La Bodeguita del Medio, Palo Alto- 12/7/13

La Bodeguita Del Medio is a Cuban restaurant and bar located in Palo Alto, Ca.  I tried numerous time to reserve a table for 12 but I was never able to get in simply because our group is too large.  Tonight there are only 7 of us so I was able to reserve a table without any problem.

The original La Bodeguita del Medio is located in Havana Cuba and almost seventy years later it is still a very popular place for tourists to visit.

 La Bodeguita del Medio  means the little Warehouse in the middle.  Why it is named as a warehouse? Well, story goes that Angel Martinez bought a small warehouse in the middle of Empedrado Street way back in 1942 in Havana, Cuba and named it accordingly as La Bodeguita. Initially, the warehouse sold rice, butter, beans, eggs, alcohol, and canned goods and a remained a warehouse for quite sometimes. Eventually, a publishing house moved next door and printed mostly art and literature journals, and was the hang out for artists, writers, and Ernest Hemingway became a regular there too. To meet demand Angel Martinez began serving them Creole food like minced pork, beef jerky, black beans, rice and beer and that is how La Bodeguita went from being a warehouse store to a restaurant and bar.

  In order to open a new Bodeguita under the chain, the chef, lead bartender, and all the musicians must be Cuban. Today, there are Bodeguitas del Medio in cities around the world: Prague, Kiev, Skopje, Nicosia, London, and Milan etc..

Front of the restaurant


There aren't too many Cuban restaurants around, so dining here is a great change of pace.   Beside the food they are well known for their mojito.


It was such a cold night and that's why nobody was sitting outside.

As soon as you walk in the door this is what you see.  The place has a nice atmosphere, dim lights and candles made this place very cozy and welcoming.

Bar is on the left and on the right there are is a small area with a few chairs and table for happy hours or for dinning.


The bar


On the right of the bar there is a small area for the hostess to greet their customers.

Behind the curtains is the main dinning room.,


Our table was not ready so we had to wait to few minutes so I took a few pictures of a wall behind the hostess station will a picture of the original La Bodeguita del medio in Havana.

I also thought the chandelier looks pretty interesting.


The appetizers menu is printed on a flyer.

The menu book

Dinner menu selection

Duy, Tuan, Hoa, and Minh


Loan, Me, and Maily

Minh and Hoa brought each a bottle of Stag leap and a bottle of Provenance


Our waiter Charles was pretty cool. He knows the menu pretty well and explained very carefully what is on the menu and his recommendation.

Chili oil with bread compliment of the house.

 They use an empty coconut shell, filled it with sand and added a candle to illuminate our table.  Pretty cute right?

Starting the evening with a glass of wine.

Their wine glass have their name engraved on it.


We ordered a few appetizers to share.


Shredded Picadillo pork, roasted chili, pepper jack, coconut jalapenos sauce


Empanadas are stuffed bread that are either baked or fried.  I did not really like it.  I thought is was weird to have a sweet glaze on the empanada.


Pan roasted mussels

with chili, soy, garlic sour orange

This dish could be great but it was so salty that it was impossible to eat the broth.  We tried to dip the broth with a piece of bread in the hope to cut the saltiness but it was no use so we just gave up and ate the mussels without the broth.


Main Dishes

Paella De La Bodeguita

Chicken, Mussels, Clams, shrimps, Chorizo, Fish en cazuela (in earthen pot) with spiced yellow rice.

The paella was plated beautifully with vibrant and beautiful colors

Hoa thought the rice was too wet but I did not mind it.  The paella had a nice flavor but the bottom could be a little more crispier but overall it was pretty good.

Bodeguita Seafood Ajiaco

Lobster tails, mussels, prawns, yuca, plantain, spicy tomato cream sauce

The lobster was delicious and the broth was tasty.  This dish was supposed to be for 2 but we share it among 7 of us so we only got just a bites.

I definitely could eat more of this dish! 

Moros y cristinaos is a Cuban version of rice and beans and it is virtually served every Cuban restaurant. 

This dish was served with the lobster dish above.



Spicy roasted pork, white rice, black beans, caramelized red onion

Masitas is a very popular Cuban dish made with chunks of pork marinated in a blend of lime, orange, garlic and cilantro, then cooked slowly to maximize both the marriage of the bright flavors and the fall-apart-tender-potential of the meat. This is the Cuban version of comfort food. 

Tierra Y Mar

Marinated skirt steak sofrito mashed potatoes, asparagus, avocado cilantro pesto.

We asked for medium rare but on the rare side but what we got was was an overcooked piece of meat so basically it was ruined.



We ordered a side order of plantain.  They are so good.  I love them and can eat them all day.


Sharing the food...

To sum up our experience at La Bodeguita I have to say that the service was excellent, our server was very knowledgeable and he took very good care of our table.

The two appetizers we ordered was pretty awful! I did not like the empanadas and the mussels were way to salty. 

As for the main dishes I only like the lobster and the Paella other than that the other dishes were a disappointment specially the skirt steak which they overcooked and ruin the dish for me.

Price wise they are pretty reasonably priced with a very good ambiance but the food is left to be desired.


La Bodeguita del Medio
463 S. California Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94306


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