Cafe Habana


My friends had just come into New York from China, and after two days of 12 hour shopping, I met them at this popular little corner store down in NoLIta.  It was recommended to them by the shoppers and employees at a nearby Tory Burch store, and it looked quite promising with people lined up around the corner just waiting to get in.  We became increasingly eager to go inside.  This was a combination of the fact that it was beginning to rain harder and harder and that the two shoppers had merely eaten one hot dog so far today; that is, one hot dog between the two of them.

We eventually took over the corner of the bar, and sat down for some frozen margaritas and food.  The margaritas were not universally loved, in fact they weren’t really loved at all, but I suppose they weren’t the reason we were here anyways.  Our purpose for being here was some good Cuban food, and in pursuit of that, we started the meal off with two orders of the Grilled Corn Mexican Style.  Fantastic fantastic.  I’d never had corn of this style in the past.  I love cheese, and it was covered in it.  I love spice, and it was sprinkled with it.  The flavors blended together harmoniously in joyous revelry.  If I ever return, I will undoubtedly get this appetizer again.

For the main course, I ordered myself Camarones Al Ajillo, which is apparently shrimp in spicy garlic sauce with rice and beans.  I only chose this dish because I saw that the customer who was sitting at the bar before me ordered it, and he seemed like a frequent customer who knew what was good so I followed in his tracks.  I think I made the right decision.  The rice and beans were good, but the shrimp and the sauce they put it in really blew me away.  The rice and beans served its purpose of not overwhelming the senses, and was like an anchor to keeping my senses steady.  Perhaps it was the contrast that made the shrimp taste even better?  It’s quite possible, and I was very pleased with this dish.

My friends unfortunately came in and ordered some of the most American dishes possible, which denied me the possibility of sampling more Cuban cuisine. One went with the Grilled Steak & Corn Salad; the other got a Bacon Cheeseburger.  They both ordered their meat medium-well.  Maybe I don’t like my meat that well done, or maybe the restaurant just wasn’t so great at making these everyday dishes.  Either way, I was pretty unimpressed by it.  The salad underneath the steak was fairly palatable.  However, I was told it was far too filling, and this again reminded of the shear portion size in a typical US restaurant.

I an most assuredly very content with my order here as well as the appetizer.  I am willing to wager that if my friends had ordered better, I would’ve thought even more highly of this little joint.  Unfortunately, their meals were very unspectacular in my eyes.  But, I look forward to bringing others here to at least enjoy the Mexican style corn in the future.


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