Totally out-of-this-world quesadillas de pollo
Mercedes' impressive torta
A whole menu of incredible dishes awaits you
An island of satisfaction amidst the streets of Nolita
Peering in at the lucky patrons
BITES ON A BUDGETis a toothsome and tasty series where members of the OC family forage for great food–under $10!
Habana: light of my life. My sin, my soul, Ha-ba-na. My emotions toward Café Habana could rival those of Vladimir Nabokov's toward his beloved Lolita. While this joint might not be quite secretive or hidden at all, it's a gem nonetheless. I usually go for brunch (who could turn down mimosas, sangria, and café con leche?) but I found myself heading toward this traditional dive when it dawned on me that there's so much to be had at under ten dollars. Self-described as "Home-style Latin food with unique Cuban and Central Mexican accents," Habana has a wide range of dishes that will not disappoint.
Of course, the shining jewel of the establishment is their Mexican-style grilled corn. Taking a look around, it's difficult to find a table that doesn't start off with that delectable appetizer. Slathered with cotija cheese, chili powder, and mayo, it's not tough to understand why you'll hear everyone raving about it. Squeeze a slice of lime on it and you're set to go.
For the main dish, I decided to try the grilled chicken quesadillas with smoked cheddar in a cilantro and lemon tortilla. Both Mercedes and I were blown away by the amount of flavor packed in these three slices of heaven. Served with black beans and yellow rice, it's an unbelievable combination of the best flavors around. Seriously cheesy – in the best way possible – and incredibly flavorful, these are not your typical chicken quesadillas.
Mercedes picked the "torta de queso blanco y aguacate," i.e. the avocado and cheese sandwich with lettuce, tomato, black beans, and pickled jalapeños. I can vouch for her in saying that it was quite tasty, with crispy toasted bread and filled with a wide array of fresh ingredients, it's yet another serious deal at $9.75.
Perhaps I'll see you at this paradise on Prince, but adiós for now!