By Ken Laba
Tonight, I enjoyed, firsthand, a new (yet not-so-new) gem of a family Cuban restaurant in Burbank. Immediately upon entering this vibrant, sparkling-clean establishment, I was greeted by their gracious manager, Efren, who was quick to seat me. Lively, crystal-clear Cuban/Latin music was playing.
“Not so new,” as this is the second location of El Criollo, run by Alberto Sera. The original location — now at 6622 Van Nuys Blvd. — was established over 30 years ago in Van Nuys, by Alberto’s parents, William & Niurca Sera. You will experience the “true flavors of Cuba” here. They have a dining room, full bar, banquet room, and catering.
On Saturday nights, El Criollo offers Salsa classes starting at 7:30 till 8:30. Then, at 9, with a live DJ you can dance and escape to Havana or drift away to any other Latin destination. Live music on Fridays coming soon.
Their decor is very nice, with colorful pictures and two wide flat-screen televisions over the bar. Their menu is rich with heritage, and their food is bursting with flavor. From appetizers to salads, and popular entrees of beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian, there’s something for everyone. Including sandwiches and desserts, which are sure to please.
Weekly specials — including “all day happy hours” — occur Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.—7 p.m. With $4 Mojitos and well drinks, and $3.50 beers. Mojito Mondays (dine-in only) are priced at only $2.95 a Mojito (you cannot go wrong) and 25% off the entire food menu. They offer take-out too. I thoroughly enjoyed everything!
P.S. Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, and Gloria Estefan love El Criollo. Located in the Burbank Terrace Plaza at 916 W. Burbank Blvd. Open 7 days a week, Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.—9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.—12 a.m. Self-parking, with a friendly staff. For more information, visit cubanfoodla.com, burbank.cubanfoodla.com, or call (818) 260-0211.