Soon after I returned from my trip overseas, Ariel, Joe, and I met up for dinner at Cafe Habana. Joe’s friend recommended the place and told him three things: 1. order the mojitos, 2. the corn is delicious, and 3. they don’t take reservations. Joe and Ariel were on time and for some reason I was incredibly late, so we ended up waiting quite a while for our table (sorry guys!) The wait wasn’t too bad because we were able to catch up on what the three of us have been doing since we last got together; Joe’s looking for a new job, Ariel was planning his trip to Europe, and I had just gotten back from my trip and was planning a trip to North Carolina for the weekend. When we eventually got to our table, we were starving and decided to share a bunch of different dishes. Practically every table had at least one order of corn, so we decided to get an order as well (only two come in an order but one of the guys decided they didn’t want corn):
The woman at the table next to us removed all of the cotija cheese, lime, AND chili powder (basically anything GOOD) and decided to eat the corn plain…but why order Mexican style grilled corn if you’re not even going to eat it the way they intended? I’d never had Mexican style grilled corn before my Cafe Habana experience but I always see people eating it at street fairs; the creamy cheese is really the most delicious thing to pair with corn. The chili powder makes it slightly hot, but don’t worry because it’s immediately cooled by the lime and creamy cotija cheese.
For our entrees, we ordered fish tacos (beer battered catfish, cabbage salad, spicy crema and salsa negra with rice and beans):
I’ve also never had fish tacos before Cafe Habana but these were large chunks of freshly fried catfish with a refreshing side of salsa and crunchy cabbage (for someone that eats out as much as I do, I apparently haven’t experienced a lot!) Also, I’m usually not a huge fan of black beans and rice, but these were really well seasoned and reminded me of the black bean sides I used to eat at Mad Mex, one of my all time favorite restaurants (only the one by CMU’s campus in Pittsburgh)
We also ordered the cuban sandwich (roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles on pressed Parisi’s bread with french fries):
Cafe Habana’s cuban sandwich was voted the best in NYC, but I didn’t think it was amazing because the ham and the Swiss cheese were still a little cold but the roasted pork was hot.
My favorite entree of the night was Joe’s pick – Caribbean style citrus-marinated pulled pork with rice and beans:
The citrus helped make the roasted pulled pork a lot less heavy than I expected and it was definitely the best dish of the night. The portion was also really large and it was only $10.75!
Me and Joe while we were waiting for our food:
The things I didn’t like about Cafe Habana: the bathrooms were slightly dirtier than expected and the mojitos weren’t that great (although Joe and Ariel did order two, so I think they liked them) . However, the food was really good, the service was speedy and friendly, and even though the restaurant was packed, it wasn’t so loud that I couldn’t hear Joe and Ariel the entire time.