35 S. Peachtree St., Historic Norcross
Open since: April 2008
Location: Mojitos is located on the square in downtown historic Norcross. The bistro is located in Norcross' original grocery store, and the 135-year-old structure retains its original brick.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday
Owner: Mojitos is owned by Luis and Yanin Fernandez, self-proclaimed "musicians turned restaurateurs." Yanin is a former EMI recording artist. In 2000, after residing in Germany and Mexico City, the couple decided to return to the United States and venture into the service industry with an authentic Cuban eatery.
Atmosphere: White tablecloths cover each table, and the front room's picture windows, framed by flowing white curtains, overlook the bustling streets of historic Norcross. The walls are lined with tropical-themed works by local artist Ellie Harold, while prints of old Pan Am advertisements for Cuba occupy the walls of the middle interior of the space. Traditional Cuban music fills the small space, bringing it to life, as employees don the traditional Cuban dress, the Cuban guayabera.
Menu: With owner Yanin's mother at the helm, the kitchen produces traditional, authentic Cuban dishes. "It's the stuff we grew up with, basically," owner Luis Fernandez said.
"We wanted to do something that reflected our values, which was just family values," said his wife, Yanin, with whom he opened the restaurant. "We have added our own stuff (to the traditional dishes), just growing up in the United States."
Some of the plates include this Cuban-American "fusion" which pairs traditional dishes with homemade sauces and spices. The items are all made fresh in-house, including the roast pork that is in many of the sandwich items. The Cuban bread is from Miami, authentic and fresh.
The Cuban sandwich and the Elena Ruth, a Cuban specialty favored by President Teddy Roosevelt, are among the popular lunch offerings. The Guantanamera salad is a twist on a simple mixed green salad with baby spinach, caramelized pecan halves, diced pears, goat cheese and a homemade champagne-guava vinaigrette. Luis has perfected a Guava barbecue sauce for the baby back ribs.
Paella is usually available on Saturdays, and homemade soups are often offered daily. The roast pork loin is a popular option, marinated with special spices and slow roasted for six hours. The menu includes chicken, seafood, pork and beef, as well as the restaurant's namesake, the famous mojito.
Things you might not know: With Luis and Yanin's euphonious background, music has been an integral part of Mojitos.
"Friday nights and Saturday nights, we have live music," Luis said. "It's very much call and response. We pass out the maracas, we pass out the claves, people get involved."
"It's a different atmosphere, so if you want to have a quiet dinner, that's not gonna work here on Friday and Saturday night," Yanin said. "Just because everything becomes like a party."