Last month I joined my out of town visitors for dinner here. My first time, I picked Habana for the atmosphere and ambiance. As antique dealers, my friends especially enjoyed checking out the architectural detailing and momentos of old Havana. After a round of mojitos (a little too sweet for my taste), soon we were as lively and noisy as the rest of the Friday night crowd partying in the bar.
To me, the food was uneven, although my friends had no complaints. The special halibut ceviche looked beautiful when we passed by the raw bar prep area, but was on the watery side. The empanadas were average at best, and the chimichurri sauce was too simple. The guava-glazed ribs had that parboiled mushy texture that I hate. The sauce on the duck breast was tasty yet had the too soft texture of pre-cooking with finishing later that kept it from being special. The entrée I really liked though was the ropa nueva, a piquantly marinated skirt steak paired with a stringy braised ropa vieja-style beef and delicious black beans and white rice. My favorite thing of the evening was the banana custard tart caramel-glazed ripe banana slices layered on a delectable banana custard in a buttery cookie-like thin crust.
The short but well-chosen wine list features many attractively priced Spanish selections. My friends from the East Coast marveled at the prices for some of their favorites. We didn't partake this time, as I'd brought along the 1997 David Coffaro Dry Creek Estate Cuvee to celebrate their return to California. Juicy, velvety smooth resolved tannins, oodles of dark fruit and spice, and a long fanning finish.
Habana Bar & Restaurant
2080 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco Ca 94109