TAMPA, Fla. — The story of Tampa's Cuban immigrants continues with Jesus and Robert Puerto.  

What You Need To Know

  • Soul de Cuba Café is on 6428 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa

  • There is Cuban food on tables and Tampa history on the walls

  • It is a family-owned Cuban restaurant, carrying on the Afro-Cuban experience

  • Mojo marinade is usually put on pork or chicken, popular during Christmas festivities

  • Jesus and Robert, the Puerto brothers, learned Cuban food traditions from their dad 

Along with excited family and friends, the Puerto brothers embark on serving Cuban food in their own hometown of Tampa, after two decades in spots like New Haven, Conn.

Now open in Seminole Heights, the family is celebrated with pictures of family then and now, in the old country and new.

Jesus Puerto wants to preserve the Afro-Cuban experience in Tampa, where immigrants of color succeeded in the face of marginalization and discrimination.

“This community actually helped Cuba to achieve independence from Spain," Jesus Puerto explained. "So, these cigar factory workers were pitching in and buying resources and sending them to Cuba between 1891 and 1898.”

Robert Puerto says it's an honor to make the food of his family for Tampa.

Easy Steps to Prepare Soul de Cuba Cafe Mojo Marinated Lechon Asado


  • Pork shoulder or butt: 10 to 12 pounds

  • Garlic: 4 to 5 peeled cloves

  • Spanish onion: 1 whole medium size

  • Sour orange: juice of 2 large

  • Distilled white vinegar: 1/2 cup

  • Oregano: 2 to 3 tablespoons

  • Cumin: 1 tablespoon

  • Salt: 1 to 2 tablespoons

  • Black pepper: 1 tablespoon

  • Olive oil: 2 tablespoons

  • Water: 1.5 cups


  • Lightly salt the outside of the pork.

  • In a blender or food processor, add all of the ingredients and blend until smooth and almost pourable. This is mojo.
  • Slather the mojo on to the pork and thoroughly massage all over for at least 3 minutes.

  • Marinade overnight.

  • The following day, preheat oven to 215°.

  • Place the marinated pork in a deep roasting pan and tightly cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven and set to cook for five to six hours.

  • Using a thermometer, insert and assured that the temperature of the pork is above 180°.

  • In the final hour, carefully remove the roasting pan and pork from the oven and carefully remove the aluminum foil.

  • Return the roasting pan and pork back to the oven to cook the final hour without the aluminum foil.

  • Remove the brown and tender roast pork from the oven and place on the serving dish and prepare for carving.

  • Accompany with extra-long grain white rice, Cuban style black bean soup and sweet fried plantains or tostones.