An old college friend of mine has been in town for work this week so we met up several times. Once for dessert, I took her to Phoenix Food Boutique in San Gabriel where we ordered mango mochi, lychee panna cotta, pecan cookies, and also calamari (tough, dry squid and hard, thick crust so avoid it), spare ribs and bok choy noodle soup, clams in chili sesame oil, and shark fin soup. Yeah, well, it was supposed to be dessert for her and dinner for me, but we kinda had a full meal of everything.
I've said before that my really good friendships have been forged through food. We've been friends for 14 years so we always order food that can be shared and regularly eat off each other's plates.
She was staying near the airport so I suggested either Korean barbecue or Cuban. Since she gets Korean food pretty regularly, she chose Cuban. And if it's Cuban food in SoCal, I always take visitors to Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant. There's 5 locations but I go to the one in Culver City.
We were a little early so we beat the dinner rush. To my right is a wall of photos of all the celebrities that dine here, although I have yet to see a celebrity.
The complimentary bread is served warm, buttery, and pressed in a panini-like grill. We scarfed these down pretty quick.
She ordered the $3 Materva soda which tasted faintly of artificial apple. Except the can says yerba mate, so is it a tea soda? I got a $3.50 mango milkshake, but it's more creamy than mango-y. It was good but I much prefer Asian mango mikshakes which are more like pureed mangoes. I always seem to forget this about their milkshakes though and end up ordering them anyway.
I go to Versailles for this. The lemon garlic roast chicken is so lemony good that I'll dip the chicken in the sauce and scrape every last bit of sauce to take home. A very large half roast chicken with fried plantains and black beans and rice is $9.95. I know there's inflation and all, but I remember when this chicken was $8.95, and before that $6.95. :( I bet other people lament that too because it seemed like back then, when it was a better deal, there was always a line out the door. I haven't had to wait for a table in years. It's still a great meal for that price though.
Here are the black beans and rice. I saw someone once pour the whole bowl of black beans over the rice and ever since then, I prefer eating it that way too. And since my friend hates cilantro and could taste it in the black beans, I got a double helping.
We also got the sauteed oxtail and beef tongue for $14.95. This was a daily special combo, but both items are available on the regular menu. The oxtail was fall-off-the-bone tender, the tongue was incredibly tender as well but a little on the salty side. My friend really liked this and even sucked the bones clean.
I've tried several other dishes, but I always, always insist on an order of that garlic lemon roast chicken.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the name comes from the period of Cuban prosperity after the 1763 signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
Versailles Cuban Food Restaurant (Several locations)
10319 Venice Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90034