Jose’s Real Cuban Food, 8799 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, (941) 795-4898, josesrealcubanfood.com. Already a local favorite, Jose’s went mainstream last September when it was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The small space—a few tables and a long, kitchen-facing bar—is made cozy by a super-friendly staff and hearty, first-class fare.
You name it—utility workers, retirees, retail clerks and businesspeople from as far as north Sarasota. Plus, it’s a favorite among food industry insiders. (Beach Bistro’s Sean Murphy can be spotted in the Food Network episode.)
The bad news: You’ll probably have to wait for a table. The good news: You won’t have to wait long. The wait staff and kitchen move at warp speed.
Real Cuban, right down to the coffee. Don’t miss the house specialty, a shredded roast pork available on the authentic Cuban sandwich, alongside a tamale or over black beans and rice in the Lechon con Asado. Other offerings feature chicken, steak, brisket and even wahoo, and most are served with fried plantains or yucca. Between the generous portions and the staff’s eagerness to hand out samples, you won’t go hungry.