Monday, August 3, 2009

Havana Cafe- Indianapolis, Indiana

Yuca Frita:

Fricase de Pollo:

Ropa Vieja:

(click for larger image of menu page)

We really wanted a good dining experience when we went to dinner at Havana Cafe and we really got one. In a tiny strip mall on Moller Road (just around the corner from Abyssinia and Best Buy), we felt like we walked into our favorite restaurant in Miami's Little Havana, Versailles. A really nice gentleman greeted us and asked if it was our first time there. After telling him it was, he let us choose our table and he walked us through the expansive menu. Mr. WYA! chose the Ropa Vieja and Mrs. WYA! chose one of the daily specials, Fricase de pollo. We also couldn't pass up the chance to have the yuca frita that we spotted on their menu board behind the counter. If you haven't had yuca before, it's a starchy root vegetable that tastes a lot like a potato. It was served with a delicious creamy sauce.

This is a new place and they are constantly testing new items, so they kindly brought us a couple of bowls of garbanzo bean soup. It had garbanzos, potatoes, and pork in a salty broth. We enjoyed it so much that, next time, we'll get the big bowl.

The entrees came with a basket of grilled bread at the table which was a nice touch (although we already had plenty of food).

The Ropa Vieja platter is a dish of the shredded beef in a tomato base sauce, a huge mound of Cuban rice (or you could get white rice), and sweet plantains. The finely shredded beef was insanely tender. The sauce was a flavor explosion and we appreciated having the crusty bread to dip in it so we could not waste a drop if it.

We've never had Fricase de Pollo before but we'd definitely have it again. It was chicken on the bone also in a tomato based sauce. There were a few potatoes surrounding it and they had soaked up the delicious sauce too. The rice was overflowing (and both of us had to box our rice up and bring it home) and there were 3 perfect plantain pieces on the plate.

We felt really welcome from the moment we entered Havana Cafe until we left. We got the feeling that the staff genuinely appreciated our patronage and that's a great feeling. We could not have been more pleased with our food or the entire experience. The very friendly gentleman who first greeted us said that they have more upscale plans for the future but we thought it was pretty much perfect as it was. Who needs a pretentious atmosphere when the food is this good? We can't wait to go back for a lunch to try the empanadas and Cuban coffee. We also can't wait to go there on a cold, dreary February day when we need to imagine that we're in Miami. This place takes our tastes buds back to Calle Ocho and we're so glad to have them here in Indy.

Restaurants like this are the reason we are cutting back on blogging. If you write a blog about your meals, you really feel that you can't repeat and we want to get back to Havana Cafe soon.
Havana Cafe on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Your experience at Havana Cafe mirrored mine. A great new addition to the ethnic restaurant scene. I intend to be a regular there.

Best Buy is moving to a new location near WalMart this week. I hope the loss of that anchor doesn't hurt the great restaurants in this strip mall.

Tom B.

Charles said...

Oh, go back and try new dishes and tell us about them!

Drake said...

Sounds great;I just tried Abyssinia a couple weeks ago.. Then again, I haven't lived here a year yet & am plowing through new places, I think. One question though... any vegetarian or vegan options? Aside from plantains? I hope so, as this place is near where I do my grocery shopping & therefore would be pretty close for me.

WYA! said...

Well Drake, there's a chance that the soup of the day might be vegetarian. We don't remember (and don't see in our pics) a vegetarian section of the menu but you could definitely make a meal out of the Cuban rice, plantains, yuca frita, and maybe soup.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but when I went there food I ordered was not that fresh.

Anonymous said...

I was born and raised in a Cuban family and today at at the restaurant you spoke of. Please do not compare it with Calle Ocho Cuban food. It was nowhere remotely close. The Lechon Asado was dried out and chewy. Anyone who has had Cuban Lechon Asado knows it is supposed to be very tender. The Ropa Vieja had way too much tomato sauce in it and the chili or whatever they put in it was misplaced. The plantains were the only good part of the dish and well done. The rest, truly, the owner needs to pick up a copy of Cuba Cocina and follow the recipes carefully.