Picadillos at Rumba Cuban Kitchen in Windsor, CA. Photo: Heather Irwin

Picadillos at Rumba Cuban Kitchen in Windsor, CA. Photo: Heather Irwin

Was it kismet that the day I just couldn’t control my craving for a real Cortadito also happened to be the day that America finally reached out a hand of diplomacy to Cuba? Seems I wasn’t the only one celebrating this historic moment, as table after table filled at Windsor’s Rumba Cuban Kitchen, with orders of Cubano sandwiches, chimichurri steak, beef Picadillo and sweet Cuban espresso came steaming out of the kitchen.

This tiny family-owned cafe, which opened last year, has been quietly gaining a following for its authentic Caribbean cooking that’s a mix of Latin, African and island flavors. Emphasis on “quietly” until a month or two ago when the buzz started heating up, and folks were repeatedly asking me, “Hey, how’s that Cuban place?”

Steak Chimichurri at Rumba Cuban Kitchen in Windsor, CA. Photo: Heather Irwin.

Steak Chimichurri at Rumba Cuban Kitchen in Windsor, CA. Photo: Heather Irwin.

My dining buddy, Emily, kinda summed it up after watching me swoon and sigh over a plate of Picadillo (ground meat in a sweet and savory Creole sauce) with madras (sweet plantains).

“I wish I could take a picture of your face. It’s hilarious,” she said, rolling her eyes and smiling with the same idiotic look I’d been making.

Here’s the thing: I kept doing it. A thin slice of steak with garlicky, green chimichurri and black beans. Oh. My. God. Same with the red beans and rice. And again with a grilled Cuban sandwich with roasted pork, ham, Swiss, pickles and mustard on real Cuban bread and fried “croquetas” filled with beef and ham. Where have you been mi carino?

Cuban Sandwich at Rumba Cuban Kitchen in Windsor, CA. Photo: Heather Irwin.

Cuban Sandwich at Rumba Cuban Kitchen in Windsor, CA. Photo: Heather Irwin.

To really get things right at Rumba Cuban Kitchen, its best to take an island attitude and let whatever happen, happen. Off-menu specials tend to be some of the best dishes, but you’ll need to be willing to ask a few questions to get the best results.

We spent a full five minutes grilling our waitress on explanations for everything from mariquitas (fried savory plantains), Cafe Con Leche (sweetened Cuban espresso with milk), red versus black beans (red are studded with bits of pork fat, black aren’t) and the “Mojo” roasted pork (slow-roasted pork infused with garlic and citrus). It’s worth asking, because we also got a side of recommendations for specialties of the house.

Cuban Coffee with Cream at Rumba Cuban Kitchen. Photo: Heather Irwin

Cuban Coffee with Cream at Rumba Cuban Kitchen. Photo: Heather Irwin

With a small staff of mostly family members, it’s best not to rush things or be in too much of a hurry. There’s a McDonald’s down the street if that’s your game.

Instead, slow down, put your mind on simmer and sip a sweet, creamy cup of Cuban coffee while pondering your own diplomatic relations with this delicious Cuban cuisine.

Cuban Coffee with Cream at Rumba Cuban Kitchen. Photo: Heather Irwin

Cuban Coffee with Cream at Rumba Cuban Kitchen. Photo: Heather Irwin

Rumba Cuban Kitchen, 8750 Old Redwood Hwy, Windsor, (707) 687-5632.