Havana Harry’s

For my birthday dinner we all went to Havana Harry’s, a Cuban restaurant near our home in South Miami. I miss Cuban food terribly while in Seattle as there are no Cuban restaurants, so whenever I come home I try and make up for lost time. Now, there are many great Cuban restaurants in Miami, ranging from cheap as chips to sell a kidney expensive and I am proud to say that I have tried a great many of them. My favorite, hands down, is Havana Harry’s. It is a moderatly priced restaurant in what used to be the old Tony Romas building, in a non glamorous part of South Miami; but for me, it is a portal to Cuban heaven!

Mariquitas con mojo. My dad used to get these everytime we went to dinner at a restaurant called Lila’s as children so they have a nostalgic factor for me and had to be ordered. Sadly, Lila’s is gone but thankfully, Havana Harry’s makes mariquitas that are just as awesome! For the Cuban food rookie this dish consists of thinly sliced plantains, deep fried and served with a mojo, or lime and garlic sauce. Absolutely divine!!

Vaca Frita Sampler. This is my favorite dish in the restaurant. It is three different kinds of Vaca Frita; beef, chicken and pork. Tom also loves this and usually eats half of my plate regardless of whether or not we are sharing it. This time, when I ordered it, Tom asked “What does Vaca Frita mean?” I replied with “Fried cow.” Which got the most hilarious look from him followed by the most obvious question, “Why do they call it fried cow of chicken if it doesn’t have cow?” The truth is that Vaca Frita, while meaning fried cow, is more of a proper noun than a descriptive name. This one is my favorite in Miami at the moment, if you don’t count my mom’s! The onions are fried till they are soft and slightly sweet but not caramalized and the lime and garlic is not too over powering. The flavors are perfectly balanced and the shredded meat is crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.

Morros con Cristianos y platanos maduros. Literal translation – Moores and Christians and ripe plantains. The Moors and Christians refers to the black beans and the white rice that are fried, together with pork fat to make one amazing dish!! The plantains were your average plantains but the Morros con Christians were the real stand out. This dish can often be too dry or too wet, getting it right is really hard and they get it right here! Only complaint I have is that I wish there were more pork in it.

Bistec Empanizado. A very thin beef steak pounded wafer thin, breaded and pan fried. I usually hate this dish at restaurants and only eat it at home, mainly because the breading is improperly applied and separates from the steak leaving the whole mess a dry leathery steak with greasy breadcrumbs. Here, however, it is a tender, well seasoned, skillfully coated and fried piece of meat. The coating sticks beautifully to the steak and the whole thing is tender and moist, even eaten out of the fridge the next morning.

Chicken with mushrooms and cheese. This was my least favorite dish. It was good, but there was entirely too much cheese, making it too heavy for my taste. However, if you are the kind of person who is into mushroom bacon cheeseburgers you will love this dish!

Churrasco Salad. This salad was completely unexpected. The blue cheese was a not so traditional addition but it worked and the churrasco was very well seasoned and well cooked. In a city of super models it’s important to have a great salad and they nailed it with this one!

Guava Cheesecake. I will start by saying that this was delicious. Guava and cheesecake go together very well. I will also add that this picture shows HALF of the serving they brought us. It is almost double what you would get at the cheesecake factory. Portions here are huge overall but this was just a bit rediculous! Order this one for a family of 4 and you might, maybe, be able to finish it.

The world famous Quatro Leches cake.  Ok, maybe not world famous, but at least famous in our family. By the time I managed to get the camera out and fight the spoons away so I could take a picture the vultures had eaten almost all of it, but you get the idea.Quatro leches is a sponge cake that is soaked with a mixture of Sweetned condensed, evaporated and whole milk and allowed to soak for 24-48 hours. Then, it is topped with dulce de leche or milk caramel. Hence, 4 milks. This one is bested only by my mothers and mine.

Flan. This was everyones favorite. It was dense yet creamy and sweet yet slightly bitter and salty. All the things you want in a perfect flan. It was shocking really because we had never ordered this dessert, always going with the Quatro Leches instead. Big mistake! As amazing as the Quatro Leches was, we were all fighting over the last few pieces of the Flan and I barely managed to get the picture taken.  The most perfect end to a highly anticipated meal!

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