Breaking News
More () »

Popular Rogers lunch spot strives for authentic Cuban taste

"The Cuban cuisine is good, it is rich and flavors and, there was nothing like that in the area."

ROGERS, Ark. — The Cuban sandwich or Cubano is a staple among Cuban Americans and south Florida. For this week's Cookin' with Abuela, we take you to a popular lunch spot that strives for an authentic taste.

"The Cuban cuisine is good, it is rich and flavors and, there was nothing like that in the area," said Francisco Galdamez, owner of Havana Tropical Grill. 

Galdamez is from Metapan Santana El Salvador and after living in Boston Massachusetts for 15 years, he found a home in Northwest Arkansas. Although not Cuban, Galdamez opened Havana Tropical Grill which was inspired by his wife's tropical roots.

"My wife is from the Caribbean," Galdamez said. "So, the flavor is a lot similar. So, I started getting it from that side. And then I went to Cuba. I went to Cuba quite a few times. And I spent times in you know, like weeks and different restaurants in Havana, Cuba, see how they do things you know, and everything to make them more authentic."

Bringing something new to Rogers, Galdamez has now been serving Cuban cuisine for 12 years.

"I cook for my customers and I, you know, enjoy seeing them enjoying my food. And it's something that I have no price for. It's what drives you."

"Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. And I don't want to stop, and you know, I can talk about this all day long. You know about food and how I love it."

But that almost came to a stop for the family-owned restaurant, like many others during the pandemic

"We got to a point that we're almost close, because no customers and you know, without them, we can survive," Galdamez said. "And, and what helped me a lot too was, you know, I have a lot of family working with me, so I had their support. And, and some of them, you know, got laid off because I couldn't afford to keep everybody here. But yeah, it was, it was tough. It was really hard. But we did survive."

"Believe it or not, we've got some people to come in for lunch and they come at dinner with their families. Or some new customers, they come in and try to, you know, for lunch, and now you see him here or like you see them like every day for like two weeks until they go through the whole menu."

It's why he continues to strive for authentic Cuban taste.

"I have a lot of customers that they've been following me for pretty much since the beginning," Galdamez said. "And that inspires me, you know, like to keep doing it. Keep going and not lose the authenticity, the flavor, because I mean, I don't want to disappoint. And I want them to keep coming."

Galdamez highly recommends you have a mojito with your Cubano.

Havana Tropical Grill is on 2nd Street in Rogers and is open every day starting at 11 a.m. with varying closing times.

RELATED: Springdale restaurant brings old-style Mexican taste and tradition to Arkansas

RELATED: Tesoro Beach in Springdale brings Mexican and Salvadoran flavors together

Follow 5NEWS on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Download the 5NEWS app on your smartphone:

Stream 5NEWS 24/7 on the 5+ app: How to watch the 5+ app on your streaming device

To report a typo or grammatical error, please email KFSMDigitalTeam@tegna.com and detail which story you're referring to.

Before You Leave, Check This Out