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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 21 - 40 of 68 Reviews FoundSort: Useful | Helpful | Reviews | Date
Gross
By yesplease of West End (3 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 10:43pm [Dine in]

Had such a disappointing experience.

We were seated on the patio right away, which was nice, but then waited far too long for our server. She was very friendly, and the red sangria she served us was good, but that's about it for positive things to say about the place.

I felt like eating light, so I ordered the pan-seared squid with a side salad. What came was a tower of pre-frozen, giant rings of overcooked squid that were impossible to chew. Since when do cubans eat inner tubes?

My partner had a lamb tagine that he didn't mind, but why on earth is there a north african dish on a "cuban" restaurant's menu?

I won't go back for food ever again, those squid make me shudder!

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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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over-rated.
By bigcup of East Vancouver (2 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, April 5, 2007 - 8:48pm [Dine in]

i've been to havana tons of times and every time i feel like it gets worse and worse. i keep trying it because my friends love it. every time i think to myself: this is the time havana will be as good as everyone says (or the first time i came, but maybe that was because i was drinking before i ate). the patio is great, especially in the summer, and it has a good atmosphere. i've had service here ranging from pretty good to pretty bad. the food, though, is really poor quality. people may disagree with me, but the burgers are nothing out of the ordinary: go to red robin for a better burger, even. everything else is really expensive. last time i ate there i had a salad for $13 that was a pile of spring mix (straight outta the box) with a few pieces of (i'm pretty sure) pre-frozen pieces of fried chicken. oh, it came with some mayo-ish salad dressing and a few pieces of mango too, i guess to spruce it up a little. not worth the money though. i like the yam fries and the mojitos and that's about it. if you're looking for a great meal, go across the street to stellas or up the street to wazuubis.

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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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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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Surprised By Good Reviews
By foodologist of Vancouver (15 Reviews)
Submitted Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 6:52am [Dine in]

I am very surprised by any good review of this establishment. Equally surprised that it won some Georgia Straight award (really makes me question integrity of award). And are surprised this place gets any customers.

It must be for the alcohol and deck since their food is REALLY bad yet they charge like they're the friggin' Four Seasons. Have been here twice (at friend's insistence) and have been disappointed buy the food each time.

They should have a menu or restaurant makeover...

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I'm not sure what I keep going back?
By pachowhi of Vancouver (13 Reviews)
Submitted Friday, August 24, 2007 - 12:59pm [Dine in]

Rating this restaurant made me wonder why I keep going back.

The food never seems to live up to what I anticipate it to be on the menu. It's not terrible, not great, it's just decent. I think they have a flavouring issue here. All of the menu items read as if they are better, the menu is quite inticing. When the food finally arrives, however, it is like others have said, kinda blah. Not yucky, just no flavour sensation.

The service is not terrible nor great either. Everyone's playing up the cool thing, but they don't seem to realize that being warm and smiling more often doesn't compromise 'coolness'.

What I like about this place is the set up and the vibe and I guess I keep hoping that something will actually taste as good as it sounds on the menu (because everything sounds great). The gallery in the back - I love it, and I love supporting local art. And, oh yeah, the garlic toast is very good. I also like going for a drink and having a little snack here late at night. Come to think of it, I often end up here because nothing else is open (I seem to either come on the late or early side). Breakfasts are also disappointing. Maybe I come because I love black beans so much? Ha!

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Relaxing restaurant
By cododd of east van (19 Reviews)
Submitted Monday, July 24, 2006 - 3:22pm [Dine in]

I have been here several times over the past few years and have both good and bad experiences. Service can sometimes be slow, but I am not hesitant to get up and get things myself or ask for them directly. I quite enjoy the distressed decor and find this place a good one to relax in. I always enjoy thier mojito's. The menu keeps changing which has it's up and down sides (good to have variety but the things I really like keep going away!), but at least I can always get edemame and those delicious sweet potato fries. I also enjoy the mussles and can often get by quite happily without ordering any entree at all.

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Meh....not again
By Binky of Coquitlam (32 Reviews)
Submitted Sunday, July 25, 2010 - 4:48pm [Dine in]

Went for brunch on Sat. July 24 and sat on the patio. Well, I had to turn my chair sideways as the chair from the next table left me about 8 inches. My friend and I both ordered the Fritatta for 13.00 and it arrived fairly quickly, but was lukewarm at best and unfortunately was missing the promised goat's cheese and potatoes, so it was fairly small. The "grilled" tortilla that was mentioned on the menu was simply one taken from the package and folded...BUT as it turns out, this tortilla came in real handy to soak up the grease from the bottom of the bowl. The "roasted vegetables" had no taste and seemed like they were leftovers from the night before. The water was fine though. Why the patio was 3/4 full was beyond me!! My friend also had the iced coffee which seemed ok and was 3.99 Not again.........meh

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What happened????
By sambajammer of East Van (1 Review)
Submitted Thursday, April 4, 2013 - 7:12pm [Dine in]

Pushy disinterested staff and poor quality food that is overpriced. The veggie burger was boring with a waxy pickle and fries that were not quite as good as those at McDonalds, my paella was a dirty mound of rice with a few vegetables and way too much "sausage" which was really seasoned pork and ground beef, the mussles were decent but too few and the shrimp were so over-cooked you could bounce them off the wall. Our plates were whisked away while I was finishing my last mouthful and my partner's plate was taken while there was still food on it and no-one bothered to ask is she was finished. USed to like this place, more for brunch than dinner, but given the wait it is really not worth the time or money. Avoid it, there are better places to experience the Drive.

