Mi Sueno doesn’t exactly stand out in its former Taco Bell location, but it’s worth a visit. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

Friends had told us for months if not longer that Mi Sueño near Buechel was a spot my girlfriend Cynthia and I needed to check out. We said we would, and life always had a different plan. We finally went, and now we wish we’d taken a more active approach to making our Mi Sueño trip happen sooner.

Serving Cuban fare cafeteria-style, the restaurant in a former Taco Bell on Bardstown Road not only has wonderful food but great value to boot.

Build your own meal at Mi Sueno. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

When a gentleman we presumed to be the owner found out we were first-timers, he instructed an employee to finish an order he was working on so he could tell us how ordering worked.

There’s a charcoal chicken menu that is priced separately from the main offerings. He told us each meal consisted of a choice of rice, meat and an additional side.

On this day, there were four rice choices — from white to basmati with black beans to cilantro rice — seven meats, with varying pork, beef and other options, and a handful of sides. As you would expect, choosing isn’t easy, but when he pointed out what he called Mi Sueño’s best seller, I bit.

Cynthia being a tamale fiend — “I could eat tamales every day,” she said during our meal — she ordered a pair of the traditional Mexican/Central American rolls and a side of boiled yuca (yes, you can also order a la carte). I selected the house favorite lamb shank with cilantro rice and fried plantains.

Lamb shank is a best-seller at Mi Sueno. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

As the owner began doling out our meals, we both were a bit astounded at the sheer amount of food he was dishing onto our plates. A mountain of yuca barely left space for the pair of banana-leaf wrapped tamales, and the pile of cilantro rice threatened to break the Styrofoam plate it would have to share with a large shank and eight or so thick slices of plantain.

As we checked out, he asked Cynthia if she knew not to eat the banana leaf. She said she did, indeed, know that was not an edible part of the tamale, and he said he wanted to be sure, as one customer complained “the lettuce tasted funny.” Let’s not even go there.

Cynthia’s tamales were made with real corn, and the pork inside was blended with the base, not wrapped like a burrito or enchilada. The thick, fluffy tamale also bore bits of visible corn, and the flavor was spot on.

The yuca, which was something like a boiled potato, was fresh, with a buttery flavor blending with its natural earthy, root character. Absolutely delicious, and I was tickled Cynthia was so willing to share. It was the starch of gods.

The lamb was tender, with the requisite dark-meat richness, and cooked in a stew-like broth replete with carrots,  tomatoes and other vegetables. Some parts of the meat didn’t want to strip away from the bone completely, but I found that raking a fork down the shank took most of it off, and for the rest, I went full-on Henry VIII.

Cynthia was not a fan of the sight or sound of the veins popping away from the bone as I ate, but she managed to block it out by concentrating on her tamales.

Tamales are made with real corn, and the yuca is delicious. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

The cilantro rice was topped with a layer of the stew broth, making it doubly delicious, and the plantains were fried just right and tasted great with a few dashes of El Yucateco habanero sauce.

We soon were stuffed, and had food left to give, and our dinner was around $20. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the fare and the friendly atmosphere, and it’s a shame we waited so long to go.

Me Sueño is located at 3425 Bardstown Road and is open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Breakfast is offered, as well as desserts.