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541 Wiley Parker Road
Jackson TN 38305


Hello Jackson: La Cubanita


Hello Jackson: La Cubanita

Kristi Woody


Since opening in July 2013 at the West Tennessee Farmers' Market, the unique Cuban food of La Cubanita has been a big hit. La Cubanita is operated on the food truck model that has been growing in popularity all over the country.

Empanadas, the primary menu item, began as tapas from Spain. In the early 1900s, when the Spanish migrated to Cuba, they brought some of their food traditions with them. The recipe for La Cubanita’s empanadas has been passed down and perfected over four generations. Their recipe includes locally raised grass-fed beef sautéed with onions, green peppers, Latin spices, and green olives, simmered in a tomato-based sauce until perfection.

Cuban Chicken Fricase, the other empanada option, is tender chicken sauteed in Cuban sofrito, Latin spices, and green olives and simmered in a tomato and white wine-based sauce. Both of these recipes are placed into a dough and fried to a golden crisp becoming empanadas. Both the beef and chicken varieties are delicious! I highly recommend trying one of each on your first visit. You can also add a side to your empanada; they offer both homemade french fries and tostones, which are fried plantains.

Hector and Alana Lagares, along with Alana’s mother Maruchi Fraga, are the brains behind this bright blue food trailer. Hector and Alana are both very business-minded and have been dreaming of running a business for over a decade. When the food truck trend began, they knew it was the perfect time to fulfil their dream! Maruchi was seeking work at the time and offered to help with the cooking. The three of them set out to find the perfect trailer, which proved to be challenging. They were eventually able to get one custom built to their specifications down in Tampa, Florida, where they picked it up a few weeks ago. The official grand opening on July 13 went off without a hitch!

La Cubanita is an excellent addition to the cuisine in Jackson, a city with quite a bit of variety. The perfect time to drop by is before or after shopping at the Farmers' Market on Saturday morning. It might seem like an odd time to eat an empanada, but when I’ve gotten them I’ve just wrapped them up and eaten them a little closer to lunch. With a little of the Sriracha sauce, it’s a perfect late morning snack! The à la carte items, which include one empanada and fries or tostones, cost two to three dollars. The meals are six to eight dollars and come with an empanada, a side, and a drink. For a person with an average appetite, the meal is a great size!

I always like to know a little about the owner when I’m learning about a new business. I think that personal connection is one of the best things about supporting a local business! Maruchi was born in Cuba and later moved to Miami, Florida, where Alana was raised. Hector was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Miami in late childhood. According to Alana, Cubans and Puerto Ricans share many of the same traditional dishes, especially empanadas! Hector and Alana have been in Jackson for ten years and feel it is the perfect place to raise a family and run a business. Maruchi joined them six years ago when she realized they were here to stay. I love that La Cubanita is rooted in tradition and family!

Follow La Cubanita on Facebook for updates on time and locations.

Kristi Woody is a photographer and storyteller for our Hello Jackson features about locally owned retail stores and restaurants. She also works as the university photographer for Union University and owns her own wedding photography business, Woody & Pearl Photography. In her free time, Kristi enjoys spending time with her husband and rambunctious beagle, Rhett and Chipper respectively. If you can't find Kristi in Jackson, you'll find her in her second favorite place: Disney World!