Although Yasbel Flores emigrated from Cuba at the age of 18, her cooking remains firmly rooted in the flavors of her native culture. Yasbel and her husband, Ron, did their best to bring the flavors of Cuba to Austin by opening Habana Restaurant and Bar in 2001, with Yasbel basing the menu on a trove of family recipes she pored through with her mother. Ron, meanwhile, spent hours honing the mixology of the eatery’s Cuba-evoking cocktails, such as the Cuban daiquiri and the mojito with a decorative island floating in it.
In the eatery’s sunlit dining room or on its patio, patrons feast on meat marinated in Cuban spices—such as the pork steak with onions, the rib eye, and the fried chicken—or vegetarian dishes brimming with plantain chunks, okra, and other tropical vegetables. Alternatively, sandwich-powered lunches include traditional pairings such as roast pork, ham, swiss cheese, and pickle sandwiched between pressed bread or plantain slices. Monday through Friday happy hours, held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., foster a joyful mood by serving discounted appetizers and beers, rather than populating the bar with laughing hyenas.
Waldo Castro was just a young boy in Peru when he began preparing street food for his family and friends, as explained by Javier A. Flores of the San Antonio Express-News. As time passed, and his passion for the culinary arts grew, he clawed the ranks of dishwasher, waiter, and line cook—often holding multiple positions at once—in pursuit of his true dream: to open his own Peruvian eatery, where guests feel like family.
Now the proud father of El Ceviche De Waldito and owner of Sabor a Mí Festival Internacional, Chef Waldo can look back on his journey to the top. In addition to training with the Iron Chef and Hell's Kitchen crew, he held eight executive chef positions at other people's restaurants before applying his passion to his own Peruvian menu. His team whips up several varieties of lime-marinated ceviche, along with traditional Peruvian aguadito with fish or chicken, homemade Cuban sandwiches, and an assortment of Puerto Rican dishes. While noshing on a Huancayo-style yucca or potato, patrons are invited to relax as if they are at home, but preferably wearing more than a robe, slippers, and backpack holding the TV remote.
La Marginal transforms workaday lunches and dinners into flavorful Puerto Rican feasts. Murals of a Caribbean coast surround diners as they get lost in bites of pork, slow roasted in its own savory juices and smuggled into dishes ranging from the traditional Cubano sandwiches?pressed between homemade bread?to el jibarito, a flakey Puerto Rican meat pie. Chefs toss juicy shrimp into their homemade sofrito, an aromatic m?lange of herbs and spices, and saut? thin cuts of round steak with a tropical white wine to create bistec encebollado a la sarten. A daily lunch buffet features a colorful spread of the menu, allowing guests to try a bit of everything.
You won?t find a microwave or can opener inside The Hot Box Diner food truck. That?s because Chef Robert makes every Mexican-inspired dish from scratch. It might be black-bean rice cooked to a fluffy finish or grilled beef and pork tucked into a signature rice bowl, then served with avocado salad and fried plantains. He also builds tacos, flautas, and quesadillas stuffed with your choice of meat, veggies, or trapped ghost.