After a long hiatus, Food Critic Fridays are back. Geoff and I are back at it with our restaurant reviews, so if you’re in one of these areas and hankering for some gluten free goodness, you’ll have some idea of where or where not to eat.
I was dying to try a place called Habana in Costa Mesa. My love of Cuban food runs as deep as my love of plantains. I hadn’t found a place with truly awesome plantain dishes since our last visit to Barrio Star in Golden Hill, San Diego, so I was excited. Habana did not disappoint. Among it’s highlights were TONS of flavor, a romantic setting, very nice waitstaff, and a cool location in a hip little urban marketplace. This eatery proved to be fun, delicious, and inspiring.
Here’s the lowdown on the food/drink:
* italics are Geoff’s comments
A tad bit sweeter than a NorCal margarita (tequila.sodawater.lime). I loved it.
Mango Jalapeño Margarita
Ahi Tartar with Crispy Plantain
This was absolutely delicious. It was flavorful but not overpowering at all. I loved that you could taste the freshness of the fish and the flavor of the plantains which was bland and crunchy without being boring; A great vehicle for the tartar. Complete agreement here. Plantains can easy be too bland or too sweet – these walked the tightrope perfectly and complimented the fish well. II could have just had this and it would have been worth the trip. It’s that good.
Very dry but in a good way. I’m not a huge fan of sweet drinks. This sangria was good but not mind-blowing… I would have been more satisfied with a simple glass of Malbec.
Ropa Vieja with Black Beans, Buttered White Rice, and Fried Sweet Plantains
Shredded Beef with lots of spices. Not too salty. Rice was perfect. If all rice tasted like Habana Rice, I would eat it everyday. Even the black beans were a nice texture with the whole meal. I could quite easily OD on fried plantains. Lucky for me, they only put 3-4 pieces on my plate. So I walked out alive.
El Primo Puerco with Mashed Potatoes and Collard Greens with Bacon