When Havana 1 opened where a short-lived Greek restaurant once was, I thought “Just what we need, yet another Cuban restaurant. Can this island really handle more ropa vieja?” So it has taken me quite a while to get around to trying it.
We finally go there for lunch over the weekend. Inside looks remarkably like a diner, with some Cuban art on the wall. As the air did not seem to be working, we opted to sit outside where there was at least a breeze. We were greeted and offered beverages. With fresh brewed iced teas in hand, we started looking at the menu.
Havana 1 has all the Cuban standards: arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), ropa vieja and vaca frita(meat that has been stewed and
shredded, and in the second version, fried) and a number of other favorites. Also on the menu were quesadillas and a burrito. Before any food arrived, our server brought over two homemade hot sauces and some bread. Both hot sauces were truly delicious and I had high hopes for the meal.
I opted for the grouper special which was topped with sauteed onions and came with plantains, and yellow rice and black beans. It came out looking beautiful, though on closer examination it seemed to be raw. So I sent it back. The second time it came out, it was still raw. I am not sure why we had to go through this so many times, but back it went again. The third time was a charm. Not only was the fish cooked through, it was not overcooked. It was a miracle. It also happened to be quite tasty. The accompanying plantains and rice
and beans were also very good. The arroz con pollo was a big portion of flavorful rice, tender chicken and peas.
In the end, the food was quite good, despite the many tries it took to get it right. Would I go back? Maybe. The food was good, but I am not in any rush, as there is no shortage of good food on this island. Havana 1 is located at 1101 Truman Avenue, at the corner of Havana Lane.