Meson Camagüeyano Restaurant

Meson Camagueyano signature dish. Roast Pork with Yellow Rice and Sweet Plaintains. Photo: Elizabeth Ann Fost
Meson Camagueyano signature dish. Roast Pork with Yellow Rice and Sweet Plaintains. Photo: Elizabeth Ann Fostrr
Rating
4.6/5

Located centrally on the island and capital of the Camagüey Province, Camagüey is the third-largest city of Cuba. It was founded in 1528 by the Spaniards. The city’s symbol is a clay pot (tinajón) used to capture rainwater and keep it fresh. It lies to the right of the door as it graces the establishment’s entryway.

Entry to Meson Camagüeyano with clay pots (tinajón). Photo: Elizabeth Ann Foster
Entry to Meson Camagüeyano with clay pots (tinajón). Photo: Elizabeth Ann Foster

In 2008 Camagüey was designated a UNESCO world heritage site due to its rich architecture and maze-like planning for defense. Local legend is that if you drink water from a tinajón, you will stay in Camaguey, meaning if you meet a Camagüeyense girl, you fall in love and never leave.

This restaurant in the Cape is appropriately called Meson Camagüeyano as it describes a small bar where people of the region of Camagüey serve their specialties using the demonym for Camagëy. They do not have a liquor license but offer sangria with a whimsical paper fruit opened accordion-style around the attached straw. Thin slices of citrus fruit deliciously adorn the glasses, usually cut in full transparent circles instead of the quick industrial wedge.

Sangria at Meson Camagueyano, Cape Coral FL. Photo: Elizabeth Ann Foster
Sangria at Meson Camagueyano, Cape Coral FL. Photo: Elizabeth Ann Foster

Signs above the expresso machine advertise Cristal Beer, but it is only available in Cuba for now.

Cristal Cerveza sign from Cuba. Photo:  Elizabeth Ann Foster
Cristal Cerveza sign from Cuba. Photo:  Elizabeth Ann Foster

The house specialty is Meson Camagüeyano, a mouth-watering, generous assortment of authentic, savory Cuban cuisine. Chef and owner, Lester Diaz, makes specialty rice with chorizo, bacon, and corn from the region, and if you request or are Cuban, cassava bread accompanies the dish. It is an acquired taste to those not from the island nation, requiring water and salt to soften it and make it edible.

Cassave (Casabe) bread. Photo: Elizabeth Ann Foster
Cassave (Casabe) bread. Photo: Elizabeth Ann Foster

Be adventurous and ask for it if you order the scrumptious house dish. Yuca (boiled or fried), roasted pork, and onions complete the house special. The menu is in both English and Spanish.

I believe the water they serve on the table is from a tinajón, and you fall in love with the restaurant and always want to come back. Guetsy Torrez, our waitress, came from a city on the outskirts of Havana, not a Camagüeyana, so we were safe. Be careful!

Call ahead for hours of operation. We have driven over to find signs taped to the door for impromptu closures. Reservations not needed – yet. The house specialty is priced at $19.99 and can easily be shared by two. They also have a whole roasted pork shoulder with two sides serving 12, priced at $70. One of the few food bargains still left as we approach 2022.

Meson Camagüeyano
910 Cape Coral Pkwy East
Cape Coral, Florida

Closed Mondays

Another great Cape Coral Cuban restaurant is El Tropical.

Elizabeth Ann Foster

Elizabeth Ann Foster

Harvard-educated journalist and native New Yorker, Elizabeth Ann Foster is a master chef and founder of the Natural Epicurean Culinary School based in Austin Texas. She managed and trained natural foods' chefs at Casa De Luz community macrobiotic center serving downtown Austin and is a certified Chef from the Kushi Institute and Vega Center in holistic healing and vegetarian-based culinary cuisine. A world traveler with an international perspective and diverse interests, for nearly a decade she has written reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre for The Front Row Center and New York Theatre Guide, and currently resides in both Manhattan and beautiful Southwestern Florida.

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