1212 Commercial Dr, Vancouver BC V5L 3X4
I ate at Havana a long time ago and remember not loving it but every time I’m on Commercial, there’s always a line for a table and the joint seems fun and hip with some cool food options. I also heard that they make good margaritas so I had to fact-check. We headed to Havana for a late Saturday night dinner to see if my opinion would be changed this second time around.
I started with a coconut margarita (double because it was only $2 more – this sales tactics works on me every damn time). The margarita was amazing! It had a really strong coconut flavor, without being overly sweet or tasting like sunscreen lotion. I could barely taste any alcohol (which may be more of an indication of my tolerance than the drink’s potency). This was definitely one of my favourite coconut margs in the city.
For dinner, I ordered a Cuban sandwich with a side of Spanish rice. The Cuban brought me right back to actual Havana where I used to visit at least once a year, for 7 years. In Havana, there’s a hotel restaurant called Inglaterra which serves really amazing sandwiches. The thing that makes it, is the bread… which is surprising. I’ll tell you why: most places do Cubans with some stiff, hard, or crusty bread like a focaccia – which ends up feeling like a panini. Cuban sandwiches are supposed to be made with soft, white bread aka Cuban bread. Somehow this always gets overlooked and changes the dynamic of the sandwich. The remaining components (ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles) were all there. The sandwich was pressed and had a nice toasted, hard shell. I really enjoyed this sandwich and honestly, it was one of the few things I liked about Cuban cuisine. The rice was underwhelming and I’ll leave it at that.
My partner ordered the Havana Club braised short rib tacos with a side of mariquitas (plaintain chips). The two tacos were good but nothing amazing. I wasn’t a fan of the flour tortilla. They were pretty basic and something you could find at a Cactus Club or Earl’s. The portion size was good as the tacos were quite large. The side of plantain chips were the best part – they were super crispy but not overcooked or burnt, sliced thinly and came with a really nice chimi aioli. They were definitely addictive and took the place of the chips and salsa.
Overall, the food at Havana was actually quite good and the service was friendly enough. Nothing was that impressive except for the margarita and the mariquitas. I did appreciate the classic rendition of the Cuban sandwich and will go back if ever I’m craving an authentic one. I’m glad I gave Havana another try.
- Coconut Margarita, 2oz $11
- Cubano, Spanish Rice $16
- Beef Tacos, Mariquitas $16
Beats: Havana – Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug