Most Americans won’t get the chance to see Cuba, but they can experience the culture and flavor with Kenn-Tico Cuban Bar & Grill’s cuisine. In a dining room decorated with panoramic shots of Havana Harbor or out on the new patio with skylights, a fountain, and 8-foot windows, plates are filled with traditional grub such as a sandwich of sliced pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on grilled cuban bread. Other classics include salmon topped with mango sauce, ropa vieja—shredded beef served up with onions, garlic, and peppers—and yucca sliced and fried until it looks like french fries back from a Caribbean vacation. Accompanying these dishes are homemade fruit milk shakes, freshly squeezed lemonade and limeade, and soft drinks such as Ironbeer and Materva. Knowing that their clients don’t always have time to stop in for their favorite dish, Kenn-Tico's chefs load up a cart with wraps and beverages to offer quick lunches downtown during the workweek.
If you walk into Havana 59 for dinner on a Thursday night, you might wonder if you wandered into the wrong place due to the festive music and abundance of dancing. But Salsa Thursdays are just one of the ways that the restaurant taps into the Havana of the 1950s, a time when Cuba was recognized as the "Paris of the Caribbean."
Inside, crumbling plaster walls, palm trees, and the aroma of cigars go a long way in transporting guests back to that lavish era. Of course, the food plays a key role, too. Chefs incorporate fresh imported seafood, natural beef, and local vegetables to a variety of authentic dishes, including a Taste of Habana platter loaded with ropa vieja, beef picadillo, and slow-roasted pork. Havana 59's bartenders also use fresh juices and mixes to craft cocktails, which include a range of flavors of mojitos.
Mambo Grill's chefs craft dishes of carne asada, burritos, red beans, and rice from scratch daily using fresh meats and veggies, punching them up with authentic imported seasonings and, when necessary, a burly gentlemen named Bugsy. They eschew the traditional spiciness of Mexican food for the full-bodied zest of Central American and Caribbean cuisine, ensuring each dish's taste and color is faithful to that of its country of origin.