El Ambia Cuban Restaurant at Downtown Melbourne

One of the many things Florida is known for is it’s Cuban food and the Space Coast has plenty of great options to try some. I had not tried much before moving down here, but now I am lover of everything from pastelitos to ropa veja. There are a lot of tasty cuban restaurants in the area from Cuban Island to Nini’s Cuban Cuisine, but we always tend to come back to our favorite, El Ambia Cubano. This traditional cafe is located right across from the river in Downtown Melbourne and never fails to impress us. It is always a lovely place to go, whether it be with a group of out of town visitors, or a quick stop for some cuban coffee.


El Ambia Melbourne FL Cuban restaurant

This restaurant is very small though, so be sure to call ahead if you have a big party. This is why we almost always sit on the outside, as the inside just has a few tables. The patio has an awesome atmosphere with fun decor and frequent live music. This place is also filled with history and the servers will be happy to tell you all about the owner and how he actually defected here from Cuba in a Cuban Airliner in the mid-nineties! He realized there was not as many authentic options up here like there were in Miami, so he opened this restaurant to share his heritage. We have found this place to stay true to that and we learn a lot about the food and the culture every time we go.

Drinks and Apps

El Ambia Melbourne FL Cuban restaurant

They have a great drink selection which is much needed being out on the patio. I love their sweet and minty mojitos  or the refreshing sangria. They also have some extremely strong Cuban coffee which can be nice after a filling lunch. I do not always get appetizers at other restaurants, but I have to here because of all the good options! I have learned that I love yuca, which is kind of like a potato with its starchy texture. They serve yucca frites which are like fries and then drizzled in a mojo sauce, and yuca rellena which is yuca stuffed with picadillo (ground beef and tomatoes). These are both delicious, along with the papa rellana which takes it to an even more savory level by frying a mashed potato ball stuffed with beef. They also have empanadas and tamals, which are more mainstream options for picky eaters. All of these appetizers are great for sharing and I do not have any pictures of them, because everyone is usually so eager to try them!

Must-Try Main Courses

El Ambia Melbourne FL Cuban restaurant

You really cannot go wrong as far as entrees go. The classic entree is either roasted pork or ropa veja. Ropa veja is tender beef in a tomato based sauce and the roasted pork is a tender pork. Both come with white rice, black beans and plantains to make up a traditional Cuban meal.  I am partial to the roast pork, whereas Andrew prefers the ropa veja, but they are both melt in your mouth good! The entree sizes are huge and usually have plenty leftover for another delicious meal and this food makes for perfect leftovers.

El Ambia Melbourne FL Cuban restaurant

Another popular option here is the Hemingway Rice, which is a paella with a lobster tail. The paella has a great balance of spices and so much succulent fish in it, but I am not a fan of the bed of lettuce they put it on. You can always ask for it with the salad on the side instead, although it does make for a nice presentation as is. They have plenty of other options including a roasted chicken leg and fried snapper, but if this is your first time I have to recommend the pork or ropa veja. They are just the classic Cuban dishes that have been perfected here!

Sandwiches (Cuban and Otherwise)

You can also choose from a wide array of sandwiches for lunch or dinner. I have only had the Cuban, but it is one of the best done versions I have had with pork and ham along with the swiss cheese, pickles and mustard pressed in a flaky bread. They rest of their sandwiches are sort of different versions of Cuban sandwiches, like one on sweet bread, one with just pork and mojo onions, and one with shredded beef. They all make for very affordable and tasty lunch options, but definitely follow it up with Cuban coffee if you do not want to be in a food coma for the rest of the day!

El Ambia Melbourne FL Cuban restaurant

I have never ordered dessert here because there is so much food!! But being here is always a treat because I really enjoy the atmosphere. If you go at sunrise you will be treated to a colorful sky while you dine and can almost feel like you are in Havana with the stringed lights overhead. We usually follow up a meal with a walk around Downtown Melbourne and it makes for such a romantic night. This restaurant is a Melbourne classic and I always recommend it to out of state tourists. If you are visiting the area, this is your chance to try real Cuban food as I have found nothing even close to similar outside the state. Make sure not to miss this chance!

Delicious Cuban Food at Melbourne's El Ambia That You Need to Try

Have you tried Cuban food before? We also have some Puerto Rican and Dominican restaurants in the area that I need to try!