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¡Deliciosa Comida Cubana!

A taste of Havana in Idaho Falls

Published in the July 2022 Issue Published online: Jul 02, 2022 Best of IF, Dining, Discover Idaho Falls, East Idaho Business Steve Smede
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IDAHO FALLS MAY HAVE NO SHORTAGE OF FAST FOOD CHAINS, but for a community of our size, we also have a healthy mix of restaurants ranging from Mexican to Southern barbecue, Indian and Thai. Now we can add another tasty option to the mix: authentic Cuban cuisine at The Cuban Table, owned and operated by Leo and Olgita Peña.

Over the past several years, the property on the west side of Hitt Road has proven itself suitable for restaurants of different stripes. The space was originally occupied by Chef Shane’s steak house, and more recently by Olgita’s good friend, Letty Garcia, proprietor of Garcia’s Street Taco & Pelona’s Fruit Oasis.

Long before the idea of restauranteering took hold, Olgita was already working on the wholesale end of the food industry as a grain purchaser for General Mills. Meanwhile, Leo had racked up a 12-year career in nursing. Their true passion, however, was cooking up delicious meals for friends and family.

“We’ve always liked to share food,” Olgita said. “We just started serving everybody on the weekends. And then I started selling stuff on Facebook, and it just kept growing and growing.”

Leo had originally inquired with Letty about investing in a food truck, but with little effort, Letty had convinced the Peñas to take over the space. Now all they needed was a name.

“We were looking forever for a name because we wanted it to have ‘Cuba’ in it, something that represented our culture,” Olgita said. “But everything that we were looking for had already been taken.” Their ultimate decision came down to their own experience with food and serving it straight from the home kitchen. The dinner table wasn’t just a place to eat, but an experience for connecting with friends and family.

“I remember saying, ‘This is such a Cuban table,’ and boom, that’s it. That’s us,” she said.

With that unique name comes a unique menu.

“We’re all about traditional, old school, Cuban food,” Olgita said.“We’ve never changed my grandmother’s recipes, my mom’s recipes. They’re straight from Cuba.”

“We were nervous at first, because there is really nothing like this here. But it’s working,” she added. “And we get a huge following from people from out of town, but who are familiar with Cuban food.” Broadly speaking, Cuban food is in a family of cuisine called island food, which includes Puerto Rican, Jamaican and Dominican dishes, among others.

“There is also Mexican food, which is delicious, but ours is more of a Caribbean taste. It’s actually more of a mild Creole,” Olgita said. “We use a lot of white wine. There’s lemon, olive oil, a lot of garlic, bell peppers, onions–but of course I don’t want to give out too many secrets.”

Idaho Falls Magazine staffers can easily attest to the menu. We sampled a number of Cuban Table’s signature dishes. One of the most popular is the Cubano, or Cuban sandwich. That’s followed by the Pollo a la Blancha with its marinated and grilled chicken cutlets, citrus juices and sauteed onions.

We also dove into their Bistec Encebollado—a thin marinated steak in mojo—with a side of Cuban salad, as well as the special Liorlan’s Bistec Ecebollado, topped with a fried egg.

Weekends at the Cuban Plate tend to be packed, so if you’re looking for thinner crowds, look for Tuesday and Wednesday specials.

For more information on their menu updates and other details, check out their Facebook page or call 208-403-2350. The restaurant is located at 3192 South 25th East, just a stone’s throw from the corner at Hitt and Sunnyside Road.


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