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 Cuban cuisine at Havana Grill.
Head chef Sergio Perez, a Havana native, pulls culinary inspiration from authentic family recipes and fresh, natural ingredients to craft Havana Grill's upscale menu of vibrant, sophisticated eats. Like a child's arms around their favorite stuffed stock portfolio, Cuban bread embraces the Sandwich Cubano's tender slices of pork, ham, and cheese, nestled under mustard-dusted dill pickles ($10.95). Cuisine artisans sculpt the vaca frita from a slowly roasted flank steak steeped in the house's citrusy mojo marinade ($16.95). Delve into a vegetarian-friendly jungle of fried sweet plantains and rice with black beans ($9.95) or infiltrate the shrimp-centric enchilado de camarones's entourage of prawns and Cuban seasoning, submerged in a tomato-rich stew ($18.95) and dreams of high-fiving Poseidon.
Scenic desert mountains dot patio diners' peripheral vision as minty mojitos refresh throats with fruit infusions of orange, mango, or pineapple ($7.50+). The eatery transforms into a bustling nightclub after dining hours, filling the air with a medley of Havana rumba, Latin beats, and Tickle Me Elmo sing-alongs. On Thursday’s cigar night, patrons can drink in spicy zephyrs amid sturdy stone walls, exposed wooden beams, and plush cheetah-print booths.
The Havana Grill
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.