Another day, another restaurant opening in Charleston! I am continuously pleased by the ethnic food growth Charleston has seen in the past couple months. From authentic Spanish tapas to French restaurants to Spanish-Cuban food, its amazing how well a city with a food norm of shrimp and grits has adapted to more eccentric flavors.
Last week I attended the opening night of Spanglish in West Ashley. Spanglish was formerly operated as a stall at Workshop and was also operated as a month-long residency at The Daily. It is owned and operated by Lynda and Thomas Prado, who both grew up in Miami and have been striving to bring the same authentic Cuban-American food they grew up eating to Charleston, with a bit of a Spanish twist. Ultimately, they opened up a brick and mortar in West Ashley in the former home of Bluerose Cafe.
Upon arriving at Spanglish, the excitement about this restaurant was quite noticeable. The restaurant was completely full just about an hour after opening and we were placed on a wait. After about 30 minutes, our table was ready for us and we entered into a small diner-esque restaurant, with Cuban music reverberating throughout the restaurant and neon pink decor scattered throughout. We were told that this decor is typical of a Miami Cuban restaurant.
My friends and I decided to share the “Spanglish Platter”, which cost $28 and consists of tostones, yucca fries, empanadas, fried pork belly, and croquettes. We were told that this was a great way to get a taste of standard Cuban cuisine and when splitting it, only cost us about $9 each. The platter was a pretty decent size and was the perfect amount of food for 3 people. My favorite food item on the platter was the empanadas. The meat filling was extremely flavorful and the empanada shell itself was fried to crispy perfection. There was good crunchy texture on the outside and a spicy flavor with a hint of sweetness on the inside. The other items on the platter were good, but we felt that this platter needed a bit more variety. It was a platter composed of deep friend foods, and some of it seemed almost too dry. I’ve never been to Miami, so this may be exactly how Miami Cuban-American cuisine should taste, but I definitely felt the need for a salad to balance out all the fried stuff.
I opted for a simple watercress and avocado salad that was topped with sunflower seeds, grapefruit and a citrus vinaigrette. This salad cost me about $11. I would say that pricing is a bit high for such a simple salad, but it was worth it for how flavorful and fresh the watercress tasted. It was the perfect way to balance out all the fried foods I had just eaten.
In terms of this restaurant’s affordability, I would say that going with a group of friends and ordering the Spanglish Platter is the best way to get a good bang for your buck. It provides a good way to sample the staples of Miami Cuban cuisine, and is enough to feed 3 or more people. The restaurant also offers a few entrees that are priced in the $12-$18 range, but are served with rice, which makes the price more sensible. You should also note that Spanglish does not yet have their liquor license, so if you are looking to have some wine with your meal, make sure you bring a bottle along with you.