Rumba, a Rare Food Court Find

With all the hoopla over big city food halls, you might be surprised to learn there’s a foodie destination in Patrick Henry Mall’s food court. At Rumba Cafe, the scintillating flavors of Cuba convey via lechón asado (roast pork), shrimp al ajillo, grilled chicken marinated in mojo sauce (garlic, sour orange, lime, oregano) and a $6.50 daily special of picadillo a la criolla, slow-cooked ground beef in Spanish tomato sauce, punchy with peppers and onions. A spectrum of rice and sides like plantains and greaseless tostones accompany meals. The Cuban sandwich is exemplary, and potent Cuban coffee and imported sweet sodas like Jupiña enhance authenticity.

Rumba Cafe-Cuban sandwich

“We cook the meat at the moment it’s ordered,” says Jany Ponce, co-owner with Alexander Menendez, Jacqueline Amores and Ernesto Morel. All are originally from Cuba, as is the chef, Juan L. Dieguez, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami. Their fare is so good, it will make you sing. And dance.

Rumba Café was able to reopen May 14, along with Patrick Henry Mall, and is offering new menu items.

Patrick Henry Mall, 12300 Jefferson Avenue, #728, Newport News. 757-249-2397.

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Marisa Marsey
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Marisa Marsey is a food, beverage and travel writer whose awards include 1st place Food Writing from the Virginia Press Association. A Johnson & Wales University representative, she has sipped Château d'Yquem '75 with Jean-Louis Palladin, sherpa-ed for Edna Lewis and savored interviews with Wolfgang Puck and Patrick O’Connell.

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