We live in an exciting time. For one thing, Austinites can now jump on a flight to Havana, Cuba any time of the year. What better way to prepare your taste buds than to try authentic dishes from the best Cuban restaurants here in Austin?
For a moment, imagine yourself on this beautiful island, located between the Caribbean Sea, Mexican Gulf and Atlantic Ocean. 1950’s-era cars are rolling past the rows of pastel-colored houses and salsa music can be heard from every corner. No, I haven’t been, but this is what my imagination creates when I think of the essence of Cuba. Until that adventure happens, we’re all lucky enough to have “day trip” options when it comes to Cuban cuisine in Austin!
CUBA512, previously know as “Guantanamera,” is a gem of a restaurant. It’s been around for nearly two years and has incredible recipes for authentic Cuban dishes, as well as innovative creations. The Cuban owner, Iskander Gener, and his team added a few new items to the menu, such as the tostones rellenos (four green plantain cups filled with cheese and your choice of meat or veggie). Plantains are celebrated here, as well as the house specialty drinks, like Hemingway’s a Las Rocas with rum, fresh-squeezed lime juice and cane sugar.
If you like delicious empanadas, Cuban music and chill vibes, this is the place for you. Check the website for upcoming events.
6800 West Gate Blvd. – Website
2/ Tropicana Cuban Restaurant
Tropicana Cuban Restaurant specializes in bakery and catering services, and offers full-service dining. The name is a tribute to the historic Tropicana Club in Havana, Cuba. The first thing you might notice is the glass dessert case, unapologetically tempting you with various baked goods.
Try the burger called El Cubanito, which has been named one of the best in Austin. Using a Cuban twist, this creation includes a beef patty, ham, bacon, Swiss and American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, mayo, mustard and a special house sauce. Definitely worth trying!
9616 N. Lamar Blvd. – Website
After 15 years in Austin, Habana has cemented itself as one of the greats. My fellow Austinot blogger, Jessica Pino, warmly wrote about the restaurant’s history and roots in the article, “Habana Celebrates 15 Years of Cuban Cuisine in Austin.”
The staff truly wants you to enjoy yourself as if you were family, and it shows in the quality of the dishes. Give me some of their yuca frita (yucca fries) with mojo sauce and a Cuban martini, and I’m one happy lady. There’s a reason this restaurant has remained a favorite for so many years.
2728 S. Congress Ave. – Website
4/ Cuba Sandwich Cafe
You may have picked up on a common theme: pork. It’s used in many Cuban dishes, but none more famous than the classic Cuban sandwich which includes ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. It’s simple, but wildly tasty. Cuba Sandwich Cafe serves up many of these daily. The bread is flaky, and the meat is tender, yet crispy. Low-key, neighborhood Cuban food is what Cuba Sandwich Cafe is all about.
1804 Briarcliff Blvd. – Yelp
A couple other restaurants in town with Cuban dishes I’d like to note:
According to Cuban tradition, it’s customary to sip on a hot cup of coffee with sugar after a long meal. I tend to agree with that! Take it slow, enjoy every bite and be inspired to take a future trip to Cuba.
@theAustinot wants to know:
In your opinion, who makes the best Cuban sandwich in Austin?