Take a trip to Cuba with authentic cousine


Photo by Justin Greenzaid.

The outside of Colada Shop has many Cuban themed murals which immediately evoke the Cuban culture with the restaurant in Cabin John shopping center.

By Justin Greenzaid, Sports Editor

Colada Shop is a Cuban cuisine cafe and now has a location open at Cabin John Mall. The store  was opened in the spring of 2021 so it is still relatively new addition. The Colada Shop has two DC locations, one Virginia location, and now one location in Maryland as well. Colada Shop serves all sorts of food, coffee and cocktails and for the first time ever I tried out a few of their menu items. 

First and foremost, let me begin by saying I do not usually venture to new food places (hence why this is my first time trying Colada Shop). I typically stick to my comfort zone and eat a lot of fast food like Cava, Chipotle and Subway, so trying a more delicate Cuban cuisine cafe was definitely a step out of my comfort zone. 

Right away when walking into the shop I was hit with a wave of culture. It was like I just got off the plane and landed in Cuba. There was art, plants and a favorable aroma of coffee and smoothies. I was surprised by how many people were also in there; definitely a popular spot for all types of people. It made sense once I looked through the menu and saw they had all sorts of food for anyone and everyone. 

Some of the menu items were definitely a bit pricey: an $8 smoothie and $15 sandwich especially left a dent on the bank account. However, at the end of the day, it was worth it for the experience. The food truly made it feel like a genuine Cuban dining experience. 

Anyways, let’s start with the smoothie. I ordered an “In the Tropics” smoothie which includes mango, mamey and coconut water. Mamey is one of many fruits that I did not know about or try before coming to this restaurant, another is guava. The smoothie definitely lived up to its name as it was extremely refreshing. It encapsulated the feeling of getting off the beach at 6:00 pm and drinking some water with a lemon peel in it. The smoothie also had a pretty noticeable taste of mint. The flavor was pretty plain, as it was similar to water with a lemon wedge in it. It definitely was light on flavor but was extraordinarily refreshing. 

The entree I ordered was the spinach and egg white breakfast sandwich. This was probably the best item I ordered of the day. It was served on some phenomenal cuban bread that was the perfect texture and made the sandwich as a whole stand out from all other breakfast sandwiches. I’ve tried all types of breakfast sandwiches but this one just felt very clean and high quality. The eggs were of very good nature and I would definitely enjoy this again. 

Next I got into some smaller side dishes. I tried the picadillo (beef) empanadas, chicken croquetas, and guava pastelito. While eating the empanada I truly was not sure if I was enjoying it or not. It varied from one bite to the next but overall I probably would not get this one next time. The taste was very distinct and was also a little sweet. It probably just wasn’t my cup of tea but for others I would still recommend trying especially if you are an empanada fan. 

The chicken croqueta was another item that I found very hit or miss. I did not like this one and thought the filling inside just wasn’t that appetizing. However, my friend shared it with me and said he really enjoyed it. He said it reminded him of a crab cake but in mozzarella stick form and as a huge crab cake fan he absolutely loved the taste and the texture. This is another item that I wouldn’t try out again in the future but depending on the person someone could definitely enjoy. 

The guava pastelito was a very good pastry and capped off the meal very nicely. It was very sweet and the caribbean style breading around it was exceptional. Like the breakfast sandwich, it was the breading that drew me in and stole the show. The bread was very delicate and was once again just a fantastic texture. The exterior bread to interior guava filling ratio was also near perfect and I had no complaints on that end. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was enjoying it but after a few bites I adapted to it and ultimately decided it was delicious. It was definitely enjoyable trying a new type of fruit in a very unusual form to me and this is something I would not only try again but recommend to anyone. 

Oh and how could I forget, the Colada Shop Cuban. A very very good Cuban sandwich on once again Cuban style bread with ham, slow roasted pork, swiss cheese, mustard, pickles, and cilantro aioli. The only thing I have to compare it to is the Cuban sandwich from Panera but this was definitely a notch above Panera’s. The sandwich was the perfect size and was filling but also was not too much food or too little. The only thing that could possibly be adjusted is the amount of ham, I would have liked a little bit more but still enjoyable. 

Overall, I had a very solid dining experience. The customer service was great, the food was brought out to me very quickly, there were no mistakes with the food, and there was a great water station. I was a huge fan of the innovative water station and thought the blue glass cups used there were a beautiful touch. The only complaint with the water station was that there was no ice so the water was not as cold as some may desire.

As a whole I would definitely recommend anyone trying out the Colada Shop. Even if you have not tried Cuban cuisine yet this is a great place to start since it seems like they have something for everyone. The vibes were unmatched and definitely gave off Sunday afternoon energy- in the best way possible. Although there were a few things I wasn’t a fan of, the Colada Shop was still very delightful.