It's been years since I've visited my favorite, classic romantic Cuban restaurant at The Lab in Costa Mesa, Orange County. From the hanging candelabras to the red hues and tree speckled open-air patio, Habana whisks you away to a chapter in Casanova's book (minus the Italian).
Last weekend I was happily requainted with my old lover. I didn't make a date, just dropped in unexpectedly, and just as I expected there was an hour long wait. Do yourself a favor and make a reservation in advance, otherwise you'll be fighting (passionately) over seats at the bar (which isn't so bad, just not as sexy).
- thick crunchy ridge, warm 'n tender crumbly texture inside, Handmade Chicken or Vegetarian Empanadas with Crema Fresca & Banana-Habanero Dipping Sauce $8
- crispy fried breading, a little more dough than i hoped for, Roasted Pork Croquettas with melty Manchego Cheese and divinely lapable Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce $9
- hits all the major taste points, bitter Char-grilled Shrimp (in a good way), sour Blue Cheese, sweet Candied Walnuts, salty Red Onion & Roasted Red Peppers with Chopped Romaine, Sliced Mushrooms, and a refreshing Papaya Vinaigrette $11
- if you're gonna order one thing get this classic dish, Ropa Vieja with tender Shredded Cuban Beef Pot Roast, Peppers, Onions, Black Beans, White Rice & sweet Platanos Maduros $17
- soft 'n sweet like Hawaiian Kings Bread, Sesame Seed studded Buns with Whipped Sweet Cream Butter (complimentary)
- sadly i didn't have a chance to taste, Paella a la Habana with Marinated Chicken, Bilbao Chorizo, Green Peas, Black Tiger Shrimp, Fresh Fish, Mussels, Clams & Saffron Rice $22
Habana truly is a magical place to enjoy day or night, whether you want a classic Cuban Mojito with lunch, or a fruity Sangria Roja at dinner. (Just don't forget to save room for dessert.)
2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. 714-556-0176.