Cuban herbs and citrus juices marinate slow-roasted pork, one of the many traditional Cuban dishes found on the menu at Habana Cuba. The cooks also fry omelets filled with plantains or potatoes, stuff avocados with marinated shrimp, and craft gluten-free items such as rib eye topped with onions. Bartenders complement meals with specialty cocktails, beers from all over the world, and imported coconut sodas made from the liquid that coconuts naturally excrete when placed next to a shipwreck survivor. Feasts unfold on Habana Cuba’s dog-friendly outdoor patio or within its two-level restaurant, which hosts private sit-down dinners for up to 70 guests.
Bite into a traditional Cuban sandwich from Cha Cha CHA Cuba for international flavor right at home.
Toast your evening out at this restaurant with a glass of beer or wine from their lengthy drink list.
If you're in need of a booster seat, this restaurant's got you covered. This is a great spot for the whole family.
At this restaurant, you can work your arms a little. Pick up the food yourself and carry it out.
Patrons are provided with sufficient parking nearby.
Cha Cha CHA Cuba's diners can store their bikes safely at the rack around the corner.
Expect your bill at Cha Cha CHA Cuba to come in at around $30 per person.
For delicious fare with a Cuban twist, make your way over to Cha Cha CHA Cuba.
There's no tropical kitsch to be found in Habanas Cuban Cuisine's lovely, loungey corner space, but as Alameda magazine wrote, it's still "the closest you’ll get to Cuba in Alameda for sure." That's due to a friendly, laid-back atmosphere and a menu of tapas and entrees that ranges from simple standards such as twice-fried plantains with pineapple salsa to a sugarcane-glazed pork chop with rum chutney. You'll find the classic Cuban sandwich (ham, roast pork, swiss) at lunch, and there's even a brunch menu with inventive dishes such as a Cuban-style french toast with bread dipped in Cointreau, cream, and cinnamon. Fifteen equally creative mojitos are available by the glass or pitcher.
Casa Cubana derives in part from its co-owner's 50 trips to the island nation over the last 20 years. Sam DuVall and Joe Kohn, who also own the decades-old favorite Izzy's Steaks & Chops together, envisioned fresh, California-inspired Cuban food made using traditional methods. And what they and their chef, Enemias Jimenez, came up with is a quality take on the cuisine—plus some clearly denoted vegan and gluten-free dishes you might not find on many Cuban menus.
To eat: The Mercury News recommended the croquettas traditional, featuring applewood-smoked ham, and the camarones y ajillo, or plump prawns and mussels in a coconut-chili sauce. The Easy Bay Express liked the skillet-fried pollo frito and the banana bread pudding.
To drink: Rum, of course! The premier cocktails are the mojito and the Havana sidecar, and there are more than 40 different rums to choose from.
To look at: The walls are adorned with colorful pieces from DuVall's Cuban art collection, one of the largest of such private holdings in the US.
Havana: A User’s Guide
California-Cuban Cuisine | Specialty Mojitos | Tapas
Tapas: twice-fried plantains with pineapple salsa, and grilled shrimp with cilantro-lime sauce
Soup: chicken tortilla with queso fresco and avocado
Entree: plantain-crusted pacific cod with tomatillo-avocado salsa, cuban corn, and sofrito rice
Mojito: Cruzan rum, watermelon puree, mint, sugar, lime juice, and a splash of soda
Where to Sit: For a private event of up to 45 guests, reserve “Little Havana,” the private dining room, which is available for lunch or dinner parties.
When to Go: Mondays for half-priced mojitos by the glass or pitcher.
Havana also caters events that can range from 6 guests to more than 300.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Wander through 3,500 square feet of work by historic, modern, and contemporary artists at Bedford Gallery at the Lesher Center for the Arts (1601 Civic Drive)
After: Island hop from Cuba to Hawaii by heading to Tiki Tom’s (1535 Olympic Boulevard) for a tropical-style nightcap.
Five Things to Know About Cha Cha Cha
When coming up with a concept for their restaurant, the founders of Cha Cha Cha—one born in Puerto Rico, the other a Cuban resident for 20 years—met in the middle. They blended the cuisines from their homelands into one eclectic spread and opened the first Cha Cha Cha in upper Haight in 1986. Today, Cha Cha Cha continues to dish out Latin and Caribbean tapas at that original location, as well as at an additional spot on Mission Street. Read on to learn more about these popular and festive eateries:
The Mission St. location has a lot of history. Originally, this building was an Irish dive bar established before Prohibition. Wanting to respect that, Cha Cha Cha decided to adopt the “Original McCarthy” as part of its name.
Tapas anchor the menu. The lineup of these small, sharable plates includes the popular cajun shrimp sauteed in a spicy cream sauce and fried patanos maduros, as well as tropical sweet bananas with black beans and sour cream.
Raciones are essentially entrees. Unlike tapas, these larger dishes are usually ordered all at once and make up an entire meal experience. Cha Cha Cha’s line up raciones include the fan-favorite jerk chicken, which features marinated chicken thighs baked with habanero peppers, raisins, garlic, and tomatoes.
Reservations aren’t accepted at the Haight location. That being said,, a member of your group can come and put the group’s name on the waiting list. Otherwise, everyone can just hang out by the bar until a table is ready. Inside tip: you can also dine at the bar, just be sure to mention it to the bartender.
It’s a good idea to save room for drinks. The sangria and mojitos are must-haves.