After 17 years as an occupational therapist, Cortina said she was ready for a change and wanted to open up a restaurant to bring Cuban culture to the surrounding area. This year, she and her husband, Habdyel Sarmiento, found a space along Parkwood Avenue in Friendswood.
“That was always our goal and our dream: to bring the culture and the flavor to this area [because] we noticed ... that everything was out in Houston or up in Katy,” Cortina said. “Everything was really far, and ... we wanted to open up a restaurant in this area.”
It took Cortina and Sarmiento two months to prepare and fix up the suite to their liking, she said. Once complete, they opened The Cuban Flavor on Sept. 11, she said.
In addition to its fare, Cortina wanted her restaurant to have a Caribbean atmosphere, so they filled the walls with various artwork of the Cuban coast, antique cars and cigars.
“I figured that the pictures could resemble more of the culture so people can kind of get an idea and just see how it is in Cuba,” Cortina said.
When it came to the food itself, Cortina said she knew the Cuban food was going to separate the restaurant right away, but the couple still wanted to provide as much of an authentic taste as possible. Both Cortina and Sarmiento are Cuban and so is the majority of their staff.
All but one employee at the restaurant is Cuban, Cortina said, which was something that happened by chance.
One way The Cuban Flavor keeps its authenticity is with its Cuban sandwiches, she added.
“They’re made with Cuban bread, and they’re hot pressed,” Cortina said. “They have roasted pork. They have ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles, which make it very traditional.”
Additionally, The Cuban Flavor bakes its Cuban bread daily for its sandwiches, Cortina said.
The Cuban Flavor has been a huge hit since launching, Cortina said. People loved it so much they have had to close early because they ran out of food, she said.
The restaurant’s reception in the area has left Cortina in awe, she said. They have had customers that come in for lunch and then come back with their family for dinner, Cortina said.
Eventually, Cortina said she hopes The Cuban Flavor can host various events such as a domino night or an antique car show, where people with classic vehicles can park outside the restaurant and enjoy the food, as well as the Friendswood restaurant’s overall family atmosphere.
“It’s been a blessing,” Cortina said. “We didn’t expect that many people on our opening day.” The Cuban Flavor
The Cuban Flavor
709 W. Parkwood Ave., Ste. G, Friendswood
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., closed Sun.