On the Menu: Latin American Cafe

Born of Cuban descent, and a family-taught restaurateur of over 30 years, Manny Camps literally grew up in a kitchen. He and his family moved to Ocala from Miami some 11 years ago and have been doing business as Latin American Café for over 6 years.

Walking into Latin American Café, I realized that this experience was to be extraordinary. I absolutely loved the newly renovated dining area complete with perfect lighting and table placement, cleverly adorned with an exquisite wall mural and photos taken in Cuba. With maximum capacity for about 20, it is seemingly small but the space is so impeccably utilized, it doesn’t seem so.

This is truly an Autentica Cocina Cubana, which translates to an “Authentic Cuban kitchen” in English. Prolific Cuban heritage in its most palatable form – food and beverage. Owner Manny Camps is, one word, genuine. One of the warmest and most compassionate men you’ll ever meet. His wife Isabel, a true artist in her own right, and their amazing kitchen staff complete this family, dedicated to every detail, both professional and personified.

Start your day with a Cuban coffee, Café con leche or a hot tea. Traditional chocolate milk is available for the kids; as well as blissful milkshakes. Food, you say, for the most important meal of the day? Omelets, oatmeal, even grits, too. Try a Cuban pressed breakfast or a machito you can eat on the run. Manny serves freshly baked bread and pastries, too! The variety of selections seems endless – however…

Let’s do lunch! You’re in for a treat! The menu is so completely comprehensive it may appear overwhelming. No problem, Manny to the rescue! He runs the dining room and will also help you select a perfect meal choice. If it’s a visual you need – done. In plain view, a flat screen displays choice specialty items and custom culinary creations.

Burgers with Latin love are on the grill served with your choice of homefries, side salad, or black beans and white rice.

Pressed Cubans, roasted pork, midnight bread with such a succulent sweetness, Cuban chicken steak, Croquettes and Chorizos are all on the menu! Daily specials such as Chicken Fricasse, beef stews and meat pies make mouths water. Pot roast, Shrimp Creole and a Spaghetti Cubano are all Magnifico! Ox Tail (served on Fridays only), Cuban egg rolls and a house made hot sauce keep them coming back. I could barely pronounce anything that I ate, yet this delightful family kept bringing me more. I said, “No mas” and they laughed as a deep fried potato ball was placed in front of me. Everything on the menu are family recipes, handed down through generations. There is at the Latin American Cafe for everyone. In my book, the little things make the difference. To Manny, it seems second nature.

The patrons love this guy! One of Manny’s customers, Kalex, was picking up a 6pm carry-out order. I asked Kalex about his favorite menu item. He replied, “Everything is my favorite. It’s absolutely wonderful. This is my spot!” Manny’s customers are comprised of mostly regulars and retired folks; some driving as far as a few hours to this destination. With prices to please, ($3.50-$9 range), it’s affordable enough for even the most challenged budget. Stop in as I did. It will certainly, in my opinion, become your new spot as well!

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