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Cuba Libre on Henderson in Dallas is Closed

Tristan Simon tries to makes sense.

Seems like Cuba Libre hasn’t been open for ten years, but it has, I mean was. Once the hottest spot on Henderson, the two-story restaurant with a Latin theme closed yesterday. I caught up with the elusive owner of Consilient Restaurants, Tristan Simon, who says:

It’s true that we closed Cuba Libre in order to substantially renovate the building and concept.  Cuba Libre has enjoyed a terrific 10 year run in its present form but its DNA is now outmoded and no longer reflects Consilient’s standard and sensibility. The essential identity of Cuba Libre — a chef-driven but affordable Latin restaurant and lounge –will remain the same in the new incarnation but the menu, interior design, and overall ethos will be wholly reinvented. Our goal is to have all of this accomplished and the business reopened by summer time.

38 comments on “Cuba Libre on Henderson in Dallas is Closed

  1. WOW – I just ate there last night (leftovers still in the fridge). As long at they keep the chile-garlic chicken I’m cool.

    I hope they keep the popular dishes.

    This was the first cool restaurant I ate at when I moved here, and I returned many times. This is like an old friend going away.

  2. Sad to hear. Spent many a Friday afternoon there enjoying the frozen cuba libres!

  3. Sad. Tristan screwed up a good thing by tinkering too much. Not sure why people worship him as a restauranteur.

  4. Hmmm, its always crowded, has good food and it’s reasonably priced. Why the complete overall?

    If you read behind the smokescreen, it sounds like they are trying to capitalize on the emergence of Henderson Avenue – he wants a higher price point restaurant. We know what that means – higher prices, less quality of food, attempt to be more “cool”, and influx of more DBags!

    Don’t mess what ain’t broke! Yes, you could make a few subtle changes (like one to enhance traffic flow inside), but other than that you have something good and it works. Your net result will be a place that closes every 4 months while they “reconcept”.

  5. The problem is the seating areas are just so horribly designed. The upstairs makes no sense at all. It was built and designed to be a bar first restaurant second, and the bar scene is dead. Makes sense to focus on the food now. I assume the major changes will be to the seating layout.

  6. Had way too much fun on that patio on many occasions in the early 2000’s. Good memories, just wasn’t memorable enough to bring me back.

  7. Clark, if you are correct in this matter, which i feel you might be, i’ll be highly peeved!

  8. Clark, I wouldn’t exactly say higher prices equals less quality food… Have you eaten at Hibiscus or The Porch or Fireside Pies? Tristan knows what he’s doing. The Porch is one of my favorites! And maybe, just maybe we’ll get a product when Cuba Libre re-opens… BTW, are they going to keep the name?

  9. Thank You Tristan! If you’ve been to Cuba Libre in a while, you know what Tristan is saying. It is time (maybe a lil past time) to update the once trendsetter, now old bucket that sits on the cornerstone of Henderson.

    @ Clark – Have you been to any of Tristan’s other restaurants? Hibiscus, Porch, Fireside or Victor Tangos? The prices match each genre, the food is the highest quality in their category, there “cool” by design and the crowds that patronize are regular folks, many of whom live in the neighborhood but also plenty that travel to the area that crave a great dining experience…

    We’re looking forward to the updates!

  10. Well, better closed for renovantions than closed for good. I live on Henderson Ave, and I saw quite a crowd on their patio for a number of hours yesterday!

    I’m looking forward to seeing the changes.

  11. @Clark Kent – I concur. “Here comes another DBag magnet” is the first thing I thought of.

  12. This is my favorite restaurant! I loved how it was more affordable than the others nearby and their calamari is the greatest I’ve ever had! I rave about it constantly.
    PLEASE KEEP THE SUPER AWESOME CALAMARI TRISTAN!!
    Best salmon I ever had as well.
    Darn!! I was going to bring my family in this week.

  13. uh oh, my sister will be so upset. She was looking forward to a frozen cuba libre after this weekend…

  14. I agree with ‘forkyou’ and look forward to the updates!

    To Clark Kent: If you read Tristan’s comments again you read that it will remain a chef-driven affordable Latin restaurant.

    If you knew Tristan which you obviously do not you would know that he is not a greed driven business man. His concepts are brilliant and continue to thrive and will do so for many years to come.

  15. hmm, there goes another lunch spot from the rotation. will miss the salmon, the tortilla soup and a number of other items.

    Now when is the neighborhood services spot opening?

  16. He is just brilliant and whatever he comes up with will be a step up in style and taste.

  17. Was at Victor tango this weekend, and truly enjoyed. Fun menu and even more fun cocktails. I am still in a daze over the burrata. The ahi tuna nachos. The lamb. And the…

  18. Interesting… Always something brewing masked with B.S. On Henderson.
    First off I find the words “chef driven” quite a stretch for Cuba or any of the Consilient concepts. They had Nick B. Who did great food but obviously they screwed up somewhere or Nick would have never left. Hmmm… My thoughts are if you want all of Henderson I one place just go to Neighborhood Services.
    So how could one define “chef driven” over there.. I mean I would be hard stretched if anyone could name all the chefs in the Consilient restaurants.

    I have to say that the porch is like eating at Houstons with better looking people and atmosphere. Rip Off! Good luck we will all be waiting to see what happens.
    Perhaps they can clean up the liberal behaviors of their staff and let us know who is “their chef” who is going to drive this new concept.

