Potato stuffed with meat sounds appealing enough

Cuban oasis in Chula Vista shopping center

A spinach and cheese empanada, and a papa rellena de carne, cut open.
  • A spinach and cheese empanada, and a papa rellena de carne, cut open.

I can't pretend to have much experience eating at a Cuban bakery. To be specific, I was dealing with exactly zero experience before I stumbled across Los Pollos Rotisserie & Cuban Bakery.

An unassuming shopping center restaurant.

An unassuming shopping center restaurant.

Which was all the reason I needed to try it. But if I'm being honest, it didn't hurt that the name, and the two chicken heads in the logo, reminded me a little of Los Pollos Hermanos in Breaking Bad.

Los Pollos Rotisserie & Cuban Bakery

1372 Third Avenue, Chula Vista

The place has a small storefront in a large shopping center in Chula Vista; nothing fancy, a few plastic-coated tables and terra cotta floor tiles. Pastries are presented in a glass case, while a menu behind the counter offers rotisserie chicken and other Cuban specialties.

I tried a couple of things, with mixed success, but one thing in particular fascinated me: the papa rellena de carne. My Spanish tells me this is a potato stuffed with meat — which sounds appealing enough.

But when the proprietor explained it, I was sold. It's basically a seasoned stew of ground beef, folded inside a ball of creamy mashed potatoes, dipped in egg, coated in bread crumbs, and fried. Like a European croquette, but bolder. At $1.05, the golf-ball size morsel is an easy win. There's another papa rellena promising pollo picante for the same price.

I ordered a flaky spinach and cheese empanada for $1.79. By adding a $1.95 side of congri — Cuban rice and beans cooked together with bay leaf and garlic — I found myself enjoying an interesting meal.

It didn't leave me enough appetite to explore the Cubano sandwiches or rotisserie chicken, not to mention a pastry case filled with the likes of Cuban cheese puffs and flan.

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