Versailles Cuban Food, Los Angeles
Here's another one of my favorites from LA, and fortunately for me, it looked like they conveniently opened up a shop that was on my way to the airport today (1000 N. Sepulveda Blvd in Manhattan Beach, 310-937-6829, with several other locations across the Westside).
The thing these guys are known for is the famoso pollo versailles, or their namesake chicken. (In case you're wondering about the odd French name, Versailles is apparently in reference to the glory days of Cuba right after the Treaty of Versailles was signed.) That chicken is so darned good that I've never ordered anything else here, despite the fact that many varieties of steak and pork on the menu sounded pretty enticing. So I was happy to order a combo platter today that featured both the chicken and pork.
And the thing that makes their chicken so unique is the sauce slathered all over it. I remembered it being garlicky (I think someone once said that there was enough garlic in it to kill a small animal?), but it had been so long since I last had this that I had forgotten about how sour it was too...in a good way. The shredded pork from my combo plate was sitting in the same sauce with raw onions, making you pucker your lips and salivate as you ate. And in case the sauce got too sour, you could always take a bite of those caramelized plantains to offset it. Yum...I'd forgotten about how good this place was.
Side note: one nice addition to the annals of local drinks is Materva, apparently a Cuban soda based on yerba mate. This stuff is now bottled out of Miami.