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2.5
  • Food3
  • Service2.5
  • Value2.5
  • Ambiance3.5
  • Reviews68

Havana Restaurant

1212 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC V5L3X4
Tel: (604) 253-9119
Neighbourhood: Grandview-Woodland
  • Cuisine: Cuban, Latin American
  • Price: $$ ($15 - $30)
  • Reservations: Accepted
  • Service: Takeout
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Weekend brunch
  • Features: Ocean Wise, Patio
  • Hours: Mon - Thu: 11AM - 11PM, Fri: 11AM - 12AM, Sat: 10AM - 12AM, Sun: 10AM - 11PM
  • The Restaurant offers Nuevo Latino Cuisine and authentic Cuban cocktails in a funky, distressed, casual setting. Havana has a large well-heated all-weather patio that is situated directly across from Grandview Park with a view of the city skyline and the Coastal Mountain Range.

Reviews

Displaying 1 - 20 of 68 Reviews FoundSort: Useful | Helpful | Reviews | Date
More "Show" than "Go"
By itadakimasu of Vancouver (101 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - 1:44pm [Dine in]

A nice warm spring evening along the Drive attracted us to Havana. The patio was packed with the hip crowd. We got a booth just inside the front doors. The server was friendly and efficient. The decor was cool and reminescent of Hemingway's hangout. The Sangria selection was nice (3 kinds). Unfortunately, the most important feature of the restaurant was a disappointment. Just like the previous posts, the $19 Paella was a bland lump of mushy rice with overcooked seafood. The other dishes (Drive burger $14, & salad $7) were nothing to write home about. This place reminds me of Marcello's up the street because the crowd and servers and young & cool, but the food is not up to par.

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Not good value
By cocoeater of vancouver (323 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, October 28, 2008 - 11:06am [Dine in]

Went to Havana's on a weeknight and tried a couple of their starters. The ribs were just ok, a bit too wet for my liking as it was smothered with some sort of sauce. The seafood trio was good but not worth the $16 charge for the amount you get. 1 scalloop, 3 prawns and some tuna tartare. The chicken wrap was the only main tasted as it was very good and nice shoestring fries. The service was very attentive and drinks just average. Wouldn't chose this place as a pure dining experience. Would only return in the summer to be on the deck.

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Not cool
By chasiubow of North Van (675 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 2:31pm [Dine in]

I've been dragged to Havana a couple of different times, and I have to agree with some of the reviews here. The ambience was once nice enough (haven't been to the back room), and it is a good place for drinks on a warm day, but like the city it is named for, it has seen better days. Last time I went I had the inedible chicken. The staff are rather rude, and the place is dirty, so I can't recommend. There are so many better places on the Drive, that you ought not to waste any time here...

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Did They Leave The Flavour In Cuba?
By diner40 of Vancouver (95 Reviews)
Submitted Wednesday, December 28, 2011 - 4:21pm [Dine in]

Trust me I am not difficult to please. When I get good service and food I am a very happy camper but lately, as you can see by my past few reviews, I have had some really bad luck at Greater Vancouver restaurants.

The latest downer was Havana. Went there yesterday for lunch by myself after strolling down a rain soaked Commercial Drive I thought a good meal would pick up my spirits. Wrong.

Inside the place was jammed with people so the only seats available were outside on their huge patio underneath the heat lamps. It took longer than it should have for a server to acknowledge me sitting at one of the tables, even longer for my beer to arrive.

After getting the menu from a different server I selected the paella. I have had paella before and it was really good at another establishment. Didn't take all that long for my $20.00 dish of paella to arrive. There were a fair number of mussels and prawns, the sausage was difficult to detect, there were also some veggies and brown rice and beans but not enough of the brown rice and beans in my view. The dish looked good but tasted pretty much like nothing.

I thought Cuban food was suppose to have lot's of spice, a bit of heat and life to it. This was the most bland tasting dish of food I have had in awhile. I've had spicier tasting Lifesavers. The prawns were fine, the mussels ok however for 20 bucks it just wasn't happening.

I had three different servers, a male server brought me the paella and tended to me for the remainder of my visit. He had zero personality. He brought me stuff and took stuff away and he took longer than he should have. I sat there for a good amount of time with my dirty bowl and beer glass in front of me although he past by the table on at least two occasions when he should of taken it away.

