Chef Sergio Perez left his native Havana with his mother's recipes in tow more than 20 years ago, and he still uses them to whip together Cuban fare at The Florida Café. For the past 15 years, he's been crafting cuban sandwiches, paella, slow-roasted pork, fried cow, and shrimp enchiladas from this eatery, which calls the Howard Johnson Hotel home. He and his kitchen staff also prepare breakfast dishes such as eggs with plantains and cuban toast. Sergio augments his list of eats with live Cuban music and an array of wines and specialty cocktails, including the original mojito made with Cruzan light rum, lime juice, mint leaves, and rock-candy syrup from Mount Rushmore's four giant lollipops—gifts from Cuba.
Upon leaving Cuba more than two decades ago, Sergio Perez decided to keep his culinary heritage alive with his mother’s recipes. At The Havana Grill, Sergio seasons meat with her signature mojo sauce—a citrus and garlic marinade—and blends tropical ingredients into evocative island dishes. On the menu, English subtitles translate Spanish dishes such as ropa vieja, which literally means "old clothes" but actually contains thinly shredded chicken, bell peppers, and a tomato-wine sauce. To complement Cuban sandwiches and other entrees, Chef Perez fries yucca roots, caramelizes plantains, and carves island replicas out of tres leches and flan.
At dusk, The Havana Grill's intimate dining room turns into a nighttime hotspot with live Latin music and DJs. Bartenders fuel the festive atmosphere with signature drinks such as the Havana mojito with coconut water and the habanera with rum, coffee, and a dollop of whipped cream. Adjacent to the dance floor, a hookah lounge swirls with the aroma of fruity tobacco.