Wednesdays Are My Favorite Day at La Caridad (After Saturdays)
Growing up in Miami has made my love for Cuban food strong, a love that I will often blindly defend. If you grew up here in Southern California on salsas and chiles and corn masa and mole, with as many regional variations as there are taco trucks in Boyle Heights, than Cuban food might seem boring to you. But to me oxtails with rice and beans and maduros is as comforting as my Grandma’s matzoh bowl soup. Pollo Tropical? My own personal Del Taco.
When I worked in Midtown Manhattan the Dominicans had me covered. There may have been rice and peas instead of morros, and they put salami in their “cubano”, but there was grilled onions on top of grilled meats, and the fried plantains were plenty fried and plenty sweet. And that was good enough for me. Here in L.A., though, Cuban food is like tacos in NYC. Even the half way decent stuff gets put up on a pedestal by the locals. I guess what I’m saying is, I like Versailles’ garlic chicken just as much as the next guy but there’s something about that place that has never made me feel 100% right. Like an Angeleno eating a taco in Hell’s Kitchen.
So imagine how excited I was when I read about La Caridad on L.A. Magazine’s food blog. Oxtails? Pork shank? Morros? I’m in.
Every meal comes with a free basketful of butter, and like any good Miami Cuban restaurant they were nice enough to include a little bit of a warm French style Cuban bread as subterfuge (so you’re not just eating the plain butter with a spoon.)
There’s a perfectly fine steak encebollado.
And their cuban sandwich and media noche are both excellent, made with pork that is clearly roasted in house.
But the important part of the menu at La Caridad is daily specials. Each day they serve up a few different dishes with rice and beans or morros plus fried plantains or boiled yucca.
The first day I went to La Caridad was a Thursday. Choosing between chicken and yellow rice, beef stew, sirloin steak and ropa vieja isn’t much of a choice at all. Their ropa vieja shows that they mean business, and I thought about the morros for days after.
On a Tuesday visit I tried the fried pork ribs which were super tasty, although a tad bit dry. Of course, that’s nothing a scoop of beans couldn’t fix.
There was also a stewed tongue that was very good. But the best dish at La Caridad by far is served on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Rabo encendido, which I believe in English translates to “the greatest melt in your mouth, fall off the bone oxtails you’ve ever eaten in your life.” I’d use the word unctuous if it didn’t make me want to kill myself.
So if you’re going with a friend how do you decide between Mondays & Wednesdays? Let’s look at the rest of the menu. On Mondays they offer picadillo (a Cuban ground beef dish) or pork shank- although one of the Mondays we went they didn’t have it! On Wednesdays? Roast pork. Looks like we have a winner.
Roast pork with rice, beans, and plantains is my go to Miami style Cuban meal (if chicken chicharrones aren’t available) and for an extra dollar they will substitute out the black beans for the garbanzo bean soup that L.A. Mag recommended so highly. But as great as the bean substitution was I was a little disappointed that La Caridad’s version was slices of pork off the leg rather than a pulled or shredded pork with crispy skin situation. But then I turned over one of the pieces, and BAM:
All was right with the world. Wednesday is the winner. After Saturday, of course, which has the oxtails and the roast pork *and* roast chicken *and* lamb stew. And Mondays, if they have the pork shank. I guess pretty much any day at La Caridad is good. One thing is for sure, they all make me feel like I’m home.
La Caridad, 2619 West Sunset Boulevard. 213-484-0099