Javier Salado is turning Nashville on to the delicious Cuban food of his childhood. Born in Miami to Cuban parents, Salado grew up with Cuban culture and cuisine all around him. Now, hundreds of miles away from the palm trees of South Florida, Salado is digging into his roots and sharing his rich heritage through his pop-up, Soy Cubano. Through carefully crafted dishes inspired by childhood Cuban classics, thoughtful presentation, and high-quality ingredients to enhance traditional flavors, Soy Cubano is showing Nashville a side of Cuban cuisine the city’s never had before.
Salado’s popup moves frequently, with a weekly schedule that takes the team from the 12 South Farmer’s market, Citizen’s Kitchen, the Nashville Farmer’s Market, and the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood bar, Never Never. For a sit-down experience to pair with beers or cocktails, I recommend going to the Soy Cubano pop-ups at Never Never. On a hot day with the garage doors open & Cuban music playing, the laid-back bar evokes a tint of that Miami/ Cuban feel. The Sunday brunch menu that Salado puts out at Never Never is one of the best you’ll find in the city, and you’ll be far from the brunching bachelorette crowds of downtown.
What to eat:
All the dishes on Soy Cubano’s menu are nothing short of exceptional. To stick with a Miami classic, go for the Cuban sandwich. This impeccably built sandwich is made with mojo pork, ham, swiss, pickles, and mustard. The breakfast frita is a dish unique to Miami that is packed with flavor. For more of a breakfast feel, the yuca and eggs are a great combination, or the black bean chilaquiles to pair with a beer.
Salado started Soy Cubano in August of 2020. While he always had a vision for a Cuban food concept, the pandemic gave him the time to think more deeply about what that concept would look like. For Salado, Soy Cubano is a way to honor the rich cultural and food legacy he received from his parents and the Cuban community he grew up with. For Salado, there is a three-question process on what he decides to put on his menu: is it authentically Cuban, did I grow up eating it, and will it translate well in the Nashville community. What started as just serving takeout out of Citizens Kitchen has quickly grown into something more. Soy Cubano plans to open in The Wash, a food hall development almost complete in East Nashville.
Salado’s mission is to recreate the nostalgia and emotions around the rich Cuban food of his upbringing, and to introduce that flavor profile to a broader community. His love and passion for Cuban cuisine is evident in every bite you take. Follow @EatSoyCubano to keep up with their menu and pop-up locations.
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