Cool vibe and crispy croquettes

But the best part was the Cuban sandwich

Havana's Cuban sandwich has roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard and comes on a large loaf of bread.
  • Havana's Cuban sandwich has roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard and comes on a large loaf of bread.

I haven’t had much opportunities to try Cuban food in San Diego — a taco shop always seems to get in the way — but I was intrigued when I discovered a new Cuban restaurant open in the Gaslamp.

Havana 1920

548 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego

Havana 1920 is promoting itself as a bar/ restaurant specializing in Cuban dishes and tropical drinks featuring lots of rum. It certainly adds some variety to the neighborhood, and a good Cuban sandwich.

The bocaditos platter included turnovers, plantain chips, and croquettes.

The bocaditos platter included turnovers, plantain chips, and croquettes.

The restaurant is upstairs from Prohibition Lounge and seats about 80 people. There’s live music most nights, an acoustic duo playing Latin music the night I went there and a cool vibe.

The Daiquiri is tart and limey and can be served on the rocks or, in this case, up.

The Daiquiri is tart and limey and can be served on the rocks or, in this case, up.

The waitress wanted to seat us in front of the band, but we opted to sit in the back closer to the bar so we could talk. Oh and drink.

Ham and Cheese croquettes are crispy and creamy.

Ham and Cheese croquettes are crispy and creamy.

I knew I wanted to try the daiquiri, which comes on the rocks or up. I chose mine up, which is how Ernest Hemingway apparently liked it. I liked mine. It was nice and limey and tart but I’m not sure I tasted much alcohol ($12).

The Ropa Vieja at Havana 1920: Meat, peppers and onions stewed in a tomato sauce.

The Ropa Vieja at Havana 1920: Meat, peppers and onions stewed in a tomato sauce.

My friend ordered the Hotel Nacional ($12), which had rum and lime juice and pineapple juice and an apricot liqueur. He liked the taste but didn’t feel the overwhelming flavor of alcohol either.

The flan at Havana 1920.

The flan at Havana 1920.

We switched to beer for our food courses — a Cuban lager called Hatuey. Yes, we could taste the alcohol, and it was a food-friendly brew, and there was some food I felt friendly towards — the appetizers.

The interior of Havana 1920.

The interior of Havana 1920.

The $20 Bocadito Platter was a good starting point for exploring the menu. The fried plantain chips were thin, crispy, and addictive. There was jostling as we each tried to grab our share; the ham and cheese croquettes were crispy, creamy, and cheesy. We ordered three more at $3 each.

Havana 1920 is upstairs from Prohibition Bar in the Gaslamp.

Havana 1920 is upstairs from Prohibition Bar in the Gaslamp.

The picadillo-stuffed potato was flavorful, thanks to a filling of beef, potatoes, olives, raisins and garlic. I wish I had had the picadillo for my entree. Instead, I opted for the Ropa Vieja ($20), meat stewed with peppers and onions in a tomato sauce. It was good, but lacked the depth of the picadillo.

The best part of the meal was the Cuban Sandwich ($16). It’s a huge loaf of bread cut in three sections and filled with ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard. That sandwich ensured a return visit.

The flan was sweet and slightly caramelly, but the mango sorbet and wafers were a nice, tangy topper to the meal.

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