  19. They have a picture of Tristan next to Sense, the club they closed more than 3 years ago. Interesting.

  20. To Leftovers….I agree with JI & Operator…TOOL.

    to JK….yeah, looks like it time for D to get a new photo of Tristan.

  21. Leftovers yes you are a tool.
    Comparing Consilient restaurants to Neighboorhood is like comparing apples to oranges. The chefs have worked all over the country and know their sh*t! All you have to do is ask and any staff they will tell you who their chef is. If you’d really like to know, do a little research for yourself before you start with your BS. Besides, Tristan has been on the block for several years. I think he knows what he’s doing. Oh and by the way the Chefs are Brent, Greg, Gareth, and Hector.

  22. looks like we are in for a revisited concept- that’s good they are making some changes.. although I don’t disagree with leftovers..

    They have done great things for the Henderson block, but agree that these are not “chef driven” restaurants. The food is always good (never great or posses the WOW factor) I agree that the porch is very close to a glorified Houstons… Hibiscus is not to far from that either..

    Good Luck Consilient we look forward to seeing your new project. Agree with above comments.. do you think you can regulate the DB’s that come…? That would be refereshing!

    Please loose the ceviche salad on the cuba menu… ketchup is not an authentic ingredient..since I grew up in the Yucatan, I think I should know…

    looking forward to some authentic food at Cuba.. hopefully we will see some redesigned street food from Latin countries..

  23. Pescado, apparenly ketchup is an authentic ingrediant in ceviche in Ecuador. Ask Bourdain — just watched him comment on it on NR last night.

  24. Pescado, Im from Nayarit and we use ketchup in our ceviche.
    Cuba had good food and a great atmosphere. Sad to see it close.

  25. Having a restaurant that’s always packed full of people must be a horrible place to find yourself, huh Tristan? I walk(ed) to Cuba and all the other restaurants there on Henderson near 75 and I never once heard of this coming. One would think there’d be some kind of hint, like say, surveying current customers as to what is good/bad? Instead let’s toss up another d-bag net so the $30,000 millionaires have yet another place to pretend to be cool.

    Between this and this morning’s fire on Greenville, I wonder where my neighborhood is heading.

  26. Hey Leftovers, really? Do you know that there is more than Neighborhood Services out there. It makes me think you work there, its more like how Veuve Cliquot is great Champagne, its just a label!!!!! You foodies out there go out and take a challenge, eat something new. This new project for Cuba is much needed and change is always good. If people played it safe all the time, this town would be so boring. Dallas needs to open their horizons a bit more, Im up for the challenge, anybody with me? And hey leftovers just stay home…

  27. Does this mean that Cuba Libre gift cards are now void? I gave a $50 gift card for xmas to a friend, but not sure if they spent it (and now I’m afraid to ask). I mailed it directly to them, so I don’t know if it is good for other restaurants.

    I hope Tristan and his company has thought about those folks too. It would seem kinda shady to shut down a restaurant for “rebranding,” not honoring giftcards, and opening up a new place with a new name.

    Not saying that Tristan is or isn’t honoring giftcards by the way. It would be nice if they updated their website with that kind of info.

  28. Actually, this is a very smart move for Tristan. Look at the eating habits of Dallasites – a new concept opens up and the place will be beyond packed in its first year. Since Tristan already paid most of the sunk costs for opening a restaurant, the added revenue as the flavor of the month will go mostly to profit.

    Props to Tristan for knowing the attitudes and spending habits of his customer base. True he may burn some longtime customers, but Cuba Libre was never a restaurant people go to on a consistent basis. Its location and food profile made it a place to eat 3 or 4 times a year.

  29. Everyone should know the real story here…they had a massive cockroach infestation. Health department told them to shut the doors, they have to renovate in order to remove the unbelievable amount of cockroaches. Don’t believe me? Ask the health department.

  30. Real Story…
    You might want to get your facts straight before you publish information that is completely not true. This is how bad rumors get started. Someone who has their head up their you know what, talking about something that they have no proof of.

  31. Real Story = Idiot last health inspection was in 01/10 and Cuba scored an 87 wich means 6 months till the next one.

    I will miss Cuba mostly for the taco and the plantain chips but innovative food and new ideas and concepts have to keep being explored.

    Tristan is not gold but has a damn fine track record. ONly one request…. PORK BELLY

  32. Seriously? Why are there even a handful of people who would say such negative things about Tristan Simon (a man they have probably never met)? Why would anyone just randomly come up with such false information as a closure due to failing health inspection??? For all of the people who were fans of Cuba, you should not be disappointed but excited that a renovation will only mean better things to come. In the meantime, check out the other Consilient concepts. The Porch, Victor Tangos, and Fireside Pies are all in the same price range and all have delicious, quality food, with friendly and knowledgable staff and almost always a mostly cool atmosphere… (I mean you can’t escape the occasional D-Bag unless you get out of the big D). For those of you who are haters, get a life. I can only imagine how much time, energy, and passion goes into each restaurant. I can also assume that the CHEF at each restaurant (because yes, each restaurant IS chef-driven) would never serve anything they could not be proud of. The company as a whole is always looking for ways to improve everything from service to cocktails to wait time to music to valet to being kid-friendly and especially to value and a memomorable experience. Cuba was long overdue for this renovation and I personally am anxious to see what will come next.