I can’t help but sing the song “Havana” by Camila Cabello ft Young Thug when I was walking up to Habana (yes, I know, it’s Habana, not Havana.. but 1 letter, c’mon). My friend hit me up to eat at Habana on a Wednesday night after talks with his friend that they recommend this place. Both my friend and I haven’t had Habana since years ago when it was only at The Lab in Costa Mesa.
As we walked in, we were directed to the waiting room and soon after taken to a table. On a Wednesday night, it wasn’t very crowded as only about half of the tables are occupied. We got seated in a tucked away corner next to the exit. I do wonder why there are so many other tables available they had to give us one where we would often time be forgotten. But that’s just me.
Moving onto the atmosphere. This place is STUNNING! I mean, down to the little details. The outside patio decorations with the lights, the menu, the plates and the glasses are all beautiful additions to the restaurant. It’s a nice place to take someone on a romantic dinner date. This is one area Habana knows how to score well in, and just with that alone is every Instagrammer’s dream. Flocks of Instagrammers will soon flood the doors to have the chance of photographing the place, food, and drinks.
The whole back page of the menu is dedicated to alcohol, with their fine presentation of their cocktails to their white and red wines.
When you are browsing through Instagram, the most recognized cocktail of Habana’s would be the coconut water mixed with a white or dark rum of your choice, garnished with mint in a young coconut ($12). Easily replicated at home but what makes it unique is the use of a branding iron to stamp the Habana name onto it. Great additional detail to this cocktail as well as a good marketing tool for Habana. (8/10)
The server advertised this drink to us and mentioned that it can be for 1 person or shared between 2. I think it was more along the lines of just 1 person, but put it in a nice pineapple cup and let’s charge for the price of 2 drinks. The alcohol it contains is the Ron Zacapa 23 yr rum, Havana Club Anejo rum (similar to my coconut water one), passionfruit, orange, guava and nutmeg for the price of $22. It was very sweet and masked the taste of any alcohol. Nonetheless, it tasted good but it felt like I was simply drinking fruit punch. The presentation was nice as expected. (7/10)
At the beginning of your meal, while you get your drinks, Habana gives you complimentary chips with chimichurri and another salsa. I have to admit, the chips were very good. I could eat them all day!
In addition to the complimentary chips and dip, we ordered the Chicken Empanadas ($12). The Chicken Empanadas were the size of a small hand, pretty flaky, filled with chicken picadillo accompanied with a mango slaw and banana-habanero ketchup. The Chicken Empanadas were average, not bad but nothing to write home about. The mango slaw was different and pretty tasty. While I can commend Habana for making something unique with the banana-habanero ketchup, it did not work for me. Instead, the Chicken Empanadas were best paired with the complimentary chimichurri, so make sure you ask for more of it if you decide to get the Chicken Empanadas. (6.5/10)
The Ceviche Tropical ($16) was recommended by our server, along with the Spanish Chorizo Sofrito Steamers which we passed on. We were told that they get a new shipment of fish every day so they do not have the fishy taste. The Ceviche Tropical contains shrimp, fish, octopus, coconut broth, cucumber with mariquitas inside a coconut, of course, for the presentation. However, this dish fell short for us. In all honesty, this was probably my least favorite dish out of all the ones we ordered. It was pleasant to look at but the taste was not. (5/10)
My friend was craving a skirt steak so we had to get the El Churrasco ($30). It is an 8 oz skirt steak with chimichurri, white rice, beans, plantains, and corn on the cob on the side. The corn on the cob was accompanied with cotija cheese sprinkled on top. This was an okay dish, with a lot of different things to mask the size of the skirt steak. I wish Habana gave a bigger piece of skirt steak and took away one of the items to fill up the dish. It really took away from the main focus, the skirt steak. (6.5/10)
The first dessert we got to try was the Flan Carribean ($6). It was smooth, creamy, and light in flavor. I’ve never had a fruit flan before so this was different. A good different. I enjoyed this dessert and wouldn’t mind to have it again. (8/10)
The second dessert we got was the Banana Fritters ($6) which are crispy fried bananas with vanilla ice cream and chocolate dulce de leche drizzled on top. I love fried bananas so I did enjoy this dessert also. However, the banana fritter was a bit too hard to bite into that when I tried to eat it with the ice cream all at once, I was having difficulties. My tip is to break the banana fritter in half first and then eat it, so you don’t suffer like I did. Trust me, when you get this dessert, you’ll understand what I’m saying. (7/10)
Nothing in particular on the dinner menu makes me count down the days to go back. However, brunch does look enticing so I would go back to try that sometime. In addition, their bakery items are pretty solid so if I were ever in the area again, I would stop by to pick up a few pastries or desserts.