My favorite entrees' include some great beef and pork dishes. All served with fresh onions and two sides (rice of course). Buttered Cuban bread is served prior to each meal and you can request refills as you eat.
In addition to beef and pork entrees', Arco-Iris has fish, chicken, and shrimp dishes which I like, as well as liver. But you know, I don't eat the liver ... anywhere!
Vaca Frita (Fried Flank Steak):
Many of you have probably had pulled pork and/or pulled chicken. This is basically what the Cubans do to beef: cook it as a roast first, pull the cooked meat into strips, then pan fry the shredded beef. Twice cooked is always better.
Masas de Puerco Fritas (Fried Pork Chunks):
Bistec de Palomilla
This dish is both a Cuban and an American favorite. See the brownness to the onions. Those have been sauteed with the steak. Um-mm!
Puerco Asado (Pork Roast):
Pork roast here is marinated (probably a day in advance) and slow cooked until the roast is falling apart in the marinate. My guess is that the roast is a trimmed boston butt. This dish is served with fresh onions and goes great with Arroz Moro.
Classic Cuban Sides
Here are two must-have sides. I generally share the Yucca for an appetizer and order the plantain for a side. None of my Cuban relatives want to share their plantains.
Yuca con Mojo (Yuca Root in Sauce):
Yuca is the root of the yucca bush like you find in a neighbor's yard or at a nursery. For the squeamish eater, suck it up. You eat potatoes and carrots, and they come out of the ground. This is a great dish! As an appetizer, it is fried, though they will probably let you have yuca con mojo as an appetizer as well. Yuca con mojo as a side dish is yucca soaked in this great Caribbean marinate: lime juice, onions, and garlic sauteed in oil. At home, I use a similar sauce in my Cuban barbecued shrimp dish.
Platanos Maduros (Sweet Plantains):
The sweet plantains are ripe ones that are they are covered in oil (room temperature) and pan fried when the oil is hot (but not too hot) to tenderize the plantains and to catalyze the releasing of the natural sugars in these bananas. These plantains at Arco-Iris are particularly ripe and are sooo sweet. See the black on the plantains in the picture ... that's the best part. You can ask for this dish as an appetizer instead of a side, but then you'll have to share. Generally, we get fried green plantains for an appetizer.
Florida Bakery (Next Door to Arco Iris)
We always go next door to the Florida Bakery for takeouts to my in-laws in Gainesville, Florida.
If you like phyllo dough, you'll be in heaven here. These phyllo pastries (pastelitos) filled with guava paste, with cream cheese, and with guava paste and cream cheese (my favorite). And the pastries also come with a seasoned ground beef stuffing (pastelitos de carne) as well.
On the bottom tray, there are deep fried ham croquets which make great finger food for the road. The empanadas and the pastelitos, I don't recommend for road food unless you want to vacuum phyllo flakes from your car after.
This place sells fresh Cuban bread. You can get Cuban sandwiches here also.
Note: Cuban bread is an old-fashioned European bread made with a water-flour base rather than milk. Other than yeast, there are few additives in it. This bread is great on day one and good on day two, but by day three it gets hard, but not stale. Which means that it can be slow toasted to a golden brown and placed in a tin for snacking on later with butter (not margarine). The Spanish term for this toasted bread is pan duro or hard bread. I have never seen hard Cuban bread get moldy, and my guess is that is because the bread has no sugar or milk in it.