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.
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.
Los Cubanos Restaurant: A User's Guide
Slow-Cooked Cuban Cuisine | Acclaimed Oxtail | Pitchers of Sangria | Brazilian Influences | Outdoor Patio
Appetizer: yucca root deep-fried until its golden and crispy
Entree: rabo encendido—oxtail slow-cooked in Spanish red wine and tomato sauce so tender that one reporter "ate it with a spoon" according to his review in Metro Silicon Valley
Drink: malta—a traditional, molasses-like drink
When to Go: Head here during lunchtime, when the restaurant buzzes with energy and popular dishes, such as the roast pork and shredded beef, are served at a discounted rate.
The Chef: Los Cubanos Restaurant is not only Alcides Calvo's 17th restaurant, but it's also the passion project that pulled him out of retirement. Calvo opened his first eatery in Cuba at the age of 17. When he immigrated to the United States in 1970, he brought his native flavors with him, opening Cuban restaurants in LA and then San Jose.
While You're Waiting
Marvel at the collection of pre-Castro Cuban currency on the wall.
Study a painting of José Martí on horseback with his sword drawn.
Inside Tip: Although meat is certainly the star at Los Cubanos Restaurant, vegetarian options do exist. The vegetarian tamale, for instance, stuffs steamed veggies and yucca into a corn shell.
While You're in the Neighborhood: After your lunch or dinner, sip a microbrewed pilsner at Los Gatos Brewing Co. (163 W. Santa Clara Street)
La Bodeguita del Medio: A User’s Guide
em>Michelin Recommended | Cuban Cuisine | Cigar Bar | Rum Flights
First course: shrimp ceviche
Second course: ropa vieja
Third course: housemade flan
Drink: a three-sample rum flight with drinks from Trinidad, Bahamas, and Guatemala
Where to Sit: Patrons who smoke cigars can do so on the outdoor patio, a space that's been lauded by Cigar Aficionado magazine. Dogs are also welcome on the patio.
While You're Waiting: * Keep a look out for a note Ernest Hemingway wrote about the La Bodeguita found in Cuba. This restaurant is a tribute to the original.
Reservations are strongly recommended for all dinner guests and parties of five or more at lunch.
Guests should notify their server of any gluten, vegetarian, or allergy dietary restrictions, as many menu items can be adjusted to fit their needs.
While children are welcome, La Bodeguita does not offer high chairs or booster seats. Instead, it has pillows that tykes can sit on to reach the table.
Every menu item can be ordered to go.
Awards and Press
Michelin recommended 2011–2014
Recommended by the New York Times and SanJose.com
Ceviche: fresh, raw fish marinated in citrus juices and various seasonings.
Ropa vieja: much more tender than its name—Spanish for "old clothes"—would suggest, this dish of shredded flank steak is cooked in a piquant tomato broth and served with black beans and rice.
In Focus: Coconuts Caribbean Restaurant & Bar
Chef’s pedigree: Robert Simpson’s culinary career began in Jamaica, and it has since taken him to Belgium and to David Burke’s Park Avenue Cafe in Chicago.
Must-try dish: jerk salmon with creole okra, sweet corn relish, and a passion-fruit-and-chili sauce
Must-try drink: a Coconut Porter on draft
Cocktail mostly likely to be prescribed by a physician: Da-Pain Killer
The vibe: tropical, with warm, yellow-washed walls and island decor
The soundtrack: Reggae, calypso, rumba, and salsa music help create a transportive experience.
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.