Celebrating Community and Creative Cuban Cuisine

 

By Cheryl Mandell

Fernandez interior

Fernandez Interior

For nearly 40 years, Fernandez The Bull has been known in Southwest Florida for “traditional Cuban dishes with a twist,” and there’s no argument here. When was the last time you were served a drink in a real glass lightbulb? Their clever cocktail named El Apagón, which means “blackout,” is a satirical reference to the blackouts Cubans regularly endure on the island.

The story of how this authentic restaurant came to fruition is nothing short of the American dream. In 1962, founder Luis Fernandez immigrated to the U.S. at age 16 in a covert exodus named “Operation Peter Pan” to escape rising communism in Cuba.

After many years working in the restaurant industry in Southwest Florida, Fernandez met and married his wife Raquel, who had fled Cuba with her family on a shrimp boat in 1980. Together they opened their first Fernandez The Bull in 1985, with a great desire to bring the delicious food of their homeland to the Southwest Florida community.

Four restaurants and nearly four decades later, the newest Fernandez the Bull opened in Bonita Springs this past December, a week before Christmas.

Owner Inaisis “Ina” Sanchez has poured every ounce of passion into every detail of her restaurants — from the decor to the carefully created dishes. “Believe me, the first month I was in the kitchen,” Sanchez said. “You need to do everything when you are an owner.”

Sanchez began her journey with the Fernandez family 10 years ago as a busser. Through determination and a true love for her job, her own American dream has been realized.

A gorgeous etched glass partition separates the beautifully eclectic bar in the middle of the restaurant from the surrounding dining area. Large, old-fashioned bulbs hang low throughout the restaurant and provide a traditional touch, along with the textured stucco, brick walls and hanging greenery which pay homage to old Cuba. Aside from the creative bar area, the focal point of the restaurant is undeniably the illuminated three-dimensional map of Cuba on the north wall.

Many traditional Cuban dishes like croquetas, mariquitas and Spanish-style hand-rolled tamal can be found on the menu, along with entrees such as Ropa Vieja, which means “old clothes” – a Cuban favorite of shredded flank steak cooked in light spanish tomato sauce with onions and peppers. There are an array of authentic seafood dishes including Seafood Varadero, named after the popular Cuban beach town, and Shrimp al Ajillo (garlic shrimp) as well as chicken entrees, sandwiches, soups, desserts and a bevy of beverages.

Fernandez The Bull is open for lunch and dinner daily — Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are happy hour specials available every day from 3-6 p.m. and live music on weekends. The restaurant also offers catering and online ordering.

If you’ve been looking for Cuban food closer to home, you’ve found it — and you might just be treated to a glowstick conga line led by a giant bull mascot!

 

OUR FAVORITES:

 

 

 

Empanadas

Empanadas

 

 

Empanadas – Traditional Latin-style empanadas served with seasoned chicken or beef, fried golden brown and served with housemade creamy cilantro sauce. This delicious classic is one of the most popular appetizers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Masitas de Puerco

Masitas de Puerco

 

 

 

 

Masitas de Puerco – One of Sanchez’s favorite dishes. Marinated chunks of pork, slow cooked then fried, topped with mojo sauce (a combination of citrus juices, oil, garlic and herbs) and sliced onions. Served with white rice and black beans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Churrasco

Churrasco

 

 

 

Churrasco – Expertly seasoned churrasco steak cooked medium, seared to generate flavor, then topped with the chef’s famous chimichurri sauce. It’s served with sweet plantains and arroz congri — a Cuban staple of rice and black beans cooked together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shrimp al Ajillo

Shrimp al Ajillo

 

 

 

Shrimp Al Ajillo – Shrimp sauteed in a savory blend of garlic, herbs and white wine, topped with capers. The tasty dish is served with yellow rice and a garden salad with scratch-made house dressing. A satisfying dish and house favorite in Bonita Springs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dessert Trio

Dessert Trio

 

 

Dessert Trio:
Flan – Using Señora Fernandez’s original recipe for over 34 years, this flan is as homemade as it gets. We all agreed it was the best flan we’d ever had! Served with grated coconut.
Guava Cheesecake – Smooth, creamy cheesecake is transformed into a Caribbean delight with a layer of pureed guava on top.
Tres Leches – A popular dessert throughout Latin America, Tres Leches, or “three milks” is a sponge cake soaked in sweet creams and topped with a light, whipped cream icing. A delectable finish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fernandez The Bull
3250 Bonita Beach Rd #207
Bonita Springs, FL 34134
239.676.7978
www.fernandezthebull.com

 

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