Updated: Nov 13, 2019
Keeping the Cuban culture alive & well
For what seems like a decade, the smell and sound of a particular Cuban cafe has tempted me, but for one reason or another I never found the time to stop by. People love 90 Miles as evident by the afternoon crowds that fill it everyday. Does it live up to the hype though? My answer sadly is no. The food is tastefully average at best and sinfully bland at its worst.
It was going to be a feast for one and hopefully I would enjoy it.
Since this is my first time, why not order almost everything on the menu? Well...YOLO as they say. Of the sandwiches I ordered Ropa Vieja, Media Noche, Guajirito and the Pescado. A mixture of fries and plantain chips accompanied all of the sandwiches. For sides I ordered the empanadas and a Passion Fruit shake. It was going to be a feast for one and hopefully I would enjoy it. The prices though...ouch. Talk about price gouging. The six empanadas alone were $18 which is virtually unheard of anywhere else.
I received a call from the staff letting me know the food was done about half an hour after the restaurant opened. It was way ahead of time so now it was all just waiting on the delivery driver. The food arrived piping hot. The smell was intoxicating and I couldn't wait to tear into it.
Right off the bat I notice the order was a little bit wrong. I specifically requested one of each type of empanada and they still made every single one chorizo & goat cheese...disappointed I was. The empanadas while bigger than normal empanadas were still mostly air. They had a signature "90 Miles" imprint on them as well. For something made of goat cheese, the goat cheese didn't stand out at all like it usually does. The chorizo's spices took over everything which was what I was afraid of (hence why I ordered different flavors.) There was more chorizo than goat cheese as well which didn't help. The bread was a fried alright, nothing special. Nonetheless for what they were they aren't worth $3 a piece at all. By far the best thing to come out of this was the sauce they came with which was fantastic, but too little.
It seems what makes 90 Miles special is the dining experience, something which I clearly missed out on due to having the food delivered.
It would be a crime for me to not try out the Cuban sandwich at a place as well known as 90 Miles. Up next was the Media Noche, a traditional Cuban, but with sweet egg bread. When I think of sweet bread, I'm thinking of a nice sweet honey wheat in terms of sweetness...this was nowhere near that. I honestly wouldn't call it sweet at all. There's a distinct yellow to the bread due to the yolk as well. Overall for the sandwich it was ok, the ham, pork, swiss and mustard mixed just as you would have expected, but nothing stood out.
The Pescado was just that, fish. Nothing stood out as well. I tried different condiments to bring out the flavor to no avail. The Guajirito was the most interesting sandwich out of the bunch with the combo of Angus Steak and a green plantain bun, but it also fell victim to not being flavorful at all as well. The disappointing "mehness" of the food here leaves me speechless. Maybe it's just me, but the only worthwhile sandwich was the Ropa Vieja which was very flavorful while not drenching the distinct Cuban bread. The fries were nicely seasoned and the plantain chips were what you would expect.
Overall I expected more from 90 miles. The food seemed pretty average with the best being the sauce and the Ropa Vieja sandwich. It seems what makes 90 Miles special is the dining experience, something which I clearly missed out on due to having the food delivered. I take it sitting back in a Cuban cafe, enjoying a few cocktails while listening to some Cuban music takes it to another level since the food isn't necessarily where it's at.
3 out of 5 stars
90 Miles Cuban Cafe
2540 W Armitage Ave Chicago, IL 60647
b/t Rockwell St & Stave St Logan Square