Mi Habana Cafe
712 Main St.
Corona, CA 92882
Corona is not a place one thinks of when it come to great restaurants. Culinarily, speaking the city has given us some bland Mexican food in Miguel's and chain restaurants on almost every corner. So when we were going to be meeting up with our good friend Anthony and his mediocre wife Sabrina, I wanted to find a place that was different, and not a chain restaurant. That is how we happened to arrive at Mi Habana Cafe.
Mi Habana Cafe is hidden in a corner of a large, almost desolate shopping center. Sabrina and Anthony have lived here for a long while and never even knew this place existed. You have to almost be looking for this restaurant because it is not easily seen from Main Street. Since 2007 this has been home to this little slice of Havana in Corona. It is owned by a man named Martin, who had two Cuban restaurants, one in Downey, not far from Porto's, and the other was in Huntington Beach. He sold those and settled here. Let's see if this will cure my craving for great Cuban food.
First off is a quick shot of our bread basket. This was just your standard bread here. Not served warm or anything, with pads of butter.
We ordered two appetizers, the first one being the Yuca Al Mojo. This was yucca root steamed in a garlic sauce. This starchy item had very subtle flavor, but was called delicious by first time yucca eater, Anthony. I liked this yucca, but was not floored by it. It needed a little something extra.
The second appetizer was something I was a little more familiar with, the Empenda de Carne. This meat pie was a great price, $2.25, and the inside beef was seasoned well and satisfying. The crust was nothing to get excited about, and was a little on the dry side.
Both Katie and Sabrina's dinners came with soup or salad. They both went the salad route. This was your basic dinner salad. Again, nothing to out of the ordinary here.
Both Sabrina and Katie got the same meal, the Arroz Con Pollo. This Cuban favorite combined chicken, yellow rice and Sofrito sauce together to make a very flavorful meal. This was a little more on the soupy side than we were expecting, but it was spiced well, and big on flavor. Katie summed it up best by calling this, "Cuban comfort food at its best." This was served scalding hot. It had to sit for a few minutes before they attempted eating this.
The Ropa Vieja was calling Anthony's name. This shredded beef dish was served in a classic red sauce. This pot roast type dish was very flavorful and featured very tender meat. Anthony could not have been more pleased by this. This was served with black beans and rice, along with plantains. The plantains were not his cup of tea, but he did enjoy the rice.
The last time I ate at a Cuban restaurant I ordered a beef dish, and I was disappointed. So this time I went with a pork dish, and I struck out again. This Pierna De Puerco Asada was bone dry. The pork leg was served with garlic and mojo cubano, along with onions. It was as dry as my Dad's humor, and that is very dry! Just kidding Pops! The black beans and rice helped the dryness a little bit, but I would not get this again.
I would have been more upset with my meal, but I also ordered this Media Noche sandwich. This sandwich came with roasted pork and ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mayo, and mustard, all on a toasted sweet bread. This has been the closest sandwich we have been able to find to the one we had in Miami. The meats were salty, mixed with the sweetness of the pickles and bread, it resulted in a well balanced sandwich. The only thing that would have made it better, was a little more mustard and mayo, but it was still worth ordering.
By this time I was pretty stuffed to the gills, but I was in a Cuban restaurant, with an amazing looking bakery case, so I had to get the Tres Leches Cake. This cake was really pretty good. It was moist, without being overly so. Some tres leches I have had are almost on the border of being called soup. This one was nice and firm, with a great sweet flavor. We would definitely get this again.
Mi Habana Cafe is probably the best Cuban restaurant we have been to so far. There is a new Cuban place in Costa Mesa that is on our list to try, and I hear good things, but so far this has been the best. Everyone with the exception of myself loved what they ordered. This restaurant is huge. It can easily seat about 150 people no problem, and the service here was great, very friendly, (even to Sabrina). They seem to cater to lots of big families. We got here at 8 on a Saturday night and they were pretty busy with about two parties of fifteen or more. The decor is not going to make you fall in love with this place, but the good Cuban food might. See, there are some decent, non-chain places to eat in Corona.
Out of five guitars, (because Fender Musical Instruments is headquartered in Corona, not far from this restaurant), five being best to zero being worst, Mi Habana Cafe gets 3 guitars.
For more information about Mi Habana Cafe, click here: http://www.mihabanacafe.com/index.html