Havana Restaurant is the real deal when to comes to Cuban fare in Atlanta; a family owned and ran operation that has been cooking up family specialties for over 30 years. The restaurant re-opened about two years ago (after a major fire) in the Crossroads Villages shopping center adjacent to Lee’s Bakery on the corner of Clairmont and Buford Hwy. It’s hard to spot driving by, as it’s in a little bit of a valley, and the rest of the shopping center is virtually empty; at least there’s plenty of room for parking!
The restaurant has counter service and the line can run out the door at lunch time, so plan on going before noon to guarantee a seat and a shorter wait. Second generation owner/operator Eddie Benedict Jr. is likely to greet you with a smile, tell you about the specials and take your order; the prices are very reasonable so feel free to order more than one item. Their menu consists of a variety of classic sandwiches (from the ubiquitous Cuban to its sister the Medianoche), sides (plantains, yucca fritters & rice), full plates (stewed chicken breast, breaded & fried pork, etc.) and combos, but I was here for the Cuban. The bread is a very important piece of the Cuban and where most fail; Havana’s is fresh and crispy, which provides a prefect bite to the melty cheese, ham, pork and pickles. The sharp mustard sauce is a perfect complement to the sandwich and gives it a little kick that makes this one of the best Cuban sandwiches in town!
Their sides are also worth exploring; both plantain options (sweet maduros & green tostones) are solid but I love the sweeter maduros for their creamy texture. I also sampled a few of the ham and chicken croquets and a few bites of a beef empanada…yes I realize that is a ridiculous amount of food but it’s worth it; I can always juice tomorrow…
They have several different kinds of empanadas (beef, chicken, chicken-mushroom, & mushroom w/ cheese and jalapeno) and they’re fired to perfection; little crispy pillows encasing juicy inhabitants. These are also on the combo menu, but I recommend getting one of each for the table and letting everyone try a bite!
If you decide to go with a plate, go hungry as the portion size is not small. On a subsequent visit I tried the arroz con pollo (stewed chicken leg w/ rice) and the delicious fried pork hunks… they also have a few vegetarian items for those people we all must tolerate from time to time. I haven’t been to every Cuban spot in the city, but this is the most authentic, most flavorful I have had to date, and hey I’m 1/32 Cuban so I know what I’m talking about!