Food 'full of flavor': Father and son open Cuban Street Cafe food truck in Ames
Father-son food truck owners Willie Fonseca and Anthony Fonseca opened a bright red food trailer in May that is a salute to their Cuban heritage. The Cuban Street Cafe sets up shop on the west side of the Lowe’s parking lot at 120 Airport Road in Ames.
Willie Fonseca, who now lives in Ogden, was born in Cuba and his family moved to the United States when he was 3 years old, when the family fled the Cuban Revolution, first going to Mexico and eventually settling in Florida. Anthony Fonseca was born in Orlando, Florida.
“I was raised here, but my parents are Cuban. Some of the recipes we use are my mom’s,” Willie Fonseca said. “And some are Anthony’s — a few of his own recipes that he’s developed.”
They roast a pork shoulder each morning to use on their Cuban sandwiches.
“We use our own mojo recipe to make the roasted pork with,” Anthony Fonseca said. “We make the mojo ourselves. We use that pork along with ham, Swiss cheese and pickles and press the sandwich on the grill.”
A staple of Cuban cuisine, mojo sauce is a garlic-citrus marinade the Fonsecas make using sour orange juice and a variety of spices.
“Cuban food isn’t that spicy — it’s not that hot, but it’s full of flavor,” Anthony Fonseca said.
For breakfast, the Fonsecas offer a breakfast sandwich with ham, egg and cheese; breakfast burrito with sausage, eggs, cheese and pico, a fresh, uncooked salsa; and coffee con leche, which is Spanish espresso with milk. Breakfast items range from $3.50 to $4, and they start serving at 7 a.m.
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The Cuban Street Cafe starts serving lunch around 11 a.m., when the roasted pork is tender and ready to serve, Anthony Fonseca said.
The menu features that pork in three of its items: the Cuban Sandwich, a hot-pressed sandwich with the roasted pork, along with ham, Swiss cheese, garlic sauce, mustard and pickles on pressed Cuban bread; Pan Con Lechon, a hot-pressed sandwich with the pork, garlic sauce and grilled onions; and a rice bowl that includes the pork, black beans and white rice.
For chicken fans, there are two options: Pan Con Pollo, a hot-pressed sandwich with chicken, grilled onions, garlic sauce and tomatoes; and a rice bowl with chicken, black beans and rice.
A veggie rice bowl is also available.
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For sides, the Cuban Street Cafe offers french fries and — one of their most popular menu items — platanos.
Platanos are plantain chips that the Fonsecas make two different ways — maduros, which are soft and sweet, or tostones, which are crunchy and salty.
Regular lunch and dinner menu items range from $2 to $8.
They plan to offer some specials on Fridays.
“We will have some special dishes like ropa vieja or fritas,” Willie Fonseca said.
Ropa vieja is like a pulled pork, but it’s made with beef instead, he said, as well as peppers, onions, tomatoes.
“Fritas is like a Cuban hamburger, but it’s beef mixed with chorizo,” Willie said. “It’s grilled with a red sauce and is topped with shoestring fries. It’s something different from your regular burger.”
Rosie Rodriguez, Willie Fonseca ’s girlfriend, also helps at the Cuban Street Cafe and is the expert on their pastries, which they occasionally sell on Friday mornings.
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“Pasteles are made with guava or coconut and puff pastry,” said Rodriguez, whose family originally came from Puerto Rico. “The other ones are quesitos and that is a cream cheese filling, which is an elongated puff pastry.”
Eventually, the Fonsecas would like to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Ames, but for now, they’re keeping busy with their bright red food trailer.
The Cuban Street Cafe is open Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.