Cuban restaurant El Libre has opened the doors at its new and much bigger Uptown location (3151 Calhoun), taking over the four decade-long home of Bud’s Broiler burger joint. El Libre closed its original French Quarter location in December.
In a nod to that space’s past, burgers and fries made it onto the concise menu along with Cuban classics like cubano sandwiches (a pressed sandwich filled with roasted pork shoulder, pickles, mustard, and Swiss cheese), mojo-marinated chicken, rice, and black beans.
Ropa vieja lands on top of nearly everything: po-boys, seasoned waffle fries, and burgers. (Other toppings for waffle fries include pork, black beans, and avocado.) There’s also a vegetarian cubano on the menu. Menu items hover around $10.
A full bar slings rum-based Cuban classics like daiquiris, mojitos, and Cuba libre cocktails. On a recent visit, the bartenders were playing around with a rum-based coffee cocktail with mint, a twist on the Grasshopper. It’s not on the menu yet and it doesn’t have a name, but it’s very worthy of a spot there and the bartenders will happily make it if only asked.
Owner Blake Lindberg first opened El Libre in the French Quarter in 2015, which he closed on December 10. Lindberg’s former business partner, Konrad Kantor, opened Cuban bar and restaurant, Manolito, in El Libre’s former French Quarter home with bartending heavy-hitters Nick Detrich and Chris Hannah as partners.
The restaurant is taking it easy for its first month with opening hours Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It’ll amp things up in June when it expands to a daily schedule.
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