Café Habana: A taste of Cuba


Lauren Eden, Staff Writer

In case you haven’t heard, new regulations were put into effect in January regarding travel to Cuba from the U.S. Although there are still restrictions, the New York Times reported that American entry into Cuba is the easiest its been in the last 50 years. Many U.S. citizens are booking flights and planning their trips to the largest island in the Caribbean in hopes of finding adventure, beautiful sites and delicious food.

Unfortunately for college students who are “balling on a budget,” a trip to Cuba may not be on our agenda anytime soon. However, taking a trip to Café Habana could have you thinking you’re in Cuba, while keeping your funds in check.

Located in NoLita, an area in Lower Manhattan, Café Habana turns out quality Cuban food, including a Cuban sandwich that was voted the best in NYC according to most review websites. The popular eatery was featured in the film “Friends with Benefits,” when Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis were shown eating at a window table.

Boasting a menu filled with mouthwatering options, deciding on what to eat at Café Habana may be one of life’s hardest decisions. Arguably, the most popular items on the menu are the grilled Mexican corn and the Cuban sandwich. Many people recommend these items to newcomers, and they do so for a good reason. The grilled Mexican corn is covered in a mixture of mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder and a spritz of lime. The idea of putting mayonnaise on corn may seem a little unappetizing, but it harmoniously combines with the crumbly cotija cheese, which is similar to feta in taste.

An order of the corn costs $6.95 and includes two large cobs; but, it’s important to refrain yourself from filling up on the addictive dish to allow room for the Cuban sandwich.

A standard Cuban sandwich consists of roast pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. Café Habana puts a slight twist on their version by marinating the pork in citrus and replacing mustard with chipotle mayonnaise. The sandwich, which is pressed in a panini maker and accompanied with a side of French fries, costs just $10.95, and it is possibly the best $10.95 you’ll ever spend. The pork is tender, the ham and cheese are flavorful, the chipotle mayonnaise and pickles are tangy and your taste buds are happy. It is literally impossible not to be overjoyed while eating this sandwich.

In the midst of the spring semester home stretch, it’s too common for students to be under a ridiculous amount of stress. Take the time to treat yourself to an authentic meal that you don’t have to break the bank for. Café Habana’s combination of friendly service, yummy food and cool tunes could provide you with a temporary escape from the realities of finals and term papers.

Besides, food is therapy. Although that may not actually be statistically true, you’ll definitely agree with that statement after eating at Café Habana.