Cuba's engineers have been able to focus their attention squarely on culinary conundrums since they finished building the Caribbean Sea as the world's largest moat. Sample their modern marvels with today's Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of Cuban cuisine at Havana Cafe, located on E. Tremont Avenue.
With a menu designed by Latino-cuisine wizard Alex Garcia, Havana Cafe dishes splendid classic and nouvelle Cuban entrees worthy of the restaurant's elegant yet festive setting. Havana Cafe's classy clientele dines in a softly lit dining room, treating taste buds to traditional favorites including the slow-cooked shredded beef of the Ropa Vieja ($12 lunch, $15 dinner). Pro-protein activists can support the carnivorous carnival known as Boliche, a succulent pork tenderloin stuffed with tasty chorizo ($15 dinner). The perennially popular Cubano sandwich ($9) keeps mouths ocupado, and more contemporary twists, such as the Jamon Pizza Cubana ($9), please those looking for something new.
Thirsty guests can settle in at the bar to try one of the café's delightful cocktails. Mirth and merrymaking goes on in the large red booths lining the walls, and tucked-away tables create an intimate atmosphere befitting a romantic rendezvous or a farcical faux-romantic rendezvous between two sassy business rivals with amnesia.
Seven Yelpers give Havana Cafe an average of 4.5 stars:
- I had a tilapia fish w garbanzo beans and chorizo, to DIE for. The dish was perfect and the fish was cooked to perfection (which is a hard concept for chefs sometimes). – Jahayra M., 2/14/11
- The beef empanadas were amazing. Everyone ordered different things and everyone loved their dishes. – Lisa R., 2/5/11
On a Bronx street lined with Italian restaurants, one façade stands out—the one with a streetside bar under a shady awning, and a dense gathering of exotic plants and excited diners. This façade 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.