Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, a Philadelphia-based restaurant group, will debut its second Florida location on East Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. Four Cuba Libre restaurants are currently operating in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, Orlando and Washington, D.C.
The new restaurant will be located at 800 East Las Olas Boulevard and cover 9,200 square feet with seating for 250 (interior/exterior). It will feature high ceilings, dramatic interior and exterior theming, as well as a wood-burning Latin Grill & Chef’s Counter.
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar will open this fall in a prime location at the southeast corner of East Las Olas Boulevard and Southeast Eighth Avenue, in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas entertainment and retail district. The restaurant will occupy an existing, but entirely re-imagined two-story structure.
“We look forward to bringing this distinctive and unique restaurant experience to South Florida,” said Barry Gutin, Principal and Co-Founder, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar. “The restaurant’s name translates to ‘free Cuba’ and channels hope for the future of the island nation.
“Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar will offer a ‘window’ to the island of Cuba through an energetic and transportive environment. We will celebrate the Cuban culture through our chef-inspired cuisine, thematic design, Latin music, and storytelling.”
According to Gutin, passing through the doors of Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar transports guests to La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) district, recognized the world over. The restaurant’s atmosphere offers a unique combination of Latin flavor, warmth and spectacle – from the two-story “movie set” re-creation of Old Havana street scene facades to the guayabera uniforms to steamy Cuban rhythms.
The culinary program at Cuba Libre Fort Lauderdale will be led by two-time James Beard-winning Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot. While the restaurant’s design will reflect the distinctive Old Havana district, its menus will reflect the cuisine served today in Cuban paladares throughout the island – chef crafted versions of its traditional cuisines and modern Cuban food.
“Cuba Libre serves today’s Cuban cuisine, a mix of robust and soul-satisfying dishes that are flavorful, but rarely spicy,” said Pernot. “Our carefully crafted menu combines beef, poultry, pork and seafood with tropical fruits, root vegetables, herbs and seasonings, creating attractive options for meat eaters and vegetarians.”
Pernot’s menu is inspired by the chefs and restaurants he has experienced during his continuing travels throughout Cuba, which are chronicled in his 2018 book – CUBA COOKS: RECIPES AND SECRETS FROM CUBAN PALADARES AND THEIR CHEFS. Steakhouse favorites and other dishes prepared at Cuba Libre’s wood-burning Latin Grill & Chef’s Counter, such as Ribeye Jibaro, Plato Gaucho Mixed Grill for two, Vacio Steak Argentino, Octopus a la Parrilla and GrilledProvoleta, are inspired by the food served at Al Carbon, where Chef Iván Rodríguez López prepares nearly every dish over charcoal. While malanga fritters are served at seemingly every restaurant in Cuba, it was while at Alain Rivera’s Doctors Café when Pernot thought to add it to Cuba Libre’s menu, enhanced byculantro and the tamarind ketchup he serves with it. The method of preparation of his Peking Chicken comes from the Peking Duck that one would find in Havana’s Chinatown.
Pernot presents dishes not only from Havana, but from rural and urban regions throughout the large island. His Coconut Crab Fritters are inspired by the sweet fritters he enjoyed on the beaches of Baracoa. From Cienfuegos, his mother-in-law’s pineapple and avocado salad evolved into Pernot’s Pineapple Guacamole Cubano. The idea for Cuba Libre’s Guava BBQ Ribs sprung from the ribs – drizzled with local honey – that Pernot was served in Santiago de Cuba.
Modern cooking techniques and equipment, as well as consistent access to high quality ingredients (a chef’s greatest challenge in Cuba) enable Cuba Libre to bring these authentic – but not always familiar – dishes to life with award-winning vibrancy.
Cuba Libre specializes in rum, offering more than 90 premium and flavored varieties of dark, light, spiced and aged rums. The restaurant’s premium cocktail selection uses a wide variety of fresh ingredients including numerous tropical fruits and juices. Cuba Libre presses, by hand, hundreds of pounds of fresh sugar cane weekly to extract sugar cane juice, known as guarapo, used to sweeten its signature cocktail, the mojito. More than 10 varieties of mojitos are offered, among an expansive menu of hand-crafted cocktails, wines and beer.
Cuba Libre Fort Lauderdale will be the fifth location for the brand, which was first opened in Philadelphia by Gutin and co-founder Larry Cohen (under Pernot’sculinary direction), followed by Atlantic City, Orlando, and Washington, D.C. A sixth restaurant is scheduled to open in San Juan, Puerto Rico early next year. The restaurant group is also exploring opportunities in Tampa, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Las Vegas and Atlanta.
For more information please visit www.cubalibrerestaurant.com.