Felicia Lacalle opened her new “modern” Cuban cuisine restaurant on May 15, and since then it has been a hit with locals and tourists.

She and her partner had had a stall in the Tampa Heights public market at Armature Works since 2018, which they left in March after deciding that it was time for their business to become a brick and concrete brick and mortar store.

Thus was born Kuba Cocina, located in St. Pete Beach, where beach goers, tourists who stroll and locals who need food to take to work in nearby hotels, have become its best customers.

The view of the sea and the sand has also favored the place, attractive and colorful due to its colorful mural of an Afro-Cuban woman smoking a cigar between two palm trees.

“I love here, it’s a special place, it really is,” Lacalle told the local Tampa Bay Times newspaper, to whom she gave an interview.

The St. Pete Beach location is really just the beginning of what Lacalle has in store for this year, as the Cuban has big business aspirations.

In the fall of this year, she plans to open a larger version of his current restaurant, inside the Seminole Heights Carriage, a massive house that once housed the original refinery.

Both places will maintain the modern Cuban style in their cuisine, which has made Lacalle’s seasoning known, but preserving the decorations and furniture that transport diners to Cuba in the 1950s.

Chorizo ​​burgers, stuffed potato croquettes, and Cuban sandwiches are something of its gastronomic offer, as well as cream cheese empanadas, natural fruit waters or Cuban coffee, all with a special touch that combines traditional Cuban food with new ingredients, such as the gratin cheese and weathered vegetables.

In addition, the new restaurant will also feature a more exclusive dining program downstairs, and a Cuban-inspired “speakeasy” bar upstairs on the rooftop bar.

Lacalle, 40, grew up in Tampa and although her mother was of Mexican origin, she was adopted by a Cuban woman, with whom she grew up and from whom she learned all her recipes and her taste for the cuisine of this country.

Lacalle describes his roots as a mixture of Cuban, Irish and Mexican influences, although it is the former that has been dominant, especially when it comes to cooking.

She says that since she was a child, at just 11 years old, she learned to make Cuban stews such as picadillo, beans with rice and croquettes.

She graduated in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University in Miami, and although she had had previous businesses it is now that she is beginning to realize her dream of a solid Cuban food restaurant.

“As a chef, being able to go back to the kitchen and create is something you need for your soul. The kitchen is my happy place”, concluded the woman.

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