MCALLEN, Texas — This week Meals with Matute takes you to Balsero Latin Kitchen & Seafood, a place tucked away in the streets of McAllen where the public can get a taste of Cuban cuisine.
“The foundation of Cuban cuisine is Creole cooking,” said Norberto Echemendia. “It’s the fusion of African, Spanish, and Caribbean food.”
Echemendia is a Cuban immigrant with many talents; one of which is cooking.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Norberto said he put his faith in God, his family, and his cooking to open the doors of Balsero in November 2020.
Now it is the only Cuban restaurant in the Rio Grande Valley.
“I started with Cuban food because that’s my country,” said Norberto.
He was raised in the countryside which he said inspired him to use only fresh ingredients.
“We’ve cooked up these dishes so that people from other Caribbean and Latin American countries can come and enjoy food from their homelands too,” said Norberto.
And it is proven to be a healthy approach.
He said customers keep coming back for more of that hard-to-find Creole cuisine.
“The food that represents Cuban creole cooking the most is the ropa vieja, los moros con christianos, la yuca al mojo de ajo, los platanos maduros, and los tostones rellenos,” said Norberto.
“When we set a plate for our customers, we hope they can feel the detail and energy that went into it.”
What makes Balsero’s food a must-have?
“We let the food simmer so that the flavor soaks every dish,” said Norberto. “We’ve had hard times, but our business has been a real blessing.”
There are other Caribbean food places in the RGV, but Balsero’s Latin Kitchen & Seafood is the first Cuban restaurant.
Norberto hopes that in five years there will be several Balsero locations in the RGV so that people can enjoy the unique cuisine.