Havana's Cuban Cuisine opened its doors in mid-June, facing a long hot summer in an economy that hasn't been kind to restaurants. But this 90-seat venue has been sizzling, bringing crowds to a humble strip shopping plaza in Cooper City, one of the few places in South Florida where it's tough to find Latin food. Co-owner Michael Mellion said he believed Havana's would fill a niche, and it looks like he was right.
The menu features homey Cuban classics, but if you're not in the mood for lechón asado or ropa vieja, you can order an Argentine churassco or Mexican quesadillas. And while the place has an upscale vibe, the prices won't bust your budget -- the most expensive dish is $19.95. We arrived around 7 p.m. and didn't have to wait, but the place was packed after 8. Tables being added outside should help accommodate the overflow when the weather cools.
Ambience: Long-time residents would be hard-pressed to recognize this as the former home of Fried Green Tomatoes. Mellion and co-owner Jennifer Scheer (her brother runs Barrio Latino in Aventura and a branch being built in Coral Gables) gutted and transformed the storefront. Textured ochre walls and wood furniture are offset by contemporary corrugated metal accents, granite bar counters and high ceilings. You can catch a glimpse of the game on four flat-screen TVs, but they're unobtrusive.
What Didn’t Work
Flan made from an 80-year old family recipes is one of the dessert specialities at the new Havana's Cuban Cuisine in Cooper City.