East Idaho Eats: Generations of family recipes being served at The Cuban TablePublished at | Updated at
IDAHO FALLS — Olgita Peña knew she had found her niche when she started selling authentic Cuban food out of her home kitchen.
She sold primarily on Facebook Marketplace and quickly found that she couldn’t keep up with demand. She was getting so many orders that working from her kitchen was no longer a viable option.
That’s when Peña decided it was time to expand into her first full restaurant venture, The Cuban Table.
Olgita, along with her husband Liorlan Peña, now own and operate the restaurant, which prides itself on being one of the only places in town serving authentic Cuban cuisine.
“Our business is a 100% authentic Cuban restaurant”, Olgita said. “A lot of this is my grandmother and my mother’s recipes, (my husband’s) family recipes, and it’s all been handed down from generation to generation.”
One of their most popular dishes, Pollo a la Plancha, includes a chicken breast that is marinated for 24 hours in their homemade mojo sauce.
“[Mojo] is the heart of everything,” says Olgita. “It’s what we marinate in, it’s what we cook with, we dip the meat in it, everything.”
Mojo is a Cuban favorite and is usually made of sour oranges, but because they are not available in our area, it is made with orange juice, vinegar, green bell peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil and seasoning.
A fan-favorite, the Cubano, is a Cuban sandwich consisting of ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard.
The meat for the Cubanos is marinated and then slow-roasted. Olgita arrives at the restaurant every morning to begin the process, letting it cook in the marinade to make sure it is cooked to perfection every day.
“A lot of people think that it’s actually from Cuba,” says Olgita. “But the Cubano is actually not from Cuba. When the Cuban crisis started with the U.S., and Castro took over, lots of people had to start coming to the U.S. and there was no food. So, they would start making this sandwich, which is actually from Florida, but invented by Cubans.”
An invention of their own, named after one of the owners, Liorlan’s Bistec de Palomilla includes a tender, marinated steak with caramelized onions, black beans mixed with white rice and a fried egg on top, along with a Cuban salad.
“A lot of Cubans like to eat eggs on their rice,” says Olgita. “It’s very popular.”
Another staple at The Cuban Table is the Camarones a la Cubana.
A recipe of Olgita’s grandmother, the dish consists of shrimp smothered in a mild creole sauce, the Camarones a la Cubana comes with a bed of white rice, and a side of smashed and fried plantains, another stable of Cuban cuisine.
“Cuban food is not spicy,” says Olgita. “A lot of people think that it’s going to be spicy but it’s not.”
One of the delicious options to order as a side is an order of Croquetas.
Croquetas are made with ham, butter, olive oil and are hand-breaded.
“Normally we don’t serve it with the cheese, but there’s an option to buy the cheese, and it’s really good,” says Olgita.
The Cuban Table is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. They are located behind T-Mobile at 3192 South 25th East, in Idaho Falls.
Find out more about The Cuban Table by visiting their Facebook.
This story is brought to you by Colling Professional Services.