Last Update
Aug 7th, 2019

CAO Bakery

1535 N Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33304
Overall Rating
2.5
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
08/05/2019

Details

Hours: 8am - 9pm
Dress Code: Casual
Parking: Private lot
CC: Yes, Sign with Finger
HasWifi: Yes
Wifi password: Annoying Log in Procedure
Outdoor: Yes

Pros

Good Selection of Unique Cuban Bakery Items
Authentic Recipes

Cons

Disorganized Setup
No Menu or Published Phone Number

Critic's Review

I stopped in this place when they first opened and they didn't have any prices for the croquettes and empanadas, so I ended up getting a sandwich. More than a month later, they still have no prices for these items. I decided to take a chance.

They must be on rotating commission here, because I had a very annoying counter guy hounding me as I tried to decide what I wanted. "We have sandwiches too. We have cakes and pastries". Just shut up and leave me alone.

I selected a ham croquette, a cheese croquette, a ham and cheese empanada and a "meat" empanada. Just $4.28 for the lot. I have no idea what the breakdown was.

I made one short stop on the way home; I was back in less than 15 minutes.

The first thing I realized was that everything was cold; I guess if you eat in they microwave the stuff, but for take home you're on your own. I wasn't going to fire up a pot of oil to re-fry 2 croquettes; They were both quite pedestrian. You want croquettes fresh out of the oil. The breading should be just a thin coating on the stuff inside, but these were like a skin of their own.

Probably better hot, but these aren't an option for a snack on the run as I'd hoped. I wasn't going to eat the empanadas cold.

So I heated the oven to 300 degrees and baked them for 10 minutes. Always great to have to cook lunch after getting takeout.

They came out just right, but imagine my horror when I bit into the "ham and cheese" empanada to find that it was actually guava and cheese.

Yuck. Who wants fruit spread and cheese. I guess the counter guy made a mistake. Fantastic.

The "meat" empanada was spicy ground beef, as expected.

Looks like I got 1/2 an empanada. There wasn't much to the beef. This wasn't nearly as good as the same item that I got at the Miramar Bakery.

Conclusion

A very disappointing 2nd visit; I'd hoped that these bakery items would be some decent, on-the-run snack food, but it's really not. None of this would be any good coming out of a microwave, and it certainly isn't good cold.

Review 6/24/19

I passed this place and it was open, so I thought I'd grab a snack; maybe some croquettes. I entered the place and asked for a menu, but they don't have any "yet"; because they've only been planning this place for 6 months. They have a fast food type menu on the wall, but only for sandwiches and breakfast; there's no pricing for the bakery items.

I mocked the setup "Just print the prices out on paper and put them on the counter, dude". He said he'd suggested it to an owner when then were there.

Rather than ask what everything cost, I just ordered a Cuban Sandwich. If they can't do that no reason to try anything else.

While I waited I did a bit of a tour. They have come wire chairs that are not for sitting, and some snack seats up front.

The "cafe" is a long room with many fewer tables than you'd see in the cookie cutter restaurants that litter Fort Lauderdale. No tables in the middle of the room.

You can see how they value space with the outdoor configuration; nobody wants to sit elbow to elbow.

The baked good are lined up in glass display cases; they didn't have any ham and cheese croquettes; I probably would have tried the empanadas.

They have some pre-configured takeout items; all with no pricing.

And they make cakes. I'm sure Sweeter Days next door is thrilled to have some new competition in the center.

Finally my sandwich was ready (the pressing takes some time), and I bee-lined it home. I took it out of the bag to find an incompetently wrapped sandwich.

Inside it looked ok, although it was clear they didn't butter the outside of the break before pressing. It does met up the press, but it does add a layer of flavor.

I took a bite, and YES, this is how you do it. All of the flavors coming through; the ham, the pork, the mustard and the pickles.

Good bread. They use a sort of pulled pork, and the more flavorful Virginia style ham. It's not an over stuffed sandwich, and it probably could use another couple of pickles, but overall one of the better Cubans I've had in this town.

I planned on eating half but I was concerned that I couldn't revive it from the refrigerator, so I ate the whole thing and added 30 minutes to my workout. Well worth it.

Conclusion

What we have here is the opposite of most Mom and Pop expansions, where slick bean counters convince long time restauranteurs that they need to dumb down their food and squeeze as many tables as possible into the space available. They also seem to be rejecting basic ideas like menus; in the old neighborhood bakery everyone knew the price so why bother printing anything out? Other things, such as a cumbersome log in procedure to use the wi-fi and having to sign with your finger at the counter indicate a failure to understand the consumer experience.

This is one of the few places in recent memory that I've found myself wanting to go back and try something else

Comment Policy Add Comment
Al C
Reply
Clearly they messed up and you didn't order a guava cheese... but you have to be aware that is one of the most popular items sold in cuban cafes/bakeries regardless of you liking it.
Administrator
Reply
I'm not sure what relevance that has. Coffee with 9 spoons of sugar is popular too. I don't want it.
Joe
Reply
The owner’s last name is Cao, so not sure why this article says it stands for Cuban American Original.
Administrator
Reply
Because that's what it stands for, as per their announcement.
BenG
Reply
Anyword on the opening date? Saw it was suppose to open the end of May, then I read in the New Times June 3rd. But drove by the other day and nothing.
Administrator
Reply
I can't even find a license application for them, so who knows?

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