Just a couple blocks from campus, a Cuban restaurant, Habana Cuba, has found a new home in the SoFA Market with a counter setting to sit and watch chefs cook popular Cuban dishes.
While watching the chefs cook, you can also admire the display of sodas domestically imported from Miami.
If you’re unsure about what to order, you can check out the menu board, where entrees and specials are listed in colorful chalk.
Habana Cuba presents itself as a well-oiled machine of hard working chefs and food prep workers that prove their speed with short wait times for dishes.
Originally located on Race Street, Habana Cuba’s home for 16 years closed its doors to relocate and downsize to the SoFA Market.
The Race Street location closed on March 24.
Habana Cuba opened its counter location on April 12, bringing along its usual customers from the Rose Garden/The Alameda location.
Its popular dish, the Lechon a la Cubana, is also a traditional Cuban dish.
It comes with white rice, black beans and plantains.
Personally being someone who is not fond of bananas or anything resembling bananas, I ate the plantains on my plate with delight.
The pork is prepared in a slow roast marinade with Cuban herbs and citrus juices.
When you receive your dish, the pork is swimming in these juices and the container separates the pork from the sides, keeping the pork warm and simmering.
The Sandwich Cubano, a twist on a plain ham and cheese, also includes roasted pork, mustard and pickles grilled and pressed together.
Served on Cuban bread to soak up the juices from the meats, this sandwich comes with sweet plantains on the side to make it a utensil-free dish.
The combination of meats are perfect when balancing out the salty taste of the pickles.
The Sandwich Cubano is perfect for any one who wants to spice up their usual lunchtime routine and do something different from the Subway sandwich lunch they can grab on campus.
The Oxtail is an exotic dish that includes the meat still on the bone.
Along with the bone, the oxtail is braised in a garlic, tomato base with a hint of red wine and pepper.
When digging in, the meat practically falls off the bone.
You can tell that the oxtail has been cooking for hours that day, which results in leaving you with a warm slightly spicy taste on your tongue.
The drinks they serve include fresh blackberry juice and Iron Beer, originally from Cuba but is bottled in Miami.
The blackberry juice is free from seeds, leaving a sweet aftertaste.
The Iron Beer tastes familiar, almost like Miami’s version of a sweeter Dr. Pepper.
The menu also includes side substitutes such as moros, gandules, tostones and yuca frita.
For anyone with a sensitive diet, Habana Cuba offers vegetarian and gluten-free dishes while keeping the menu simple with traditional Cuban cuisine.
With all of the dishes, appetizers and drinks being less than $20, college students can stop by in between classes for a quick bite or a place for a dinner date and still have enough in your budget to help pay for next semester’s textbooks.