Atlanta’s best Cuban, Dominican and Puerto Rican food can be tough to define. The approach to cooking for all three of these come from the same history – a mash up of the native cultures that lived on each island, along with flavors from the colonizers’ native Spain, and the West African traditions of the enslaved who were brought to those Islands by traders. This cultural alchemy results in a cuisine focused on island starches like plantains and yucca, native proteins like pork and shellfish, and seasonings like Cumen, Tumeric and garlic. We’ve explored Atlanta to look for restaurants that completely embrace these flavors and deliver incredible, Latin-island traditions to first time customers (and those who keep coming back for more).
Porchlight Latin Kitchen
One of Smyrna’s best restaurants period, Porch Light Latin Kitchen’s head chef and owner Andre Gomez focuses on a comfortable experience for every customer, while delivering dishes with massive flavor. With dishes like the Puerto Rican fried can can pork chop, his rum glazed sweet plantains, and sofrito marinated skirt steak ponchos, you can taste Chef Gomez’s childhood in Puerto Rico on every plate.
El Super Pan
As a native Puerto Rican, Chef Hector Santiago grew up on the delicious pressed sandwiches you can find at roadside delis and stands throughout the island. So when he was considering concepts for his new Puerto Rican restaurant when Ponce City Market opened, there was only one hero for the job – El Super Pan. Making sandwiches like the Cuban Mix, Farm Cubanos and Medio Dia, they also make excellent tostones, yucca fries and madras if you’re looking for something sweet.
My Abuela’s Food
The newest addition to the island mix, My Abuela’s Food opened in late 2019 at the Spindle bike shop, just behind Krog Street market. As a pescatarian, Chef Luis Martinez has been on a mission to provide more empanada options than your standard picadillo filled fried pastry. He’s made a Vegan and gluten free version now to make sure that everyone can enjoy empanadas know matter what their dietary restrictions might be. They also make killer tostones, sandwiches and rice bowls.
The legend of the Cuban sandwich was not that it started in Cuba, but here in the United States. Cigar factory workers in the Tampa area were always looking for a good nearby lunch option, and using local ingredients with Cuban culinary history, the Cubano was born. Cubanos ATL keeps that tradition going with their mouthwatering Cuban sandwiches like El Tampa and El Miami, along with their chicken option El Pollo. They also have a DELICIOUS flan along with incredible cuban coffee.
Buena Gente Cuban Cafe
These guys make the best Cuban, Puerto Rican or Dominican pastries in the City – hands down. Called pastelitos, their sweet pastries are puffed pastries filled with guava, cream cheese or both together. They also make savory ones with beef, delicious cuban sandwiches, tropical milkshakes, and much more. Formerly a food truck, you can now find them in Decatur.
Papi’s Cuban Cafe
The big boys when it comes to Caribbean cuisine, Papi’s Cuban Cafe has 6 locations and growing – everywhere from Midtown ATL to Emory Point to Stockbridge and the Airport, there’s a Papi’s Cuban Cafe near you. We loved the rope vieja when we were last their – savory shredded beef with peppers and onions.
Versace Dominican Restaurant
The A’s best mofongo (mouthwatering plantain mash) may be in…Lilburn? At Versace Dominican Restaurant, they make their mofongos fresh, with incredible protein options like rope Vieja, shrimp, steak, stewed chicken and more. They also have mangu, a mofongo variant with butter that is INCREDIBLE. Order one with a Presidente for the ultimate Santo Domingo experience.
We couldn’t create a Latino focused restaurant list without having at least one Buford Highway restaurant on there. Sabor Dominicano is more than worthy of being on this list though. We love their traditional Dominican breakfast options, like mangu (see above for description) with cheese, eggs and salami. But we keep coming back for the arroz con pollo – one of the most accessible, delicious Caribbean dishes.
Located up the road on Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Cafe Dominicano is modest looking on the outside, but the flavors are powerful. We loved the Bistec Encebollado – basically a cube steak marinated with extremely flavorful elements like onions, sofrito and vinegar. They also make the hard to find quipes – delicious, deep fried beef and bulgur meatballs!
K Bueno Latin Cafe
Taking a more pan-latin approach to everything they do at K Bueno Latin Cafe, this modest Jonesboro restaurant they make incredible, hard to make appetizers like Alcapurria – mashed platings or yucca stuffed with a savory mixture of ground meat or pork and boiled in plantain leaf. They also make a picador dish for a big group of carnivores visiting – fried cracklings chicken, steak, pork, salami, cheese, tostones and Dominican sausage!