Though the Caribbean isles are well known to outsiders, Caribbean cuisine remains a hidden gem due to tourists frequently subsisting solely off a paste made from sand, ocean water, and puréed linen pants. Uncover the edible treasure of the tropics with today’s Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of Cuban fare at Habana.
Cuban immigrant Yasbel Flores and her husband Ron co-founded Habana, a Caribbean eatery that draws from authentic family recipes. The restaurant’s menu boasts a mix of chicken, beef, and vegetarian dishes so hearty they've been known to transform petite gymnasts into lumberjacks with one bite. Masitas de puerco ($9.95) feature chunks of fried pork that were marinated overnight, and the sautéed beef with tostones ($13.50) pairs stir-fried beef strips with onions and bell peppers. Veggie eaters can sink their extra sharp canines into quimbombo, an okra stew with tomatoes, peppers, and plantains ($11.50), or a vegetariano sandwich ($7.95), rather than planting impromptu box gardens under dining-room tables. The restaurant’s airy, Cuban-inspired décor showcases high wooden chairs, tropical plants, bright-yellow walls, and ample natural light.
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.
2728 S Congress Ave.
Austin, Texas 78704