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One of my faves!
By ejd23 of Vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 10:41am [Dine in]

I love this place. It has one of my favourite patios in the whole city for people watching, cocktail drinking and enjoying the sun. They make the best mojitos and their coffee is fair trade. Everything I have ever eaten their has been delicious. Pretty much anything you order to eat or drink is going to be good. Inside has a great ambiance as well with the design giving off the perfect old Havana type vibe. Also, they have both an art gallery and theatre space in the back. There are shows 5 nights a week so you can take in a dinner and a show all in the one place. Couldn't recommend it more. :)

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Not worth it
By DriveGuy of Vancouver (Commercial Drive) (4 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - 11:51pm [Dine in]

I've eaten there three times now because I really wanted to give this place a chance. I think it's great that they integrate a restaurant with a studio so that there can be some community focused content. My problem is that the food is really just not that great. I think it's the kind of patio place where people go to socialize and be outside when the weather is nice - I do not think it's a fine dining experience.

Every time I have gone the food has been slow to arrive, and the food itself is not justified by the high prices. The staff don't have the greatest attitudes, but it might be because they are overworked. One time I was there it was a full house but there only seemed to be 3 people working the floor. (My server got a sympathy tip.)

Aside from the social ambiance, I really don't understand the draw that so many people have to this restaurant. My observation is that it tends to be people coming from downtown to have a novel "Drive" experience. All of my local friends who live in East Van never eat there, and feel the same about the food quality vs. price.

I've never been to Cuba so I can't comment on the authenticity, but I HAVE been to many restaurants so I recognize quality when I see it. The service and food quality is more reminiscent of a bar atmosphere than finer dining.

I would only go to Havana if you want a lively, social atmosphere and a nice patio. The food is not worth it and neither is the attitude of the staff. Just my two cents.

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Had a great time!!
By timmybrent74 of Vancouver (1 Review)
Submitted Saturday, December 4, 2010 - 10:17am [Dine in]

Pissy, rainy night outside. Warm and cozy inside. Food was terrific! Service was good. Atmosphere was fantastic. Was told by our server that there was a theatrical performance going on in the theater. (Didn't even know they had a theater). Will have to check that out sometime! Overall... very satisfied.

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awesome food, service could be better
By mdfood of Surrey , B.C. (5 Reviews)
Submitted Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 12:28pm [Dine in]

I love havanas on a sunny day. The patio has a great vibe. Everything ties in well with your pitcher of sangria. The food is mouth watering. Too bad the servers couldn't be nicer. I've gone to this restaurant many times, and i must say the last time i went was the best. I had a new server who actually enjoyed their job. Im an easy customer, I try not to make there life hard, keep orders simple, im polite, and i dont mind tipping. But still these servers one in particular which i've had a few times are hard to keep happy. Mind you i will continue going to havanas for the great food. But let it be known Its the food that keeps this restaurant going!

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Average At Best - Best A Miss
By dai_lo of Yaletown, Vancouver (26 Reviews)
Submitted Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 8:31pm [Dine in]

This place is so over-hyped and under-valued. The food is average at best but throw in their pricing and it's all of a sudden POOR. The decor is a little funky - but unfortunately, I CAN'T eat decor.

They are in desperate need of an experienced "Cuban-trained" chef that can replicate the flavors of Cuba. What they've done is more of a faux-Cuban.

With so many GREAT places on the drive - this is best to miss. GO to Stellas, Fets or Lomabardos instead - you'll thanks me

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Disappointment.
By bonmacaron of Surrey (1 Review)
Submitted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 7:23pm [Dine in]

I heard a lot of rave for this place! From the tasteful interior, to the mouthwatering and authentic food.. But was I in for a turn?

PROS:
- Great ambiance, it's nicely decorated. Very distressed, original. LOVE IT!
- Friendly service, always a smile on their faces, enthusiastic to please.
- Warm patio on a cold night, hurray!

CONS:
- The flavours of the dishes were ordinary, NOTHING memorable. I could get tastier and AUTHENTICALLY AUTHENTIC food for under $15!
- Portions were shockingly small. My paella was the exactly the size of a closed fist. My friend's ropa vieja seemed like a lot of food, but it was all spread out on the plate. In reality, it was very thin and flat, but with the illusion that a lot of food was given. We felt ripped off! Our dishes were about $25!
- Left the restaurant completely starving! Had to grab a hot-dog downtown! That was enjoyable.

In the end, I would never come back! Their ropa vieja was supposed to be the star of the restaurant! And if that was disappointing, I'm pretty sure everything else on the menu is at the same level.

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