In 2002, entrepreneur Jeremy Merrin teamed with fellow restaurant mogul Arlene Spiegel and head chef Stanley Licairac to establish Havana Central, a family-friendly enterprise based on lively Latin music and the rich flavors of Cuban cuisine. The food of Cuba draws from disparate influences across the globe⎯Spanish, French, African, Chinese, and indigenous cultures⎯manifesting into tender skirt-steak ropa vieja, empanadas stuffed with savory meats and goat cheese, and salmon, chicken, and shrimp marinated in tangy citrus juices.
Though the restaurant's leafy palms and tropical cocktails hint at the freewheeling good times of 1950s Havana, the staff pairs their joie de vivre with social responsibility, specifically by donating to local charities and taking on numerous green initiatives. As guests sip mojitos and sangria and sup upon slow-roasted meats and chicken sofrito, a lineup of live entertainment keeps feet moving in rhythm. Interactive events include salsa-dance lessons, charanga bands, and reenactments of the charge up San Juan Hill.
On a Bronx street lined with Italian restaurants, one fa?ade stands out?the one with a streetside bar under a shady awning, and a dense gathering of exotic plants and excited diners. This fa?ade belongs to Havana Cafe, which the 2013 and 2014 Michelin Guide honored with a Bib Gourmand award recognizing the inspectors? favorites for good value. PIX-11 confirmed the restaurant's status as a neighborhood staple during a 2011 Bronx Restaurant Week profile, noting that it?s ?become famous fast for serving great food in a welcoming atmosphere.?
Smells of Cuban and Latin-American cooking spill out from an intimate dining room, and, in the kitchen, a custom brick oven burns through shovelfuls of bricks under the direction of Chef Alex Garcia. Chef Alex designs modern interpretations of classic dishes, resulting in cultural collisions such as brick-oven pizza topped with beef picadillo and piquillo peppers. Straightforward renditions of Latin flavors abound as well, in the form of adobo-rubbed shrimp, churrasco-style grilled steaks, and sides and sauces made with tropical produce such as plantains, mango, and yuca.
When cool weather forces the french doors closed, groups snuggle up with their mojitos in leather-cushioned chairs beneath brick pillars and exposed rafters. Behind plush red banquettes, murals commemorate a hazy Cuban past lined with shiny classic cars and balconies leaning convivially over narrow city streets.
Fresh vegetables, meats, and Latin spices help capture the home-cooked flavors of authentic Latin cuisine at Caridad Restaurant. A bilingual staff pairs traditional entrees such as roasted chicken and oxtail stew with Latin ingredients such as ripe avocados and flan freshly sapped from a tropical custard tree.
Catch a taste of the Caribbean at Cabana.
Put the diet on pause when you visit Cabana — there are no low-fat menu items.
The bar at Cabana is fully stocked, so pair your meal with a glass of wine or beer.
Tots and tykes will be right at home at Cabana with its kid-approved food and ambience.
With plenty of room to go around, Cabana also offers a private area perfect for large groups.
Enjoy the cool summer breezes on Cabana's seasonally available outdoor seating.
Those with sensitive ears may want to stay away from this restaurant, though, as it can get quite loud.
Whether it's just you and a date or you're bringing the whole gang, it's best to call ahead and make a reservation.
If time is of the essence, Cabana's take-out option may be a better fit.
Looking for something delicious to serve at your next party? Cabana also offers catering.
Parking is plentiful — the restaurant provides valet in the nearby lot, where regular parking is also available. Drivers can take advantage of alternate street parking when the lot is packed.
The menu at Cabana is reasonably priced, with most items costing less than $30.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served at the restaurant, but the dinner menu is the real standout.
Bite into a traditional Cuban sandwich from Havana Central Ridge Hill for international flavor right at home.
Put the diet on pause when you visit Havana Central Ridge Hill — there are no low-fat menu items.
Pair your entree with a glass of wine or draft beer — Havana Central Ridge Hill has a fully-stocked bar to complement your meal.
Both the young and the young-at-heart will dig the family-oriented menu and ambience at Havana Central Ridge Hill.
Take your meal to the next level on the patio at Havana Central Ridge Hill.
Diners who appreciate a no-frills environment come to Havana Central Ridge Hill in jeans and a hoodie.
If you need to get somewhere fast, the restaurant also serves up grub to go.
The menu at Havana Central Ridge Hill is reasonably priced, with most items costing less than $30.
Madera keeps things authentically Cuban, from the menu to the vases of fresh flowers to the classic American cars that the waiters drive from table to table. Open diplomatic relations with an appetizer of grilled sugarcane-skewered shrimp with rum glaze ($11) before moving on to a straight-outta-Havana sandwich Cubano (roasted pork, smoked ham, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, $10). Heavier appetites can savor the steakhouse offerings with a Madera-style steak, char-grilled to perfection in the Madera manner ($27), or a chimichurri-laden skirt steak ($20) paired with a side of yucca fries with garlic mojo ($5). Vegetarians can take their own skinny-dip in the Caribbean with a Creole salad—avocado, tomatoes, and red onions seasoned with light spice ($9).