Sunday, June 13, 2010

Habana Libre

Nothing beats getting to know new friends over an unexpectedly delicious dining experience. A couple days ago Warren's sister Christina came to celebrate her 21st birthday here in Chicago. We planned to meet over dinner and then head out to break in her I.D at a local bar.

Generally speaking, dinner is always better with drinks. Therefore picking a BYOB restaurant takes a few clicks in the right neighborhood and viola I found Habana Libre conveniently located between Warren and my apartment in Noble Square.
I like to check out reviews before I try a new place and all reviews gave us the green light. The sisters had some white wine while the Buckler's had a six-pack of Summer Shandy. A couple glasses went by while we waited for Christina's friends Kang and Natalie who brought more treats.
I don't know if we expected how amazing the Cuban flare would be- I mean hey I've never had Cuban so what to expect? I'd rather show.
Salmon with mango salsa, white rice and beans with plantains. 

Steak with carmalized onions
Carne Asada steak. 
Carne Asada special with shrimp
Chicken with garlic 
Another chicken dish with Cuban spices

Home-made hot sauce with jalapenos and cilantro

Habana Libre looks like another dive, nestled in between West town bars. You walk in and are welcomed by pleasant staff. The music was authentic and so the kind service. I did think the added fees (corkage, bread etc.) were unnecessary but the food made up for it. I highly recommend any of the steak dishes which several of us tried. I got the Salmon with mango salsa, and they were not frugal with the portion, that's for sure. We requested hot sauce and were pleasantly surprised by a homemade jalapeno salsa. 
What topped of the evening (besides the bottle of wine, two six packs, and sangria) was the birthday surprise: the entire staff singing which brought the whole restaurant clapping.
Can't wait to come back!

Habana Libre on Urbanspoon