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El Siboney

900 Catherine St., Key West, FL - (305) 296-4184
Posted By Michael Stern on 7/6/2002 2:18:00 AM
El Siboney is a cool, clean and pleasant eatery that serves Cuban lunch and early dinner, mostly to locals. The primary language spoken here is Spanish (but English is understood), and the house emblem, a feather-bonneted guy named El Siboney, was a Cuban Indian. The walls are covered with pictures and plaques of Latino Native Americans.

This is the best place we know on Key West to taste grilled garlic chicken, a half-bird with a crisp skin and meat so tender that it slides off the bone when you try to cut it. Plantains on the side are slightly crusty and caramelized around their edges. And yuca, a side dish served with roast pork, beans, and rice, is a revelation not quite like any other vegetable. Soft and glistening white hunks, reminiscent of a well-baked potato, but more luscious and substantial, are served in a bath of heavily garlicked oil and garlanded with onion slices.

We had a picture-pretty Cuban sandwich during our last visit. Made on a length of fragile-texture toasted bread that is cut in half at a rakish angle, this classic Cuban contained ham, roast pork, salami and cheese with pickles, lettuce and tomato. The Cuban is just one of many fine hero-style sandwiches on El Siboney’s menu; other choices include steak, burgers, pork, and fish.

The conch chowder is hale and hearty, loaded with conch and a great opportunity for dunking shreds of the buttered Cuban bread that comes with every meal. The grandest dish in the house is paella Valenciana for two (call ahead; it takes an hour to prepare), a vast fisherman’s stew served with rice, black beans, and plenty of Cuban bread for mopping juices. For dessert, you can have Key lime pie, flan, or rice pudding, accompanied by café con leche.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
garlic chicken
Cuban mix sandwich
roast pork
Key Lime Pie
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The Cuban mix: a warm Caribbean dagwood of ham, salami, pork, and cheese, garnished with lettuce and tomato, all in a brittle-crisp length of Cuban bread
"The Cuban mix: a warm Caribbean dagwood of ham, salami, pork, and cheese, garnished with lettuce and tomato, all in a brittle-crisp length of Cuban bread"
Michael Stern





Similar to chili, picadillo is a spicy ground-beef dish that usually contains olives. It is served like so many Cuban specialties, with yellow rice and caramelized plantains. Black beans come in a separate bowl.
"Similar to chili, picadillo is a spicy ground-beef dish that usually contains olives. It is served like so many Cuban specialties, with yellow rice and caramelized plantains. Black beans come in a separate bowl."
Michael Stern


The walls of El Siboney are decorated with images of Indians. El Siboney was a chief after whom the restaurant is named.
"The walls of El Siboney are decorated with images of Indians. El Siboney was a chief after whom the restaurant is named."
Michael Stern


Off the beaten path in Key West, El Siboney has long been a place where locals and savvy tourists go for excellent, inexpensive Cuban meals.
"Off the beaten path in Key West, El Siboney has long been a place where locals and savvy tourists go for excellent, inexpensive Cuban meals."
Michael Stern


Ice tea is served the island way: garnished with a wedge of lime.
"Ice tea is served the island way: garnished with a wedge of lime."
Michael Stern



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