In the end I asked for my bill payed for the overpriced dish, which is really getting to be a theme with me lately. I left a very minimal tip I was so ticked off with everything. Mr. Personality had the gall to ask me whether or not I liked the service, in other words "why aren't you giving me more of a tip?". I said the service was mediocre and left it at that although I could of said so much more.

Note to servers. I fully understand that you make the bulk of your wage through tips. When I receive good service I tip at least 15 per cent and many times more than that. Your job is to work at getting that 15 per cent tip or more. It is not a guarantee. I refuse to pay for mediocre service and food, which lately I seem to be getting plenty of both in this city.

Interact with your customers a bit. Put a smile on your face. Since it's Christmas time while taking an order why not ask a customer how their Christmas was? Fake it if you have to but that my friends is the trick to getting the money you think you may deserve.

Work for it. I am not an unreasonable diner who can never be satisfied and want you to jump through numerous hoops. I want a decent dining experience and lately they seem hard to find.

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Not bad food
By cyberspace of vancouver (89 Reviews)
Submitted Friday, November 27, 2009 - 9:40am [Dine in]

Had lunch at the drive. There were 6 of us and we had made reservations for lunch but they only had a small table available. This was ok. Had the yam fries which were good. Their soup was good also. Had a chicken wrap which was good. The restaurant was busy. The service was good but a bit pricey for what you get. I would go back as i would not mind trying different things.

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Unique in Little Italy
By diningRL of East Vancouver (65 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, September 17, 2006 - 10:06pm [Dine in]

The atmosphere in this restaurant is great. The decor is interesting. Not sure who the person beside Castro in the picture is (I'm assuming it's the owner).

The food was great. Speed was average. Service was average as well.

Will definitely visit again.

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Hot night in Havana
By mapia of Port Moody, Greater Vancouver (53 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, August 17, 2006 - 12:39pm [Dine in]

Mid July, heat wave, could only get a table inside.....it was DAMN hot and the waitress kept forgetting to bring up water!! Food was OK, but overall wasn't impressed, especially after all the hype I had heard about it.

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Commercial Drive experience
By whataview of yaletown (66 Reviews)
Submitted Saturday, January 14, 2006 - 2:06am [Dine in]

This is one of the best place's to really experience Commercial Drive. The food and service are fine but the ambiance is the differentiating factor here. It's a bit grungy but hey, it's the Drive. Not a bad place to stop for breakfast or lunch.

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The sunshine is FREE.
By louielobster of Glendale (53 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, April 8, 2007 - 10:42am [Dine in]

I haven’t been here at Havana’s for quite some time, not for any negative reasons. This place just feel of alienation, seems like the patron’s are all smug and imported from elsewhere. The front staff’s trying to be a little too cool and they’re not paying attention to their tables. But it’s spring, the sun is shining and you’re with friends! Life is good.

For lunch we ordered the Chicken Fajitas, Hamburger and Fettuccini with Shrimp and Crabmeat. Our orders arrived without incident and in a timely manner (except the waters). My friends raved about their fajitas and complained about their hamburger (better at the BBQ Hamburger Pit). My fettuccini arrived al dente as promised but the seafood was tasteless and the sauce was thin and watery. My garlic bread comprised of one soggy piece (the size of two teaspoons) that was sitting in sauce on top of the fettuccini. No fine dinning here. Aghhh…but the company’s good.

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not as bad as they say
By yummitummi of Vancouver (46 Reviews)
Submitted Wednesday, June 18, 2008 - 9:16pm [Dine in]

Came here on a Monday night. They don't take reservations but our party of six was seated right away.
Food: The lamb curry was received well, as were the mussels (in blanco sauce) and the shrimp salad. The Montreal smoked meat sandwich left something to be desired, but my friend finished it anyway. The seafood paella was mostly mussels and shrimp with some sausage in it - not bad, not great. The sangria was not very strong in alcohol; it was like juice.
Service: Our server was friendly and had no problem with splitting our bill as we requested.
Ambiance: We were seated inside, which was kind of hot being summer, but the patio looked lively. There's lots of art and "so-and-so were here" scrawlings on the wall. The inside of the restaurant has an open kitchen, and an art gallery in the back. Washrooms were clean.

