El Exquisito restaurant serves some of the best Cuban empanadas. At this stop on the Little Havana Food Tour, the tour stops at their window, “la ventanita,” and we enjoy chicken empanadas on the go.
“La Ventanita,” or “little window,” is a custom brought to Miami from Cuba. In Cuba, much like in Miami, there is a lot of heat, so a food cart is impractical. Many casual food establishments in Little Havana have a little window as the preferred method of selling to-go orders. These little windows form part of Little Havana’s street food culture.
As I try the wheat flour empanada, I find the chicken to be tender and marinated in a tomato-based sofrito containing onion and garlic. These flavors are very common in Cuban cuisine. El Exquisito provides a very mild hot sauce that is more sweet than spicy. Cuban food is never spicy. The hot sauce is a Miami adaptation.
The exterior of the empanada is flaky and soft. I am pleased to find a green olive inside, which is a typical ingredient in Cuban, tomato based foods. This is because the sour flavor of the green olive compliments the sweet flavors of the tomato and onion sofrito. I am very happy with this tasting.