Smokies Cuban Café
After doing some poking around online before leaving for our vacation in the Smokey Mountains, I stumbled upon Smokies Cuban Café. It caught my interest because it did not seem like the typical restaurant in the area which serves chicken fried steak, fried chicken, biscuits with apple butter. Located on the main road in Pigeon Forge, Smokies occupies a tiny space in an older retail strip.
It’s not much in terms of ambiance. The entrance is through a normal heavy glass retail style door, then a screen door. I noticed about 6 four top tables, pictures of the menu items are displayed on one wall, a small table holding coupons for local attractions, a tray of hot sauces next to a soda dispenser and the open kitchen was behind a long counter. At the end of the counter inside the kitchen I observed a petite older woman sitting at a small table sipping a shot of coffee and reading a paper. It reminded me of a small family owned restaurant in Cuba – so maybe the ambiance was spot on. It was authentic.
I love black beans and Cuban sandwiches. So, that’s what I ordered – Cuban sandwich with a cup of black beans. My daughter, Isabelle, also ordered the Cuban sandwich. Inside the toasted soft bun coated with mustard was layers of thinly sliced ham, pork, pickles and the cheese was slightly oozing out the sides. Isabelle and I should have split the sandwich because it was a foot long. Jerry ordered the red beans – the special. These were the best I’ve ever tasted – fantastic hearty meaty flavor with just the right amount of seasoning. I actually had about 5-6 bites because it was that good. I should have ordered some to go they would have gone great with the leftover Cuban sandwich.
Available along with hot sauces, are bottles of home made hot peppers in vinegar. I put some of this on the sandwich and in my beans. It’s not crazy hot. I’m going to try to recreate this. I have already suggested Smokies to others visiting the area. The food is reasonably priced, simple, honest and authentic. I will definitely return next time I’m in the area.