Will return to try the mojitos!

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Slightly overpriced
By bobo of vancouver (47 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, June 19, 2006 - 2:07am [Dine in]

Many people raved about their sangria, and that's what drove me to try it. They were right, the sangria was good, so was the salad I ordered but it wasn't spectacular. The service was lacking but the patio is a good place to people-watch.

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Great little theatre and the best veggie burgers in the city!
By piscesgirl of vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 6:45am [Dine in]

First of all, who knew they had an art gallery and a theatre space in the back. Almost any night of the week you can see a play by an emerging local theatre company or check out some art by a local artist. Very cool.
Secondly, this place has the best veggie burger in the city. Trust me.
Combine these things with a great patio and yummy sangria and mojitos, and you've got an amazing way to spend an afternoon into evening on The Drive.
It says here you can't make reservations, but their website does let you book a table.
You won't be disappointed. Unless you don't like good food, good drinks, or fun times.

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Great patio...that's about it
By trenzy of Vancouver (36 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, January 8, 2008 - 10:46am [Dine in]

Contrary to some of the reviews on here, we had a good experience the first time we went to Havana... the pasta was quite well done. However, the 2nd time we went was for appy's and drinks.

I was very disappointed, we ordered an appy platter and very little was edible on the plate. Poorly conceived and executed. What was more disappointing was that our drinks weren't good either. The sangria tasted like juice, my beer was warm.

It does have one of the best patio's in the city, and our dog was able to hang out with us for drinks, so that's a definate positive.

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Absolutely delish!
By dishitout of vancouver (5 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, August 16, 2007 - 6:31pm [Dine in]

This a really popular hangout place for drinks on Commercial Drive. I had gone here a couple of years ago for a year-end drinky get-together. This time, I went with my girlfriends. We actually had a 20 minute wait on a Wednesday night! The wait was well worth it though...I think we all just found a new Top 5 restaurant.

The food was incredible. The Havana Mussels are a must. They were huge mussels, the portion was very decent, and just absolutely delicious. Yam fries were tasty as well. If you're looking for a pasta dish, you must order the chicken penne. I don't think any of us have ever enjoyed a chicken penne pasta this good before. The only dish I think we'll pass on next time is the wings. They were over battered and kind of dry.

And what's a girls night out dinner without drinks, right? We had a couple of pitchers of the champagne sangria. Absolutely divine!

The restaurant's kind of funky with the initials-carved-in-tree feel; but instead it's all the walls of the restaurant. I just wish the funky art gallery at the back was converted into another dining room so people wouldn't have to wait to get a seat.

The service was okay. Not commendable but not bad either.

Food was so good that I'm heading back there tonight (only 2 days after!) but with other girlfriends this time.

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Lively and atmospheric
By ngibzak of Burnaby (22 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, August 6, 2009 - 1:13pm [Dine in]

Looking for a fun place to go, a small group of us hit up Havana’s over the weekend for a late dinner. With it being fireworks night, we were betting the restaurant would be a little less busy than normal, and we’d be able to grab a table straight away. It didn’t quite work exactly as planned – the patio was still packed and we had to sit inside – but at least there wasn’t a long wait.

Once settled in, we immediately ordered a pitcher of sangria. There are a couple of different blends available, and we voted to try the tropical. I don’t know if there was a mix-up with the order, because when our sangria came, there didn’t seem to be anything particularly tropical about it. It was perfectly fine otherwise – cool, refreshing, and packed with fresh (although not tropical) fruit. But, as someone in our group remarked, it would’ve been even better if they’d thrown a mango or kiwi into the mix.

For my main, I chose the braised lamb shank with potatoes and au jus. The lamb itself was beautiful – moist and fall-off-the-bone tender. Unfortunately, the gravy (and I’m not normally one to complain about gravy) leaned towards the salty side, to the point that I couldn’t even detect the chipotle in the dish. I consider myself to be more tolerant of salt than most people, but even for me it was almost too much. The others in the group were okay with their food, though; the only nitpick I overhead regarding a general dislike for the beans (fortunately there weren’t any in my order).

