I’ve driven by this place hundreds of times, possibly a million, and finally in the year 2012 I remembered to eat at this fine establishment. You can’t miss the building, it’s painted the brightest colors of yellow, pink and aqua and there is usually a crowd of people eating outside. It can be a challenge finding a close parking spot but you will face that problem at most good restaurants so suck it up and walk a couple blocks if need be.
My coworker (who is Cuban) told me that Pambiche isn’t really authentic Cuban food and doesn’t taste like food he grew up with. That doesn’t totally surprise me because I’ve experienced the same with Filipino establishments. I’m always leery of them because there is too much variation so the taste is never right to me. The slightest change can be especially disappointing especially when it becomes too “Americanized” and is not even close to how it should be prepared. So I told my coworker I was picking up my lunch from there because I wanted his opinion on the flavors of their version. I ordered the pollo criollo: a generous portion of Draper Valley chicken adobo rubbed with olive oil, tomatoes, citrus and herbs then braised with creole gravy. It is served with Moros & Christianos (Cuban version of rice and beans). I’ve had this dish once before and loved it so naturally I ordered it again and yes I still love it. My coworker sampled the chicken (twice!) and he was surprised that it was very close to what it should taste like. He liked it so I guess I picked the right dish! It is super flavorful with so many spices going on that it would be hard for me to duplicate it at home so I know it will be my go-to dish there. I also asked the wait staff the first time I ordered it and he thought it was the best chicken choice on the menu.
The food ordered by my other coworkers that day (shrimp, pork tongue and Cuban sandwich) all received rave reviews as well. Just remember to leave room for dessert because Pambiche has some amazing creations. I’ve had the tres leches ($6.50) a sponge cake with fresh, evaporated and condensed milk, layered with vanilla custard, frosted with crema Chantilly and served with strawberry daiquiri salsa. Seriously delicious and the best version of tres leches I’ve ever had because it wasn’t too soggy or runny at all. We also tried the Pudin (Cuban bread pudding for $3.75) and it packed an alcoholic punch with the brandy and sherry soaked bread. Wow! Lucky my boss ordered it! Toasted coconut and almonds accompany it and it’s served with warmed crema Chantilly and pina colada salsa.
Address: 2811 NE Glisan Portland Oregon 503-233-0511
Cost: Pollo $8