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The owner of new restaurant Cohiba Cuban Cuisine may be from Mexico, but she is infatuated with Cuban food, culture and people.
Elida Soria, has rounded up a staff of Cuban friends ? including a Cuban chef.
The Mexico native moved to Chicago after visiting her brother here in 1998.
A 2010 visit to Cuba cemented her long-standing crush ? she fell in love with Cuban food, culture and the friends who introduced her to it.
''For everything, they make it a party,'' she said. ''They dance all the time. They love music. They're just always happy. It's about the culture.''
Cohiba Cuban Cuisine aims to have the kind of warm, family atmosphere that she's experienced at parties with her friends. Her Cuban friends are ''just family people,'' Soria said.
Her Mexican family thinks she's ''crazy'' for being so in love with Cuban culture, she said with a laugh. At the restaurant, she's the only non-Cuban.
She just loves dishes like the churrasco, a skirt steak marinated in garlic and fresh herbs, and the rollito de camaron, shrimp stuffed with cheese and bacon.
''It's gorgeous,'' she said. ''The rollito de camaron, it's unbelievable.''