We try to keep up to date with new restaurants that open around Western New York, but this summer is really testing our wallets and stomachs. Every year we look at our restaurant wishlist and feel confident that we’ll be able to do some serious damage but then more new restaurants start popping up and we somehow end up with an even longer list. I first found out about La Kueva through Buffalo.com, the food looked pretty good and I was interested in having another option for fried pork and pastelillos. On a Monday evening my brother Tom, my buddy Mac (from the award winning blog BuffaBLOG) and myself visited for dinner.
We unfortunately arrived 15 minutes before they closed. We were under the impression the restaurant was open until 10pm, but they close at 7pm Monday through Wednesday (9pm, Thursday through Saturday). Luckily, the woman behind the counter was still excited to have us inside the restaurant and let us order dinner. A couple of the menu items had been sold out (she mentioned they make everything fresh) but we were still able to enjoy several different dishes.
- Restaurant Type: Casual, Takeout
- Cuisine: Puerto Rican
- Location: North Buffalo
- Prices: Everything Under $10, Sides under $5
I ordered their Fried Pork Chop with rice and beans ($9) and a side of Fried Codfish ($2). The fried codfish was the size of a paper plate. Based on just the quantity of the item alone, it was a steal for only two dollars. It was freshly fried, crispy and warm and when topped with a generous amount of hot sauce, it was pretty good. The deep fried pork chop wasn’t that great; the pork was very salty, pounded very thin and really tough to eat. Compared to the really delicious version I’ve tried at Niagara Cafe, I was pretty disappointed. My brother ordered a Beef and Cheese Pastelillos ($2) and their Fried Pork ($9), which also came with rice and beans. The pastelillo was luke warm in the center and had probably been cooked earlier that day, it had some nice flavor and wasn’t greasy, but the cold temperature was too distracting to ignore. His Fried Pork was much better than my pork chop. The cubes of pork had a really great crispy exterior and the meat inside was still tender and had an awesome flavor.
Our buddy Mac ordered the Fried Chicken ($8) which came out as two pieces, a drumstick and a breast. It looked like he had picked correctly that day, the skin was crispy and he told us the meat inside was very juicy. He also ordered their Sweet Plantains ($3) and they were fantastic…incredibly sweet and cooked just long enough to have a thin crispy exterior but still have a soft chew. I tried to eat as many pieces as I could, they were some of the best I’ve ever had. Mac has actually gone back to the restaurant since that visit so he could try their Roast Pork (they were out on our visit) and told me it was great.
Our meal definitely had it’s ups and downs but for now I’ll assume that some of the problems were due to our very late visit. That said, you can definitely tell that they are making a lot of their food from scratch and they are willing to serve generous amounts of food for very affordable prices. Each of us walked away incredibly full but having only spent $12-15 each. I don’t know if anything I tried would sway me away from visiting Niagara Cafe (aside from La Kueva taking credit cards), but the food was good enough that I’m interested in trying some of their other menu items (Roast Pork, Cuban Sandwich, Guava Pastelillo).