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.