Finding a taste of Cuba in Denver’s expanding dining scene

One of Buchi Café Cubano’s delicious coffee drinks. Photo: Marianna Caicedo · The Sentry

One of Buchi Café Cubano’s delicious coffee drinks.
Photo: Marianna Caicedo · The Sentry
The best cuban restaurants in Denver county

Denver might be frequently facing snowstorms and icy temperatures throughout the winter months, but city residents can still get a taste of the tropics via Denver’s selection of the increasingly popular Cuban cafes and restaurants.

Cuba Cuba Café & Bar near Capitol Hill is tucked away in an otherwise relatively quiet residential neighborhood. Owner Kristy Socarrás Bigelow says she took inspiration from her own family’s Cuban roots. Despite its obscure location, there’s quite a crowd on weekends.

The most popular menu options are the entrees that come with a side of rice, beans, or plantains. However, even more impressive than the entrées themselves is the extensive drink menu that includes both cocktails and coffee drinks. The daiquiris, instead of being blended, are served on the rocks with fresh fruit. There’s also mojitos and signature Cuban piña coladas.   

Since Cuba Cuba is on the pricier side, it might be a better option for getting drinks and appetizers, like the varieties of empanadas during happy hour, rather than making dinner reservations. 

Buchi Café Cubano is a more accessible and affordable option for students. The café closes every day at 6 p.m. so it’s a more casual dining experience. It is also notably quieter and more relaxed than Cuba Cuba’s lively atmosphere. Additionally, while Cuba Cuba only has three Cuban pressed sandwich options, Buchi Café has eight different sandwiches and includes the option of ordering to go for those in a hurry.

Buchi Cafe’s menu includes mojitos and other cocktails, making it a relatively affordable option for students looking for a weekend brunch hangout. However, most café guests are likely more interested in their selection of Cuban coffee drinks, which can be ordered with or without milk, depending on preference. Be aware: traditional Cuban coffee is served with raw sugar, so it’s likely unappealing to those who prefer bitter coffee.

 For those looking for an afternoon treat, Buchi Café has homemade desserts that pair well with coffee, including flan, key lime pie, and pasteles, a Cuban flakey pastry.

Cuba Bakery and Café in Aurora is more of a deli-style breakfast and lunch hangout. Its meal options include eight varieties of Cuban pressed sandwiches and meat entrees that come with a side of rice and beans.

What makes Cuba Bakery and Café stand out is its impressive selection of baked goods. The most popular of these seem to be the pastelitos, pastries with cream cheese and fruit filling similar to a croissant. There’s also a meat and cheese pastry made with sweet bread that has an interesting savory and sweet combination. With its extensive selection of sweets, the bakery has more traditional baked goods featured in its three display cases, like red velvet cake and cheesecake.

Fortunately, the increasing variety of authentic Cuban dining options allows Denverites to experience Cuban cuisine without the hassle of planning an international trip.

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