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lil mikey | Sep 28, 200405:54 PM     3

All you see from the street is a sign with an arrow pointing to the back of the building. After parking and walking around to the back, you come to the patio, and then the door to the restaurant.

It’s part of a really cool “Anti-Mall” with open floor plan stores selling clothing and shoes and hats and stuff like that.

I went for lunch, got there about 12:30 and waited for the host to seat me. After a spell, he appeared and gave me a nice table on the patio. The place was about 60% full. There’s a very easygoing vibe here. There are dozens of candles (not lit as it was midday) which look like they would make a cool atmosphere at night.

The patio itself is very pleasant, and for a nice day like today it was perfect. As a bonus, since it’s in the back of the building, you don’t get the noise from Bristol.

The menu has the usual Cuban/South Central American suspects: pressed sandwich, empanadas, crab cake sandwich and ropa vieja. The waitress said the ropa vieja was good so I ordered that.

The iced tea came out quickly, as did the entrée.

You get a ball of the ropa vieja about the size of a softball. It’s served with a mound of white rice, some black beans and plantains.

The ropa vieja was cooked perfectly. It was tender but not dry, and the stringiness was retained without getting all mushy. It was flavorful, with onions and various peppers cooked in. And the sauce/juice was very rich with a hint of sweet and a hint of spicy.

The plantains were good, too. I’ve had them at other places where they had obviously been cooked long ahead of time, and were kind of tough. These were soft and fresh and added a lot to the dish.

They were a little stingy on the beans, but for me that was okay as I wasn't totally starving and couldn't finish the rice as it was.

The lunch, including a $3 iced tea and tax was $12.05 before tip. Free parking.

Habana
2930 Bristol Street #A110 (South of Baker)
Costa Mesa
(714) 556-0176

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