With its ever-changing coordinates and conspicuous absence from the Beach Boys' "Kokomo," Cuba is one of the more difficult to locate Caribbean nations. Dig into this enigma with a fork, knife, and today's Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of authentic Cuban cuisine at Habana Restaurant on Congress Avenue.
Ron and Yasbel Flores of Habana treat tongues to a taste of Cuba with an extensive menu of the festive island’s traditional dishes. End a hunger strike with a helping of the pollo frito, a half chicken marinated in traditional Cuban spices and deep fried to palatable perfection ($11.75). The filetillo salteado, a succulent serving of sautéed beef strips marinated in savory Cuban spices, onions, and bell peppers, will satiate salivating bovine buffs ($13.50), and the quimbombo will mollify ravenous herbivores with an okra stew featuring an elaborate aquatic dance by tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, garlic, and ripened plantains ($11.50). The decorative palette of pastel blue-and-yellow hues lend the eatery an easygoing and fun vibe, ideal for family nights out or sock-puppet reenactments of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.
- Great and wonderfully traditional Cuban food! The ropa de vieja sandwich was amazing, and the flan was the best I've had since coming to Austin eight years ago. – Leticia H., Urbanspoon
- I think this may be one of my favorite places in Austin. It has nice outdoor seating, the vibe is totally casual, I don't have to worry about parking and the service is always super-friendly and informative. – Stephanie S., Yelp, 12/26/10
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.