Dear Mr. Gold,
A friend of mine is having a 40th-birthday party and she wants Cuban food. Do you know of a place that is authentic, yummy and relatively cheap? It would be essentially “to go” or catered, so no ambiance required.
Cafe Atlantic, in Pasadena’s Old Town, has very good, if slightly gentrified, Cuban food — great codfish fritters, wonderful roast pork, and tasty empanadas stuffed with picadillo. El Colmao, in a particularly drug-infested stretch of Pico-Union (there is guarded parking), has the best Cuban paella and arroz con pollo in town. Las Palmas, in North Hollywood, has delicious stews and fufu de platanos garlicky enough to raise the dead.
But the classic Cuban party trays in Los Angeles come from Porto’s Bakeryin Glendale. Its ham croquettes, beef pastels, chorizo-filled empanadas and terrific meat-stuffed deep-fried potato balls have been staples at Cuban fiestas for years. Don’t miss the pastries, especially the refugiados — impossibly flaky guava-cream cheese pies. Portos Bakery, 315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, (818) 956-5996.