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“Horrible, bland food; Bad service; dirty walls”
1 of 5 bubbles Review of Ruben's Cuban Cafe

Ruben's Cuban Cafe
Ranked #207 of 2,368 Restaurants in Tampa
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $5 - $10
Cuisines: Latin, Cafe, Cuban, Caribbean
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Kids, Families with children, Dining on a budget
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Breakfast, Seating, Takeout, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Description: We are located in the Terrace Commons strip mall next to Rent-A-Center and 7-Eleven, on the South side of Busch Blvd., 1 Mile East of Busch Gardens. Ruben's Cubans started 27 years ago as a small sandwich shop in Temple Terrace serving mainly Cuban sandwiches. Today we are a sit down cafe with a full menu of Cuban-style food. We're open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dine in or carry out.
Merritt Island, Florida, United States
Level Contributor
24 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Horrible, bland food; Bad service; dirty walls”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 26, 2013

I came to this place expecting great Tampa style Cuban food and was sadly disappointed. From the moment we walked in, I knew something was amiss. The decor is a mix of 50's diner meets Cuban eatery. The mural painted on the walls are covered in greasy food and the air is damp and smelly. The waitress was very nice but annoying and unattentive. She insisted that our three year old use a booster seat (something she never does and isnt good with) until she fell out of it and we refused to use it anymore. Throughout the meal she never did a drink refill and at the end we sat for 10 minutes until I stopped her to ask for our check which was delivered by another server. There were three other parties in the restaurant and three servers, one manager and a hostess hanging around, so its not like help wasnt around.
But I can and usually over look these things if the food is good.... The food was horrible! Cuban it is not. My bistec palomillo with grilled onions was served without onions which was noticed by the waitress but never brought out, it was cooked to the point of being tough and dry and tasted like a hamburger patty. The yellow rice and black beans were bland and watery and the yucca seemed like the frozen stuff that was microwaved and topped with oil and garlic from a jar.
My wife's Cuban sandwich was a sad mess of shredded lettuce, tomatoe, balled up meat and lots of mayo. This is not a Cuban sandwich, which only has roast pork, ham, swiss cheese, mustard and pickle then grilled on a press. Now, in Tampa they add salami but it should never have lettuce and tomatoe or mayo. It was so bad our 1 year old didnt like it.
Our three year old ordered chicken fingers and fries that were ok but the chicken batter slid off proving that they are the prefrozen fingers that just get dumped in oil, but hey its a kid's meal at a "Cuban" diner so I wasnt expecting much on that one.
Had we not been on our way to Busch Gardens, I would have returned this slop and left...but a day with the kids is far and few between so I wasnt bothering with it. Besides, the beers at the park helped me forget the pain inflicted.

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank zodiacwarpspeed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ruben's C, Manager at Ruben's Cuban Cafe, responded to this review, January 28, 2014
Dear zodiacwarpspeed.
We at Ruben's Cubans are sorry to hear that you had such a negative experience dining with us. No one ever likes to hear that! :( But we did want to take the time to thank you for your feedback, because it helps us continue to try and get better. Thank you for choosing to visit our establishment, while you were here in Tampa, and for leaving us a comment. We recognize that we ALWAYS have areas of improvement, but we do our best to satisfy our customers. You, clearly, were NOT satisfied! If there is anything we can do to make it up to you the next time you are in town, please let us know.

I just wanted to take a moment to address your comments about our authenticity, It's true that we are NOT an "authentic" Cuban restaurant. We're from Tampa! :) We're more of an American-Cuban establishment with our own twist on Cuban-style food ("Tex-Mex", if you will). Take, for instance, our Cuban Sandwich, which you correctly commented was not a Cuban. We realize that lettuce and tomato are not "authentic", but it's the way most of our customers like it. We call that "All The Way", but we are MORE THAN HAPPY to make it however our customers want it, sans lettuce and tomato...salami...or any other topping, and we do that on a regular basis. That goes for ALL the items on our menu. And if you don't like something, we take it back and either try to make it right or remove it from you bill. We'll do our best to help you, our customer, enjoy your dining experience.

Again, THANK YOU for your words and honest reflection.
While they are helpful to us, I hope that others reading this might see our other positive comments as well and give us a chance to serve you. :)
Sincerely,
Ruben's Cuban Management Team
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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46 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    31
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    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
47 reviews
35 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Great food at a great price.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 14, 2013

I have eaten here many times. I have never had anything that wasn't great. I highly recommend you try this little diamond in the rough. They serve an excellent breakfast all day and they have the best Cafe Con Leche in town. I sometimes just grab something read and go there and have the best Cuban Cheese Toast with a giant cup of Cuban Coffee. They make the closest thing to the original "Cuban Sandwich" that I have had since the original "Silver Ring" in Ybor and their Pork anything is so incredibley tasty you will go back. They, of course, have an excellent menu with something for everyone. Enjoy!!

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Susan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ruben's C, Manager at Ruben's Cuban Cafe, responded to this review, January 28, 2014
Dear Susan,
Thank you SO MUCH for your kind words! We love getting positive feedback about our service and especially our food! It sounds like you have visited with us quite a bit! :) We definitely appreciate our repeat customers. Mention your review the next time you are in visiting and we'll see if we can do something to say "Thank you!" :)
Sincerely,
Ruben's Cubans
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manning, SC
Level Contributor
270 reviews
180 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
“Very good food and service”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 18, 2012

We ate there on a Saturday night while we were in Tampa helping our daughter move into her apartment for school. Saw good reviews about this place so decided to try it. Not in a great neighborhood nor does it look like much from the outside but the food and service were excellent. The decor is simple and no fancy atmosphere however the food was VERY reasonably priced. The waitress was patient explaining what different items were that we were not used to seeing and offered some suggestions. We all enjoyed our entree and the 3 sides. No one should be able to leave hungry! My son had something he did not like as a side and the waitress replaced it with something else at no charge. We will definitely be back!

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Helpful?
Thank PaxvilleBoy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Where locals eat Cuban sandwiches”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 15, 2011

Ok, the atmosphere is non existent, and the wait staff inconsistent. The owner acts like he wishes you'd go home, but the food is always the same - excellent. I have eaten my way through the menu & recommend the Cuban Sandwich, Black Beans & Rice (Tampa Style), Palomilla Steak, & Plantains. This place is a local tradition, often packed at lunchtime.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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Helpful?
Thank eLaurel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Myers, Florida
Level Contributor
19 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Excellent Sandwiches”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 6, 2011

I went to Ruben's Cubans this week while I was visiting Tampa. I did not feel like eating fast food again. I ordered the turkey club sandwich 'all the way and pressed'. It was super good. Generous slices of turkey, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo, then pressed and toasted. A regular was more then enough to fill me up, I even shared a little with my husband. The next day I came back and got the traditional Cuban sandwich. This consists of shredded pork, slices of ham and salami, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard and mayo, then pressed and toasted. It was really good. I split a regular with my husband and it was enough for both of us. The staff are friendly, and the cooks are quick. They have a small dining area but you can also get your food to go. A little more pricey then fast food, around $6-$7 for a regular sandwich. They also serve traditional Cuban food like Ropa Vieja but I only had the sandwiches. I would definitley go back again if I am ever back in the area.

  • Visited August 2011
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank strawberryrhubarbpie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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