PapilogoBy Andria Barrios

Local Cuban immigrant Mike Valladares and his family migrated into the states in 1968. In May of this year, they opened their own family restaurant in order to share the joys of Cuban cuisine with the residents of Riverview. Five months later, Papi’s Cuban Kitchen is thriving and plans to extend its hours and expand menu options to include breakfast.

“We’ve been blessed,” said Valladares. “Right from the beginning, people started talking and posting reviews, which has made us really successful.”

Papi’s, open Monday to Saturday, is the first restaurant he’s ever opened, and is primarily run by the Valladares family. Mike’s son, brother and close family friend all contribute to this closely knit, family-owned and operated business. His busy aunt does all of the cooking.

“All the ingredients are fresh and all the recipes are authentic Cuban, from her,” Valladares said. His personal favorite dish is called Cuban Style Chinese Fried Rice and consists of ham, chicken, beef, shrimp and rice seasoned with Spanish flavor and marinated overnight. This dish is a Friday special, and other daily specials like this one are run regularly throughout the week.

The traditional Cuban sandwiches, made the way they are in Ybor, are also a popular pick. These are crafted with real mojo pork, swiss, salami, ham, mustard and pickles and pressed to perfection. “You can’t go wrong with any menu choice you make,” said Valladares.

Customers may dine in or pick up. Papi’s offers everything from empanadas to picadillo, flan to plantains.

“We are in the process of offering more breakfast items,” said Valladeres.

Eventually, Valladeres plans to extend store hours to 7 a.m.-10 p.m. rather than the current 11 a.m.-8 p.m., which will allow for breakfast customers.

“We’ll offer pastries, Cuban toast and café con leche,” he said.

For more information, call 530-4733 or visit www.papiscubankitchen.com or www.facebook.com/papiscubankitchen/. Papi’s Cuban Kitchen is located at 13206 Boyette Rd.