In terms of service and ambiance, Havana’s scores good marks. Our server was bright, attentive, and really seemed to make an effort to make dinner fun. And, even though we didn’t get a patio table overlooking the Drive as originally planned, it was still cool eating inside the restaurant. With its distressed walls lined with graffiti and old photos, not to mention the oppressive heat of that night, we really did feel like we were dining somewhere in Latin America. Havana’s offers a unique dining experience that’d I’d try again.

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Great spot on The Drive is aging nicely
By Scott Qwerty of Vancouver (15 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, December 9, 2012 - 11:39pm [Dine in]

Seems like just a little while ago that Havana was a new hot spot in East Vancouver, but it has now evolved into an old standby and minor institution. With a good-sized sidewalk patio, a warm and inviting interior dining room, plus art gallery space and a small theatre, Havana is a favourite hangout spot for many for many different reasons.
On a recent visit, I had the seafood paella and it was delicious, with just the right amount of spice.
While I drank a fairly-priced red wine by the glass, they have a reputation for some of the best mojitos and sangria in the city.
The waitresses and bartender were friendly and timely.
I've seen stuff at the little theatre a few times now and it is a good, intimate little space.
Note: Havana is about 10 short blocks north of the Broadway/Commercial Skytrain station.

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Nothing Cuban about it
By Pam_Dim of Vancouver (15 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, December 26, 2010 - 11:26pm [Dine in]

My wife and I live off the Drive, and have been to Havana's for brunch many times, always getting our needs met with no hassles. Tonight we decided to go for a winter ale beer and appies. The beer was fantastic, the food we regretted. We ordered guacamole with tortilla chips and corn salsa, as well as short ribs. The guacamole was flavourless, very bland. The corn salsa was just that, corn and a bit of cilantro. I could've pulled out a can of corn and threw cilantro on it myself, waste of seven bucks! The short ribs tasted like Korean BBQ flavor, but very heavy on the salt. It was like someone dumped a bucket of salt on it. And the amount we were given was pretty small for thirteen dollars. The service was good, and the beer was great (who doesn't love winter ale?), but we will only be back again if we're going for brunch. Or mojitos. Or both.

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Awesome food and nice atmosphere
By jazzmin08 of Surrey (14 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, October 19, 2010 - 11:45am [Dine in]

My husband and I went here for dinner and the food was fantastic! The interior is pretty neat especially when we heard about the inspiration for the wall etchings. We will definitley be going back. I was surprised to see some older bad reviews, perhaps the restaurant has picked things up. When we went in early October it was solid all the way through.

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Lucky they have a patio
By buffysummers of East Vancouver (18 Reviews)
Submitted Friday, April 23, 2010 - 3:21am [Dine in]

This is one of the few places that is consistently busy on Commercial Drive -- on sunny days. It has a large patio and an interesting interior, but that's pretty much all it has going for it. There are about two dishes on the entire menu that are haflway decent, and everything else is just lousy and inedible. The crabcakes are rubbery and sit like a lead brick, but their pasta is sometimes okay. It's all extremely, extremely overpriced -- although I imagine the crowd it attracts wouldn't think so. Some of the staff are friendly, and the other half are horribly rude, so fingers crossed that you get the nice waitress who actually comes back to your tabel and takes your order within the first half hour.

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Return for Mohitos on the Patio, Not the Food
By darthphaidra of East Vancouver (13 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - 4:15pm [Dine in]

Mojito jugs 24.99
Strawberry Mohitos with Ginger Ale 24.99
Fantastic if you have the money to drop.

Got a good buzz on, bathed in the sun by the park.

Veggie burger-asked if it was homemade, still looked like a money's mushroom burger, and grilled to a dry texture-the cranberry sauce only covered up the taste of PURE BLAND! CULINARY FAILURE.

Baked Brie- Needed more bread. Chutney not that interesting. I've got ginger rhubarb jam at home I'm more fond of.

Yam Fries- Pass but are a rip off for a small basket at 7.95 leaving 2 people hungry for more.

Service slow to order drinks even though we knew what we wanted when we sat down. Food came to us quickly and hot.

Left Mediocre tip. Will return for Mojitos as I am addicted to the drink, but only when I feel rich enough to say goodbye to a fair chunk of change.

Cuban fare=seafood
Havana=Commercial Drive Fare

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