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Monday, December 27, 2010

Cha Cha Cha Two-Steps into San Mateo

Posted By on Mon, Dec 27, 2010 at 6:53 AM

click to enlarge Owners Philip Bellber and Leon Pak chose the Peninsula for the third location of Cha Cha Cha. - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • Owners Philip Bellber and Leon Pak chose the Peninsula for the third location of Cha Cha Cha.

Just in time for holiday celebrations, San Francisco's 27-year-old Cuban restaurant, Cha Cha Cha, chose San Mateo for its third location.

click to enlarge LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong

Called Cha Cha Cha Cuba, the new place from owners Philip Bellber and Leon Pak took over the space formerly inhabited by Peruvian restaurant Machu Picchu, which also means less competition for Peruvian restaurant Las Americas just a block away. The opening represents a welcome change of pace for this area of San Mateo, long a haven for numerous Japanese restaurants.

We arrived at brightly decorated Cha Cha Cha Cuba just as the staff was putting the finishing touches on festive decorations for dinner service. As far as we could tell, the menu features the same tried-and-true dishes (and prices) of the S.F. locations. We recognized our favorites: steamed black mussels, sautéed mushrooms, jerk chicken, and, of course, the famous sangria.

click to enlarge Cha Cha Cha Cuba's lechon asado with fried platanos and Cuban rice and beans, $13.50. - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • Cha Cha Cha Cuba's lechon asado with fried platanos and Cuban rice and beans, $13.50.

Our takeaway order of lechon asado ($13.50) made a very good first impression. Meat from a marinated leg of pork was hot from the oven, succulent and delicious, the congri (Cuban rice and beans) perfectly seasoned, and the fried plantains wonderfully sweet. The food at this new outpost should have Peninsula diners ― or at least their taste buds ― dancing the cha-cha.

Cha Cha Cha Cuba: 112 South B (at First Ave.), San Mateo, 650-347-2900. Current (holiday) hours: Tue.-Thu., noon-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., noon-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Closed Sun.-Mon.

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Luis Chong

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