Saturday the Puerto Rican-Cuban Cafe Borincuba opened at 3424 W. Irving Park, site of the former Bosnian bakery Fontana. And Sunday, driven half insane by my failure to score a ropa vieja sandwich at the also new (and fantastico) El Cubanito, I popped into the sweltering, un-air-conditioned space for lunch. It’s operated by a neighborhood Boricua, married 39 years to a Cuban, who’s hoping to capitalize on the dearth of PR and/or Cuban food in the immediate surroundings, offering mostly Cuban classics such as ropa vieja, picadillo, chicken stew, and pressed pork, steak, and ham-and- cheese sandwiches, but also jibaritos and other Puerto Rican favorites such as alcapurrias and mofongo.
We had the ropa vieja (aka “old clothes”), stewed shredded beef in a tomato-based sauce, and picadillo, ground beef in an oily tomato sauce. Both were laced with green olives and potatoes, and though tasty and homey enough, were served in puny portions hardly worth the ticket–$11.95 and $9.95, respectively. All indications were that the place was booming on opening day–the proprietress had no time to make lechon for Sunday. I hope she adjusts portions upward or prices downward to maintain that momentum.