Posted by: dawgybag | December 6, 2007

Cali N’ Titos

  Krista Franks        

 1427 S Lumpkin St, Athens, GA

(706) 227-9979                                                                

Click here for Map & Directions                                             

        Seeing the Cuban sandwich on the menu at Cali N Tito’s, I almost leapt for joy.  Immediately my memory took me to the little Cuban restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale where my family would order mariquitas and Cuban sandwiches during our summer visits.  The Cuban sandwich at Cali N Tito’s, however, is nothing like the traditional Cuban sandwich with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickle all warm on toasted Cuban bread.  The first clue was that the menu offers you a choice of steak or chicken.  Reading down the list: mayonnaise, tomato, jalapeño peppers, I realized this is an entirely different sandwich than I had hoped for.  Even the bread, it turns out, differs from authentic Cuban bread, which has a crisp, slightly browned outside and light and airy inside.  The bread at Cali N Tito’s is slightly denser on the inside and slightly less crispy on the outside. 

        When judged on its own merit and not compared to the Cuban sandwich the title would suggest, the dish is delicious.  The fresh steak, cut into small strips and mixed with slivers of onion, is placed atop freshly baked, warm bread.  The mayonnaise moistens the bread, and the tomato blends nicely with the other flavors.  The sandwich is large and rather filling. While it turned out to be delicious, it is a bit misleading to refer to it as a “Cuban sandwich.”

         Simple appetizers like maduros (plump, sweet fried plantains) and tostones (salty, slightly crispy fried plantains) are everything they promise to be.  Ceviche, lime-marinated tilapia, is available for those with a desire for tropical flavors, but for those who wish for something simpler, chicken quesadillas are available as well.  The owner of Cali N Tito’s, Bruno Rubio, previously owned the former Pollo Criollo and Caliente Cab, two similarly themed restaurants with comparable menus, both of which closed prior to the opening of Cali N Tito’s. 

            The canned sodas, never as enjoyable as a soda on tap, are served cold with a cup of ice.   Various more exotic fruit-flavored sodas are also available in cans and glass bottles.  Alcohol is not sold at the restaurant, but customers may bring their own.  

            Diners order and pay at the counter, and their food is brought to them at their table by a polite and efficient staff.  Diners may eat inside, seated at simple wooden chairs and tables and surrounded by colorful posters, straw sombreros and various other South American themed memorabilia.   Outside seating is also available and feels equally as festive.  The ground in front of the restaurant is covered with sand.  Customers may choose between wooden picnic tables and colorful plastic chairs pulled up to plastic tables. 

         All menu items fit nicely in a college student’s budget, but students are not the only ones who enjoy the South American flavors of Cali N Tito’s.  It is a popular choice for a quick lunch break during the week for university employees and construction workers as well as for a leisurely dinner with friends on the weekend.  Don’t forget to stop by the ATM on your way though because Cali N Tito’s only takes cash or check. 

        Cali N Tito’s is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.   The casual, South American restaurant is hard to miss as you drive down Lumpkin Street in Athens, Ga.  Just past Five Points, close to the University of Georgia campus, the bright red, stone building surrounded by palm trees and festive decoration looks warm and inviting.  With the tropical décor, and the Latin music in the background, as you bite into that perfectly cooked maduro, you will feel like you’re on a vacation. 

Ratings: Quality of food: 5

              Atmosphere: 4

              Service: 4

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Responses

  1. The description of the sandwich makes me want to go visit tomorrow! Sometimes derivations from your expectations can be a good thing – in this case, it sounds as though it’s a fabulous thing. I’ll be making my first visit very soon.

    -Lindsey Peacock

  2. “The canned sodas, never as enjoyable as a soda on tap, are served cold with a cup of ice. ”
    This is so true Krista. Thank you for saying so. I have only been to Cali N Tito’s once in my time here in Athens, but I really enjoyed the Cuban sandwich. The atmosphere outside, apart from all the flies, was nice, too. I like the thoroughness of your review, too. You left no sandwich untasted….


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