Southern California has never had a shortage of Cuban restaurants, but we’ve never had a truly great Cuban restaurant, either. And, yes, I know the ones you’re thinking of right now — and they’re not as good as you think they are. Want proof? Go to the new Isla in La Palma.
This new restaurant will make you rethink every Cuban kitchen that preceded it. And if you eat only one thing at Isla, order the bistec encebollado, a simple flap steak with sautéed onions. The steak is extremely thin, almost like the air-dried cecina in Mexico. It’s cooked until heavily charred and crisp around the edges but it somehow retains its moisture and tenderness. It in absolutely delicious. This is Cuba done right.
Isla, 30 Centerpointe Drive, La Palma, 714-735-8597
For more details about Isla, check out my review in the Orange County Register. To view more of my work for the Register, visit the archives. For more dining and travel inspiration, bookmark this blog and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.