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.
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.