Written by: Katrina Vargas Vila
Right now, I’m writing LIVE as I’m sipping a mojito in what’s probably one of the best restaurant grand opening's I’ve ever been to. The drinks are flowing, the music is loud, and the people are happy. As I look around the room I see friends hugging, smiling, and dancing. I even make my own new friends (a couple visiting from Austria) at the bar and tell them all about what makes Miami so awesome. Outside, all the guys are smoking cigars. Where am I? I’m at the new Havana 1957 on Ocean Drive and I feel right at home.
As a fellow Cuban myself, I loved that the restaurant is decorated with everything Cuba. It’s fun to imagine what it would have been like in an actual restaurant in Cuba many, many years ago. I see old fashion sewing machines, Cuban flags and old photos.
My hubby and I take a seat near the kitchen where smells of bistec empanizado and vaca frita have filled the air. As I’m dancing in my chair over my own bistec empanizado, arroz, frijoles negros, and tostones that I will not share, I may have convinced my ½ Venezuelan, ¼ Brazilian, and ¼ Cuban Hubby that the liveliest part of his heritage is the one that we share.
I get a glimpse into the kitchen and I see something I’ve never, ever seen before. I see a very happy chef. She’s dancing and clapping and motivating her team to get moving. Everyone in that kitchen is with her, they support her, and what’s more – they love her. They are dancing while they cook up really delicious things in that kitchen.
Our dinner was fresh and flavorful. My breaded steak was crispy (which is SUPER important) and my husband ordered the vaca frita which he really enjoyed. This isn’t a place you come to for fancy food. That’s not what Cuban food really is. It’s the place you come to for a good, authentic meal, just like Abuela would prepare for you. Plus they have many options under 500 calories, which is something your Cuban grandma won’t be interested in doing.
Cubans know how to party. They also know great food. Visit Havana 1957 on Ocean Drive and see for yourself. Gotta go – gotta get back to my mojito!