It’s finally here: Habana has officially opened its second location. Executive chef Alex Moreno leads the kitchen in what feels more like an opulent mansion in Vedado than a restaurant in Irvine—boasting high ceilings, beautiful arches and relic-like pillars. The eatery offers a glimpse into Havana with sweet guajira tunes, seasonal Cuban cuisine and a floor-to-ceiling gold-veined mirror bar at which you can sip on a classic rum and Coke.
The drink is almost as much a bad Cuban cliché as a daiquiri, but Habana ups the game by deconstructing the ingredients. A tray is brought to you with an 8-ounce Coke, a small bucket of ice, a 2-ounce shot of Bacardi Superior and an empty tumbler so you can make your Cuba Libre to your liking. The flavors of sweet vanilla and almond will have you dreaming of Benny Moré—until the shouting of kids from the Spectrum’s giant Ferris wheel reminds you that you’re in Irvine.
Habana Irvine, 708 Spectrum Center Dr., Irvine, (949) 450-1004; www.restauranthabana.com.
Cynthia Rebolledo covers anything and everything food, culture and spirits.