Mambo Lounge
By Sue Nador

A Cuban Home on the Danforth

Opening Mambo Lounge was no first step into Cuban food and culture for owner Andres Gonzales. In the 1990s, after graduating from university as a nuclear engineer, he quickly shifted gears to promote tourism in his native country, Cuba. Andres helped develop Cayo Coco and Havana as major tourist destinations and was the director of one of the biggest hotels in Cuba. In 2001, he was promoted to Canada to run a major campaign for Cuban tourism.

Andres and his family fell in love with Toronto and decided to stay. But there was a piece missing. “I was missing my culture,” he explains. “Cubans enjoy life. It doesn’t matter who your parents are, or the situation you are in. We try to get the best out of life.” At first, he decided to start a place for him and his friends. “It was a place for us to hang out on the weekends and enjoy Cuban music and food.”

It wasn’t too long before the gathering of Cuban friends grew to the next level. “At the time, the Danforth was a hot spot,” recalls Andres. “We started to build a new hangout where people could experience a piece of Cuba.” In 2006, Mambo opened its doors to the Danforth community. While now much bigger than the original “friend” concept, it remains true to its family roots.

Cuba’s best offerings aren’t the food in the restaurants, but those you encounter when invited into someone’s house. In the home is where the passion for food comes out. - Andres Gonzales, owner
Andres Gonzales serves up some of the best mojitos in town.
Andres Gonzales serves up some of the best mojitos in town.

The Whole Cuban Experience

Mambo offers patrons the whole Cuban experience. Andres explains, “We are not just for a mojito or camarones, or the music – you can see the whole thing together.”

The food at Mambo is not what tourists might experience in Cuba. “Cuba’s best offerings aren’t the food in the restaurants, but those you encounter when invited to someone’s house,"  says Andres. "The home is where the passion for food comes out.” It's no surprise, then, that the food at Mambo mirrors the simple recipes from back home. Think tapas like yuca frita, mains such as confit de canard and flan de coco for dessert.

The drink goes hand-in-hand with the food. And while there is a wide selection, the mojitos stand out. Mambo’s mojitos have been ranked in the press as the best in the city for ten years straight.

Mambo Lounge's mojitos have been ranked in the press as the best in the city for ten years in a row.

Get this Party Started

Food: check. Drinks: check. It's time to party! Mambo hosts many special events, including Cuban Carnivale, which features colourful dancers and live music. On nights like these, everyone gets into the action by playing with maracas (shakers). Evaristo, a famous Cuban guitarist, is a regular performer at Mambo.

Mambo Lounge is not just for the Latin community. Many Canadians come to the restaurant to experience a taste of Cuba before going there on vacation. “Canadians have a love for Cuba,” Andres observes. “Many come here for tips and advice before they go.”

Andres loves to see happy people. He appreciates that Toronto is a very busy city. But at Mambo, “you can take a moment to enjoy life.”

Mambo Lounge brings a taste of authentic Cuba to the Danforth community.
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