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Food that sticks to your ribs and clothes

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In William Least Heat-Moon's travel journal, "Blue Highways," he says the best indicator of good diner food is how many calendars there are on the walls. I stipulate that the indicator of a worthwhile Cuban cafe is how long the smell stays on your clothes. And after a visit to Cindy's Tropical Cafe, the aroma of pressed Cuban sandwiches and fried plantains hung on my shirt for a solid 10 hours. Anything longer than six hours deserves a hats-off in my book.

You may remember the place that used to occupy Cindy's -- Henry's Deli -- which served the requisite Cuban fare, but also had a quart of Valvoline and an eight-pack of toilet tissue on sale behind the register. Well, Cindy bought out Henry and did some remodeling and menu tinkering.

Cindy's "Daily Good Deals" are a welcome rendition of the home-cooked comfort food that Henry's used to offer on Fridays. She offers a choice of thinly sliced pork, steak or chicken, white rice and black or pinto beans, fried sweet or green plantains, and a salad for a measly $5.99 -- and that's the high end of the menu.

There's a wide array of small and large subs (meatball, "Midnight," Cuban and vegetarian), that cost from $2.99 to $6.59, all of which can be pressed. And Cindy's is open for breakfast, too. The only thing missing is picadillo, but there is a great "relleno de papa" ($1.25) that satisfies the spiced-ground-beef craving.

Overall, Cindy's serves excellent no-frills food that's extremely light on the wallet. Stop in for deliciously aromatic Cuban dishes, and look elsewhere for your motor oil and TP.


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