Havana 1957 Opens in Brickell, Hosts Grand Opening This Thursday

When Brickell Irish Pub unexpectedly closed two months ago, happy-hour-goers were crushed. V&E Restaurant Group, which was behind the Irish outpost, thought something more Miami would be a better fit for the location.

"This area lacks a good home-style Cuban restaurant," general manager Sandra Perez says. "We have two other Havana 1957 locations in South Beach and thought with Brickell booming, it was the perfect setting for us to be in."

The new Havana 1957 will host its grand opening this Thursday, January 9. To introduce itself to the neighborhood, it's doing what any celebrating Cuban does: throwing a party. We previewed some of their offerings. Check out the pictures after the jump.

See also: Brickell Irish Pub to Close, Havana 1957 to Open in its Place

During the grand opening, Mayor Tomás Regalado will make an appearance and host a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event will feature samples from Havana 1957's extensive menu, drinks (mojitos!), and Cuban-style music.

With more than 70 rums, the restaurant will house the most extensive mojito bar in the city. And during happy hour, daily from 4 to 8 p.m., you can drink any of their 14 mojitos -- such as the mojicoco or the mangojito -- for only $4.95. The bar bites menu also features cocktails, frozen daiquiris, and appetizers for the same price.

But if you feel like experiencing un dia en la habana, check out Havana 1957 for lunch or dinner. The prices are reasonable, and the portions are true to Cuban cuisine. Choose from traditional dishes such as vaca frita, ropa vieja, masitas de puerco, croquetas, tostones rellenos con picadillo, and palomilla a la plancha.

During our visit, we started with sopa de pollo ($4.95) with a squeeze of lime. It's good for the soul and your taste buds.

The restaurant manager talked up Havana 1957's specialty so much that we had to try it.

To make this dish, they marinate chicken for three days in a secret and savory Cuban gravy that contains soy sauce and orange juice. Then it's roasted to perfection. The meat is so tender it falls of the bone. It's served in a cazuela alongside maduros, white rice, salad, and black beans ($11.95).

Havana 1957 has two other locations, which get their sweet goodies from a "viejita" who makes them in her home. Here, there's flan, tres leches, and guava cheesecake ($6.95). We ordered the last. Besides its beautiful presentation, the dish delivered on flavor. The cheese wasn't too sweet, so it made for a nice contrast with the guava and crust.

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