The night after the launch of space shuttle Endeavour, Todd and I had dinner at El Leoncito, a Mexican and Cuban restaurant on the Washington side of Highway 1 (northbound) in Titusville. The parking lot was full when we arrived at 7 pm.

Todd and I ordered mojitos, which were sweeter than he would have made them, and a tad watery. The old-school waiter brought black bean soup as an appetizer. I misunderstood him when he asked if I wanted onion and cheese on it; I thought he was suggesting it for the picadillo. He spoke softly and not very clearly.

Of the 8 Cuban dishes on the menu, I ordered picadillo, which like shepherd’s pie features ground beef and potatoes but adds raisins and a sofrito base (onion, garlic, tomato, peppers). Unlike the salty picadillo I had at Cuba Cuba in Denver, this dish was warm and spicy and made me want to keep eating it. And I didn’t need to hunt for the raisins.

Todd ordered palomilla, or top sirloin served Old Havana style (half an inch thick). It was a bit tough and not as flavorful as the picadillo.

El Leoncito also lists churrasco under the Cuban dishes; it is an Argentinian-style steak marinated in mojo de ajo, topped with chimichurri paste, and served on a sizzling pan.

The plantains were dark and moist, the best I’ve ever had. The Cuban bread looked like smashed bread-biscuits. I didn’t care for it.

By the end of the meal I was annoyed with our waiter. A young man, he was courtly to me but handed the check to Todd and was always calling him “senor.” These days he could at least put the check in the middle of the table and let us decide.

El Leoncito had quite the hall of celebrities by the bathrooms, including signed pictures by Andy Garcia and Tiger Woods.

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