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Apr 17, 2008 10:30 AM

Cuban in Highlands

Does anyone know how long Havana Tropical Grill ( has been open, and if it is connected to the old Havana restaurant at that location years ago?

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  1. Havan has only been open for a couple of months, at most. There is no relationship to the prior incarnation of Havana, which was followed by the very short-lived Rice. I have yet to dine but I do pass it quite a bit and activity there is growing. It should sprout a business soon with its beautiful outdoor set-up.

    1. thanks for the headsup on this place, had not previously heard/read of -- and its tucked in away where if you're going to inlet cafe or bahrs, you'd never see it but not hard to get to from woodbridge. went early sat nite, just us 2. was really enjoyable. #1 service - was excellent, very well informed staff providing explanation and recommendations of food. i had skirt steak, and SO had shredded beef in cuban style red sauce, also had deep fried pork appetz, and empanads (ALL DELISH). ambience is ornate (fake banana trees kinda tacky but fun), outside dining area well done, beautiful chairs, large koi pond, overhead fans, perfectly lit bar and tables (even a dominos table), and two semi-enclosed huts for dining too. very cool place, and would recommend for a fun, tasty night. prices decent too (not that i care cause i aint payin'...) wouldnt say "outrageous" but very good, would def revisit. proprietor Ralph owns another joint up in eliz but this is much fancier. i think this place will make it if they keep up the service and food, umm. (couple photos attached)

      1 Reply
      1. re: nyebaby37

        Thanks for the report. I kind of figured there was no connection to the old place given the differences in the menus, especially the prices! I have a copy of the menu from the old place in my collection, check out

      2. We dined there late last summer when they first opened. We sat outside which was lovely. The staff were all very knowledgeable about their dishes. We had the empandas for an appetizer. There were two (or maybe even three) on the plate of differant varities and are very very good. I had the skirt steak for dinner but honestly, I probably would not order it again because it was a bit dry. I have had this in other Cuban restaurants where it came with sauted onions an garlic on top. They did not serve it that way. It was basically just fried steak. I don't recall what my DH had but I know he enjoyed his dish. (sorry, it was several months ago). As for cocktails, we started the dinner with mojitos, which were very tasty and then switched to sangria. They do a nice sangria. My only disappointement was that they were out of plantains that night. Other than I would say it was very enjoyable especially if you are in the mood for a differant cuisine. I would go back.

        1. Went to dinner at Havana Tropical Café in Highlands on Friday, was a very attractive venue, sitting outdoors under than canopy with a breeze rustling the palm fronds. Was a nice view of the koi pond and sounds of falling water and the shrieking girl at the bar. It went downhill from there...

          Asked for a Margarita Habana, waiter asked if I wanted frozen or on the rocks, I said "on the rocks." Salt or no salt? "Salt."

          Waiter returned with a frozen margarita, no salt.

          Girl at bar was was like a 9 year old that never grew up. Yelled instead of talking, squealing instead of laughing.

          Empanadas were bland, and served with a dipping sauce of diluted vinegar and scallions, which tasted like... diluted vinegar and scallions.

          Girl at bar was chattering like a howler monkey.

          I've never had Cuban roasted pork that managed to be both fatty and dry as leather, but they pulled it off.

          All in all it was a true delight for at least two of the five senses.

          1 Reply
          1. re: equal_Mark

            Your experience sounds more like ours several weeks ago and I was rather surprised at some of the more enthusiastic reports here. It was ohh-kay. We stopped at the (indoor) bar for a drink before dinner and waited a good 10 minutes to be noticed. There was a really noisy dominos game going on in the bar area, sort of killed my groove. We finally placed our drinks order with a very young woman who looked as if she had never before stepped behind a bar. When we saw her utter befuddlement at our request we cancelled our drinks order and beat feet to Windandsea for a proper martini.

            Back to Havana for dinner, the food was pretty good. I’d like to try their Cuban sandwich another time. The empanadas were good enough, but my “fancy green mussels” were NOT. Not awful, but not very good. And nothing fancy that I could see. We had steaks, rice and beans, fat, garlic, really pretty much Cuban food as I know it. Okay, but not wondreful.

            The service was fine after the bobble at the bar. During conversation at the table I made a point with an empty wine glass and it shattered into bits. The waiter swapped it out quietly and I made a note to myself to be emphatic only with a coffee mug in future.

            It's not that we wont go back, but we're not exactly bumping it up on the list.

          2. My husband and I have been there twice so far and really liked it. They were very accomodating. We asked how long they were open, less than a year. It tends to be very crowded on Fridays and Saturday evenings so we went during the latter part of the afternoon. We're vegan/vegetarian so they made us dishes without any meat. Everything was fresh and our waitress was very attentive without being pushy or hovering over us. Try the mojitos and sangria. Not sure if they are the same as the old Havana though. I would give them a try. We're planning on going this weekend.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rutgers2

              I drove by the other day. The outside, which is beautiful and cleverly hides the dumpster area, is packed and the inside is nearly empty. Highlands is a tough spot to be successful in, as the many restaurants that have come and gone have proven. The Inlet cafe is among the only long running success stories. With, of course, Bahrs leading the way.

              1. re: hotfoodhot

                Didn't notice the dumpster--too busy looking at the koi. My husband and I are hoping this place does well. We'd also like a moratorium on Italian places. There is really nothing good in our area. We liked Andretta's although the last time we were there, I asked for a vegan pasta dish (broccoli and whole wheat pasta). Even though they were glad to accomodate me, the dish was literally swimming in watery olive oil and there was too much uncooked garlic. We were happy with the atmosphere at Havana and with the service and the food (I mentioned they made us vegan entrees, no fuss). So, we hope they do well and fix some of the things that other posters noticed and commented on.