The coconut telegraph banged out the news about Marathon’s newest eatery, The Papi Steak, with incredible efficiency. Just days after the opening on May 8, there was a brisk business at the counter of a bright yellow food truck parked in front of Discount Rock and Sand at 43rd Street and U.S.1.
Some glanced at the menu, but others were confident enough in their decisions to call in the order. You see, this is not Ruberman Rodriguez’s first rodeo. From 2004 to 2008, he operated la Villa Blanca Café that was down near 22nd Street, and many years before that, a food truck behind the airport.
“A lot of people know us,” said his wife and spokesperson, Rosa, whom we all know as the cheerful, platinum blonde cashier from Publix. “And this is his dream. He’s always wanted to be a chef. Since we lived in Cuba he’s wanted this.”
Rodriguez operates The Papi Steak food truck with his cousin, Leonaldo Peña.
The best bet? You guessed it, the Papi Steak sandwich.
But Rosa said the tacos are selling pretty well. “The customers like them,” she said.
The entrees range from palomilla steak to the tacos to roasted pork and include white rice and black beans or moro (a combo of the two), with a choice of yucca, green plantains or sweet plantains. The sandwiches include the namesake, plus a Cuban sandwich, or the Cuban Cheese Steak Sandwich or just a delicious chicken sandwich. There are some outliers, too — chicken stirfry and kids’ chicken tenders. The sandwiches come with fries. Oh, and the portions are huuuuge.
“Yes, very big portions,” said Rosa. “And everything on the menu is less than $10.”
Her favorite dish is ropa vieja (shredded beef in a tomato sauce). It’s what she asks Ruberman to make at home, and what he recently made as a special for the food truck customers. Rosa said it sold out in less than an hour.
“No one has time to make ropa vieja at home, but everyone loves it. At least, that’s what I think,” Rosa said.
Ruberman is thinking about adding some seafood options in the near future. Regardless, if you want lunch, get there early.