A Piece of Havana wins the title of best Cuban restaurant in Charlotte! By default. It’s the only Cuban restaurant in Charlotte. Sure, maybe I should be counting places like Pio Pio, Viva Chicken, Anntony’s Caribbean Cafe, Malabar, Punta Cana – but, I’m just not.
When I walked into A Piece of Havana it was everything I wanted it to be. In a strip mall? Check. Dim lighting? Check. Cuban news playing on two televisions? Check. Cigar box decor? Check. Photo of a shirtless Cuban farmer milking a cow in the men’s restroom? Check.
The story behind A Piece of Havana: “Created by a Cuban Family in Charlotte to celebrate their cultural heritage, and their family Cooking tradition since Cuba. Juan Plasencia one of the owners have that cooking love from his mother, she is a graduated Cuban Chef in Havana, Cuba and he have that dream of having those excellent dishes brought to Charlotte, so people can get delighted with the Authentic Cuban dishes.”
The handsome gentlemen I was dining with explained, “I used to live in Miami and this is the real deal. Best Cuban restaurant in Charlotte.”
So I did what any new media loser would do, I posted to the Agenda Instagram and asked what I should order. Here are 10 of Charlotte’s responses:
- Jenn: “Roasted Chicken with Black Beans, Rice & Plantains. The Mojitos are great too!”
- Angie: “Around the corner from crib. Haven’t been but my parents love it.”
- Sofla: “Not a bad choice, but my go to choice this side of South Florida is Mambo Grille in Salisbury. It’s worth the drive and worth bribing a designated driver. Both the food and the mojitos are spot on.”
- Weird5ish: “May be the only exclusively Cuban restaurant in town, unless there are others anyone knows of? As a Miami native, I’d definitely vouch for this spot down South Tryon.”
- Beer Growler: “Love this place! Been here many times over the last few years. Excellent Cuban food!”
- Courtney: “Any of the mojitos and if you need to eat, the Mar y Mundo to share. Just seeing this, I need to plan a trip.”
- Freaky Curry: “Fried plantains, tostones!”
- Ozwirn: “I have been a few times and not impressed. Last time we went the cuban sandwhich had mold on the bread.”
- Aldo: “Parillada plus bottle of red.”
- Heather: “They sell food? I don’t remember that part… I only remember the mojitos!! Traditional, Pineapple, Coconut, Mango, should I keep going?”
Grading my lunch at A Little Piece of Havana
Mariquitas with Avocado Dip ($8.95): A. Outstanding. Heavy salt. Bites of Mariquitas (fried plantains?) were a mix of crunchy and soft. Great texture. My expectations for the guac where low, but it tasted fresh and a perfect combo of avocados,tomatoes, onions, cilantro.
Cuban Sandwich ($7.99). B-. My expectations were high and this didn’t blow me away. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t special. Side of black beans were solid, but they’re still black beans. Tried the fried plantains and I highly recommend those.
Since we felt like we were on the streets of Cuba (not really) we order a Cafe con Leche after lunch. Rocked my world and vaulted me into productive work mode for the rest of the afternoon.
Overall: Go there, it’s the real deal. I didn’t drink alcohol because it makes me feel funny, but judging from Instagram responses, it sounds like their drinks are delightful.