Mambo Jambo – Windward Parkway

Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.

Let’s get the confusing part out of the way first. This joint is Mambo Jambo, not Mambo’s Cafe. Mambo’s Cafe is on Haynes Bridge, not terribly far away. The menu is really similar, Spanish/Cuban food. And as a matter of fact, I think Mambo’s Cafe used to be called Mambo Jambo several years ago. Confused yet?

Mambo Jambo has opened up in the space formerly occupied by Mad Italian and before that McAllister’s Deli. It is set back from Windward, behind Xian and Sushi Nami. They are a little hard to find but still in a decent spot, especially for the cubicle crowd.

When I first learned they were coming, I surveyed the website from their south Florida location. It is heavy on the seafood and heavy on the prices. I figured they were trying to compete with places like Vinny’s for the expense account crowd. Yet their lunch menu is somewhat affordable, with entrees ranging from about $8 to $15 or so.

Like a lot of similar restaurants around here, they are not strictly Cuban. There are Peruvian and Argentinian influences to the menu. There’s a ton of variety including ceviches, parrillia and paella.

For lunch yesterday I started with the empanadas. Simply delicious, the best part of the meal. It was a sample of three different fillings; beef, chicken and spinach. They were packed with flavor and not greasy at all.

I regret not trying seafood for my entree. Instead I ordered “Masas de Puerco a la Criolla”, which I effortlessly pronounced in a perfect Spanish dialect. Yeah right, I pointed to it on the menu. These are fried pork hunks with an onion topping. They were tender with the right amount of texture from the fryer. The portion here was very generous considering it came from the lunch menu. I didn’t come close to finishing it. I was a little disappointed that the rice was white and not yellow. The black beans were also a little disappointing. They lacked that robust flavor that I’m used to in this side item.

But all in all it was a good lunch. I’m not going to ding them too much on execution at this point, considering that they’ve been open just a few days. The menu is so vast that I think you need to visit a few times to get your hands around it. The service was very friendly and personable. They make you want to come back. I’d consider it for a romantic date night as well!
Mambo Jambo A Nuevo Seafood and Steak Cafe on Urbanspoon

4 Responses to “Mambo Jambo – Windward Parkway”

  1. YankeeChef September 15, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    I agree with this review. I am a bit biased since I have gotten to know George and the rest of the team quite well but my wife and I had a date there last week and couldn’t have been more pleased. You’re quite right, I saw so many things I wanted to try, it was hard to pick one. Empanadas were incredible and the duck was mouth watering. I can’t wish enough success to them. It was an amazing evening.

  2. Foodie September 17, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    I also enjoyed the food and look forward to trying some of the seafood entrees. The rice needs to be authentic, not instant rice, which is what we got (could this be the gringo rice on the menu?) The beans need at least, diced onions or green peppers, or both. They were disappointing for us also. Nevertheless, we will return for more and hope the rice gets better!

  3. MILTONville January 12, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    The owners, Jorge and Zaida, couldn’t be nicer; Good people…. and their Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce just melts in your mouth. It was outstanding on NYE2011. I prefer it at night when they light all those candles and have live music.

    Really Good People, Great Food, Groovy Atmosphere. You can’t go wrong.

  4. MarkThomas247 July 9, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    I just had lunch here and had the “Masas de Puerco a la Criolla” aka pork chunks. Thank you for the recommendation! It was fabulous. I can’t wait to go back and try their Cuban sandwich. This is a nice place with lots of outdoor seating. I might have to bring the wife here for a date night.

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