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    TropiCuba (2206 Frankfort Avenue) has come to Clifton. Owned by three native-born Cubans, Orlando Grimany Calas, Orlando Grimany Nuno (father and son) and head chef Angel Rodriguez, the restaurant recently had a successful invite-only and soft opening over the weekend. It is occupying the space that was vacated by two other Latin food establishments, Cubana and Riviera Maya. Both of these restaurants were short lived, but these three Cubans hope to end that streak.

    I reached out to Orlando Grimany Calas via email to find out more about their new restaurant. His family, all born in Cuba, have been living in the United States since 1996. He and his father, Nuno, were vying for a long time to try and open a restaurant here in Louisville. Neither of them know how to cook, so the idea just never took off. Calas has been working with their now head chef Angel Rodriguez on business relating to El Sabor de Cuba restaurant in Okolona. He was helping run their social media accounts and saw overwhelmingly positive reviews of his food. He boldly asked him if he was interested in expanding and Rodriguez told him he absolutely was, so they decided to give it a try.

    Because Calas lives in close proximity to the ever bustling and successful Frankfort Avenue corridors, he started looking for locations near that area. He was driving by one day and saw a lease sign in the storefront where they ended up, and that got the ball rolling for the family restaurant business. The name TropiCuba came from his father, Nuno.

    He says they were somewhat worried about another Cuban restaurant being in that building space since "the previous one left such a bad taste in people's mouths (pun intended!). I try to stress that we're in no way associated with the previous ownership." Calas went on to tell me about the plethora of experience that their new head chef brings to their diners. "Angel has decades of culinary experience from Cuba. He makes real, creole, traditional Cuban food just like you would have on the island. His congris is revered among those who have tasted it. He has worked in restaurants as well as taught at culinary institutes in Cuba."

    At TropiCuba, you will find staples like the iconic Cuban sandwich, Ropa Vieja and Vaca Frita, as well as some not-so-familiar ones like the Fricase de Carnero, Bistec Uruguayo and Merluza Frita. Calas also says that the  atmosphere is very casual and friendly, with Cuban music playing all day. TropiCuba is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday. The portions are very generous and prices are very reasonable.

    Another neat aspect of the new restaurant, according to Calas, is that "the walls are filled with the works of local Cuban artists Pedro Roque and Lazaro Hondares. They are both very talented as their pieces will clearly show, and were gracious enough to allow us to exhibit their pieces on our walls. They are all for sale and all the proceeds go to them. Instead of filling up the place with tropical landscapes we thought this would be a better use of the wall space to add a touch of uniqueness to our restaurant as well as highlight the creative works of two local, very talented Cubans."

    I'm sold. I will be visiting TropiCuba as soon as I can, and wish the father/son duo and their impressively sounding head chef all the success. It sounds like they have the Keep Louisville Weird thing going already. Give them a try soon!

    Follow TropiCuba on Twitter and Facebook. Use the hashtag #‎TropiCubaLouisville‬

    Photos courtesy of TropiCuba, Facebook

    Erin Nevitt's picture

    About Erin Nevitt

    Longtime Louisvillian, I am a children's librarian at heart and have a passion for children's lit. I am most recently a stay-at-home mom who is always on the move, searching for family fun in Louisville. If it's free, it's preferable!

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