E.B. Latin Bistro in southwest Plano, a little-known Cuban-inspired spot, has been open for almost six years. Owner John Kim greets everyone who enters and seems to have a good memory for repeat customers. He’s usually doing all of the front-of-the-house chores: greeting, seating, serving, and in between, stopping by and chatting at each table. It’s a physically small space, but the food and atmosphere are larger.
Empanadas stuffed with beef and cheese are served with ah jalapeño sour cream sauce.
While there’s a full bar, we’ve only gone there for lunch, and our most recent visit was no exception. We started with some empanadas, which come four to an order, each the size of a large ravioli. They’re stuffed with beef and cheese and come with a nice jalapeño sour cream sauce on the side. Very tasty, and the perfect size for dipping. Other appetizers include fried plantain chips, both of the tostones (savory) and maduros (sweet) variety, as well as a white queso, nachos and a guac dip.
They offer a wide-variety of Cuban-style sandwiches, wraps (fish, chicken, beef, vegetable, or pork rolled in warm tortillas), quesadillas, salads (salmon or tilapia, pulled pork and mango, or spinach), grill selections (pork chops, fish, beef, or chicken), enchiladas and tacos. But what we really come here for is the paella, which comes in several varieties: seafood, vegetable, and a chicken, sausage, seafood combo.
The ropa vieja Cubano sandwich
We started with a ropa vieja Cubano sandwich, made with brisket, onions and bell peppers sautéed with red ropa vieja sauce (a mild tomato-based sauce) and melted Monterey jack cheese. It's served on Cuban bread along with black bean soup and yellow rice. The beef was tender and the cheese nice and stringy.
Paella Valenciana with seafood, chicken and chorizo.
The paella we decided on was paella Valenciana, which comes with yellow rice, calamari, on-the-bone chicken, shrimp, chorizo, green peppers, onions, garlic and clam juice. This can be ordered for one or for two, and both are cooked and served in a cast iron skillet and brought sizzling to the table. The single-serving size is about eight inches in diameter.
The best part of a paella is the slightly crunchy and smoky layer of rice at the bottom of the skillet, and since there’s a fine line between a nice crust and burned rice, this can be hit or miss. The paella we got at this visit did not have as much crust as we preferred, but it did have some. Our first visit to this spot, on the other hand, featured a paella with a much more substantial crust. In fact, when John Kim noticed the rice-encrusted skillet that my wife had pushed away, he stopped at the table and said, “You’re not eating the best part!” and proceeded to pick up a spoon and scrape away the crunchy morsels. Now, that’s service and who doesn’t like to be guilted into eating more of your meal?
Recommended, but just don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the skillet if you want to stay on the good graces of the owner.
E.B. Latin Bistro, 6505 W. Park Blvd. (Prestonwood Park, Plano), 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday, 12-8 p.m. Sunday, Closed Monday.