Citysearch Editorial Review. This underrated gem in South Minneapolis brings the heart of Havana to the Twin Cities. (Co-owner Victor Valens moved to New York from Cuba in 1961 when he was 11; the "1959" in the name comes from the year of the Cuban revolution.) Every square inch of the shanty-style restaurant is covered in marker scrawls and mutinous messages: “Long live Che”; “Marty loves Cindy”; “Alex was here”; “I love Victor’s!” Indeed every visitor to this little seven-table restaurant is bound to love it. There are the tropical-patterned tablecloths that can turn the tiny space into a heating shack in winter. And the little top-of-ceiling windows that turn it into a hideaway--an escape--from all things outside its restaurant doors. The Cuban-style dishes are both vegetarian and meaty, and everything comes with delicious, homemade sauce that makes nearly everyone cheer for the Victor’s revolution.
The biggest disappointment of this place was all the "rave reviews" the place got compared to our experience. My daughter and I go somewhere new every Friday afternoon. As foodie hobbiests, we decided to try Victor's. The majority of the lunch crowd was leaving, so the cooks and waitstaff should have been responsive. Both were slow. Not being in a hurry no biggie.
Have you ever been to a restaurant that is old and humid and the table feels sticky? That's Victors. It's held together by insulation foam and although the grafitti is part of the charm, it still has a filthy feeling. I used the ladies room and the old fashioned hook to lock the door has shifted. Luckily the bathroom was so tiny I could hold the door with my foot and hand to keep other patrons out.
We're water drinkers, and they slapped 2 glasses of tepid water on the table with a couple of ice chips, gone in less than 3 minutes. My daughter ordered the "Bay of Pigs" sandwich with Yucca and I ordered "Bistec Encebollado" with plantains and bean/rice. It was extreme at both poles. The meat in her sandwich was saltier than jerky and overly spiced. Mine was so bland I salted everythig and it was completely cold. The Encebollado was the worst! It was bland, overcooked. dry wafer thin tough slices of beef w/onions-. So dry there wasn't a drop of juice or sauce on the plate and room temp. Do these cooks taste the food before serving? I can't believe any cook would allow that plate out of the kitchen! The only thing going for the meal was the beans and rice, but that was cold too.
My stepmother is Puerto Rican living in FL. I've had plenty and good and bad Carribean food. This was the worst. I usually don't complain, but it was so bad the waitress took it off our bill. We won't be going back.
Bad Example of Cuban Food.
My wife and I moved up from Tampa few years back, and miss Cuban cooking. Victor's was showcased on Food Network. It sounded good so we tried it out.
The staff was wonderful, and although there was a wait (20 minutes, Sunday 10:30am) they were well organized. We were seated by the front door which meant the people waiting were all hovering above us. That became annoying as we began to eat and could hear running commentary from the patrons standing, literally, within 2 feet of where we sat.
Prices were steep: $8 for a sandwich that's $2-$5 back home. The food should have been much better, or at least authentic. My "Cuban" sandwich strangely tasted like a Ruben due to a combination of misfires. It wasn't served on Cuban bread, and was soaked with mustard, having a strong vinegar taste. The ham seemed baked, and was cut way too thick. Aside from the mustard, the sandwich was too dry. I've had dozens of Cuban sandwiches and this tasted closer to a Ruben. For $8, it came with potato sticks.
The tostones my wife ordered were saturated in oil, and also had that vinegar taste -- you couldn't taste the plantain. Again, no cuban bread - for toast, we got rye! The black beans had as much flavor as the water they were boiled in. Her scrambled eggs were cooked to order, and the banana pancake had no complaints from our 3 year old. So as a Cuban restaurant, Victor's makes a good iHop.
We got cafe con leche. It was tepid. Window vendors in Miami usually make them pretty sweet, but this wasn't, and also tasted more like regular coffee made strong, and not dark coffee.
It just turned out that everything was overall pretty bad - very disappointing. It's unfortunate this is billed as "authentic" Cuban food. It's not even good food. When we got home, I did an image search for "cuban sandwiches" for nostalgia purposes. Unfortunately I still had a Ruben burning my throat lining.
Sorry, but save your money and time with this place.
Salsa the Blues Away. Funky ambience and great food, served up by a friendly staff. I left my name on one of the walls (patrons are encouraged to do so) and would go back again when in Minneapolis.
Best Breakfast. Victor's is tiny or I would be there every weekend. The food is worth the wait that typically accompanies it. My rating would be a solid 5 but the dinners are not in the same league as the breakfast offerings. The Rancheros Cubanos is my favorite and I love to share mango pancakes as they are melt in your mouth good. The coffee is Cuban style which means little and strong and the soda comes in cans so no refills.
Below average food - go somewhere else!. Overall, Victors 1959 Cafe was underwhelming. We went there with some of our best friends and sat outside at a table on their small patio. Service was pretty slow, but we weren't in a big hurry and were happy to chat. We asked for recommendations and the waitstaff was happy to provide their insight - very friendly staff. Their recommendations, however, brought average food that was dry, lifeless, and uninspiring. Furthermore, the food was cold - and the kitchen is only 23 steps from our table! I am NOT a Cuban food expert (far from it) but I have eaten enough of it to know that the pork dish I ordered was incredibly overcooked and too dry to serve. One saving grace was the fried plantains - but who can't fry things? Small, cramped unisex bathrooms, too. Again, very friendly and accomodating waitstaff stuck serving poor food.
Disappointed. I was so looking forward to a good meal here but I was disappointed. I have had Cuban food many times but none like this. It was bland and overcooked.
Victor's has the perfect sampling of Cuban food just for you, morning or night..
Owner and Chef, Victor serves up Cuban cuisine from recipes his father taught him as a boy. This corner of South Minneapolis takes on the look smell and feel of Havana. The kitchen cranks out traditional Cuban fare including breakfasts consisting of mango and banana pancakes, fried yucca and free-trade coffees. At lunch and dinner guests are treated to Cuban sandwiches and spicy entrees like the chicken stew. Don't forget to try Cuba's answer to the French fry: fried sweet plantains.
Not real Cuban food. As a Cuban, I was a little insulted by Victor's. Granted, the atmosphere is great & reminds one of the little cafes and sandwich shops in Tampa & Miami (except for the pictures of Fidel and Che Guevara). It's a very nice setting. But mango waffles? Cuban sandwiches served on what looked like....a kasier roll? Fried plantains that looked to be nothing more than fried bananas. This is not what my grandmother and mother used to make. This was not real Cuban food - it was a cheap imitation. Cuban restaurants are in short supply in this part of the county and I'm sad to say I won't be back to this one. Even the cheapest, dirtiest hole-in-the-wall cafes in Tampa or Miami knock this place off the map. Not worth the wait.
I have eaten at Victor's several times and must say that the food is fabulous! Very unique and consistantly delicious. However, I can only recommend this place on weekdays. I made the mistake of going there on a Sunday morning a couple weeks ago. My husband and I stood in a line of people without so much as a glance from any of the servers. I am aware that they are busy, and I am aware that, yes, it's Sunday and I will probably have to wait for a table. BUT, waiting for 20 minutes to get your name on a list is a little ridiculous- I don't care how good the food is. My hubby and I left due to impatience.
This doesn't mean I wouldn't go back. Just not on a weekend.
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