Mambo’s Cafe is a popular Cuban-Peruvian eatery, well liked by its patrons. I came here for lunch recently, liked it, and came back with my family the next day. Lunchtime is crowded. It took 5 minutes until the rush grew slow enough that staff even made eye contact with me, much less offer a word or a table. Once two tables cleared, a waitress then smiled, pointed, and I was seated.

This eatery is located on Haynes Bridge Road, just before the intersection with Old Minton Road. It’s on the left as you’re heading north, in a shopping center whose supermarket has abandoned the complex. There is no sign visible from the street and the eatery itself is almost impossible to see until you’re in the parking lot. I guessed, based on the map Urban Spoon provided and a feeling I was at the right intersection.

Once inside, there aren’t very many seats, over a dozen but not by much. There is a small bar in the back and a screen covers the opening into the kitchen. Once seated, staff will supply a basket of a very good garlic bread, and what Chow Down Atlanta has called an aji sauce. First time I was served this, I made enough room in my diet for a chunk of the bread and some sauce. Very much worth it.

For lunch I had the pan con bistec. It’s a sandwich with grilled palomilla steak, onions, greens, potato sticks and mayonnaise. I scraped off the sticks – there were plenty of those – and ate about half the bread. Serving sizes in this restaurant are large, and for their size, lunch sandwiches are pretty cheap. Rather than fries, Mambo’s let me substitute salad greens. That was certainly welcome.

picante de camarones

Yellow rice, and plantains.

At dinner I knew my family was going to go for the paella, and I wanted one of the Peruvian dishes that Mambo’s offered. I ended up choosing the picante de camarones, and since the paella takes at least 30 minutes, we started with ceviche mixto.

ceviche mixto

The ceviche was quite good, a mix of seafoods and fish in a good citrus base. I spent my time digging out bits of red onion and lettuce and soaking them in the sauce. My daughter rummaged through the dish looking for bits of octopus; she especially liked the short bits of tentacle. The picante de camarones was also good. The shrimp are cooked in a yellow pepper sauce. There may have been a hint of sweet in the sauce, but not enough to make a difference.

paella. The pan is about 13-14" across, and pretty deep.

The paella was the star of the meal, coming out in a large metal pan, the serving size so large that both my wife and my daughter were eating from it and they left about half of it to be doggie bagged. It’s a huge serving, given the price. That’s typical of Mambo’s, to provide a lot of value for the dollar.

The sides were good. My wife spent a good deal of time looking for the toastier plantains and eating them. She doggie bagged the ones less cooked. Service, once you catch staff’s eye, is pleasant, thoughtful, and good. My wife described our waitress as “very sweet”.

Verdict: Good to excellent food, exceptional value. Very Highly Recommended.

Mambo’s Cafe
11770 Haynes Bridge Road, Suite 601
Alpharetta GA, 30009

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