The Boricuba Cafe brings some Caribbean (and South Florida) spirit to the Emerald Coast with its blend of Cuban and Puerto Rican cuisine. The dual focus reflects the heritage of the eatery’s co-owners: Lillian Canales, with Puerto Rican roots, and Leonell Castillo, with Cuban ones. It’s also the explanation for the cafe’s name: Boriqua (or boricua) refers to a person of Puerto Rican descent, and you can probably figure out the second part of the moniker.
The Boricuba Cafe is not exactly big and it doesn’t offer an extensive menu, but what it does offer nicely expands the PCB dining scene. Authentic flavors and dishes from both islands—which certainly share some culinary threads but also have their own wonderfully distinct cookery traditions—feature on the menu, which offers some of the zestiest flavors in Panama City Beach.
Open every day except Monday from mid-morning till late evening, the Boricuba Cafe serves up everything from breakfast items such as breakfast sandwiches and tortillas to sandwiches and meat and seafood entrees. The appetizers are worth writing home about alone: from the Croquetas Jamon (ham croquettes) and the Pastelillos de Carne (beef patties) to the delicious arepas, or fried bread.
The beverages are also of note, particularly the Cuban coffee and the Cuban shakes (Batidos), including papaya, guanabana, mango, and passion fruit.
The Boricuba Cafe doesn’t go the fancy route in terms of ambiance, but who cares? This is a hole-in-the-wall sort of place, infused with familial warmth, and the quality of the food and the quality of the service—invariably excellent—are the main attraction.
Here are some specific highlights from the Boricuba Cafe’s menu:
If you’ve never had the pleasure of tasting the Puerto Rican dish of mofongo—mashed and fried plantains with garlic and pork rinds—then order it at Boricuba Cafe, as immediately as possible.
This preparation of pulled pork, which is one of the national dishes of Cuba, is very respectably pulled off in the Boricuba Cafe kitchen, often presented as one of the daily specials. (In which case, definitely give it a try!)
Elegantly simple, these fried sweet plantains hit the spot every time. Addictive? You could say so.
An unquestionable standout of the Boricuba Cafe menu, the Cuban gets its irresistible punch from pork that’s roasted in-house.
This is the Puerto Rican counterpart to the Cuban Sandwich: a lovely arrangement of steak, fried plantains, tomatoes, and lettuce with a delicious mayo-ketchup sauce.
Look beyond the standard fried fish and shrimp platters (tasty as those can be, no question), and tap into more multicultural flavors along the Emerald Coast with a swing by the Boricuba Cafe in Panama City Beach!
– Keep in mind that the Boricuba Cafe can be crowded, and given the size of the space that means it can be noisy.