Calle Ocho may get more attention but the beach has a small local chain called Havana 1957 serving up traditional Cuban fare with vintage memorabilia and photos.
The space evokes the glamour of Havana in the ‘50s heyday of the pre-revolutionary island, when cabaret shows at the Tropicana drew an international jet set. The newest one opened last December on Ocean Drive in the Breakwater Hotel and has seating on the sidewalk for people watching to a blasting Latin beat. Inside it is loud but there’s a quiet al fresco patio in back surrounded by palm trees.
At 9 p.m. the music stops to play sound effects of a cannon going off, a tribute to the tradition called “El Cañonazo de las 9” at Fort Charles in Havana. Here locals and tourists can spend un día en la Habana or a day in Havana complete with a house made cigar.
Start With These Dishes
Order the shrimp cocktail with crustaceans rimming a large glass set in ice with pink sauce and a dab of tiny red caviar.
Toston con tasajo are fried yuca cups filled with sour orange infused salt-dried beef in criollo tomato sauce. Or get green plantain shells stuffed with four fillings: garlic shrimp, roasted shredded chicken, ropa vieja (shredded beef) and seasoned ground beef.
Try a salad from the new green menu. Pick the quinoa with black beans, avocado, mango and red peppers tossed in lemon-oregano vinaigrette or agaucate with cucumber, radish, chayote, orange slices and sunflower seeds in avocado dressing.
Share These Dishes
The Cuban combo starter serves two. You get ham croquetas, bite size fried pork chunks, plantain chips, fried yuca, crispy potato balls stuffed with beef and a pork tamale. The house specialty is family-style roasted chicken in Cuban gravy made from chicken juices with sour orange. It comes with rice, black beans and maduros (sweet plantains).
Overstuffed sandwiches are big enough to split. Naturally there’s a Cubano or go with the media noche (“midnight”) on soft egg bread with ham, Swiss, roasted pork, pickles and mustard. Picadillo brings stewed ground beef in criolla sauce with raisins.
Smoked pork chops are topped with onions and mojo sauce. Churrasco a la Cubana is grilled with tender certified Angus flank. For seafood try the enchilado de mariscos, a stew with half a Florida lobster tail and shrimp in tomato sauce with peppers, onions, garlic and cumin served with rice, sweet plantains and salad. Be sure and get a grapefruit mojito with a sugarcane swizzle stick or a daiquiri with lime, triple sec and rum.
Save Room For Dessert
You can’t go wrong with the classic Cuban flan with sweet coconut shreds and whipped cream, but guava cheesecake tempts too.
Havana 1957 Cuban Cuisine
Address: 940 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach in the Breakwater Hotel
Contact: 305-532-1939, havana1957.com
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9 a.m.-midnight, Friday and Saturday 9 a.m.-1 a.m.
Prices: Breakfast $8-$15, appetizers $6-20, sandwiches $11-$15, mains $15-$33, desserts $7-$8
F.Y.I. Other locations are at 405 Espanola Way, 1410 Ocean Drive and 819 Lincoln Road all on Miami Beach, live music on weekend nights