Delicious, filling Cuban cuisine comes at a price that's just right at Habana Libre in West Town. Get the meal started right with Cuban coffee ($1.50) that'll spark you up. Then enjoy one of the many sandwich options.
The pan con pollo ($5.50), prepared with French bread, is a winner with thin layers of tender, marinated, tasty chicken grilled with lettuce, tomatoes and onions that added a welcoming zing of flavor. And a meal isn't complete without the fried sweet plantains ($2.95), which are slightly crispy on the outside.
Sandwiches also can come with ham, pork, steak or fish, topped with cheese, pickles and mustard. Pay a little more, and get rice and beans served on the side. The cheery restaurant, which has bright yellow and orange walls, also offers chicken and beef specialties: lemon and garlic chicken legs deep fried; chicken fajitas with a Cuban twist; shrimp fajitas; roasted pork and more. Appetizers also entice, with offerings of shrimp ceviche with onion, tomato, cilantro and avocado; fried yucca root with garlic sauce; and plantain chips with garlic sauce.
Colorful lanterns light up the room, which has peppy music with Spanish lyrics and an attractive blue-and-white tiled floor. It's easy to feel comfortable, and others apparently agree, as both hipsters and families seem to take their time as they chow down at different tables.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Mary Susan Littlepage