Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don Pepe's Habana Grill

So this last sunday Me and the Photographer went to a cuban restaurant called Don Pepes Habana Grill. I choose this place because it was a single location family owned operation, and surprisingly was close to my home as well. Since Dan did not come with us due to family events (a wedding) I will just dive right into the review.

The approach for the actual location was really easy. Its right on the corner of SR 434 and 436, in the Kohl's shopping plaza. It is its own stand alone building however, not part of the strip mall. Once we got there we found the outside of the place was designed to look like some sort old style fort in my opinion. You take a look and you tell me. Regardless, once we got inside we found the place to be kinda dark with an interesting interior style. The inside of the dining area was designed to look like the alleyway of a village, with the walls being made up to look like houses. It was rather unique. In fact, one of the support beams was made up to look like a palm tree, complete with coconuts!

So we were seated, and our waiter appeared, who was named Jason. Although he said to pronounce his name as Hasson (that's how it would be spelled as he pronounced it) and that he was the only Gringo there. Those are his words not mine keep that in mind! We placed our drink orders and waited for him to return which was fairly quick, and then ordered our food.

P1010732For appetizers I got Empandillas (pictured left), which are pastries filled with meat. I got the mixed plate so I got a couple of beef filled and a couple of chicken filled. The photographer got Chicharrones de Pollo which were like chicken tenders mixed with hot wings with a tasty Mojo sauce for dipping. That mojo sauce was amazingly good. I sadly forget what was in it however. We also ordered our actual meals at the same time. I found the Empanadillas very soft and flaky, with a tasty filling. I prefered the beef filled over the chicken but both were exceptional. I also had a piece of the Chicharrones and found that to be very good as well, and the mojo sauce went well with both actual bites of food.

For my actual meal I got a classic hispanic dish, Arroz con Pollo, which is basically chicken in a yellow spanish rice mixed with some veggies. I ordered it all White Meat due to preference, and when it came out I stared in mute amazement. It was ALOT of food. Also the chicken was still on the bone rather then chunked up like I assumed it was going to be. The chicken was moist tender and flavorful, and the rice was killer. P1010734I ended up taking half of it home and giving it to my wife, who also enjoyed it. It also came with these 2 things called maduros, which were overripened sweet fried plantains. I actually liked those! I have never had plantains before so this was a treat to be sure.

Finally, for dessert I looked to my waiter Jason, who suggested, after I told him what I was doing, to go with a truly classic cuban experience. Flan with Cafe Con Leche. So I went with it. Let me tell you, I have now discovered that I am a not a flan person. Not my thing, not at all. I didn't like the texture nor the taste. The photographer had some and assured me that it was excellent flan, but it was for sure NOT my thing. But that is of course a personal preference. The cafe con leche was very good, and I actually drank all of it, which is odd considering I am not a coffe person.

All in all I fully intend to return to Don Pepes Habana Grill, and I fully intend next time to order paella. Turns out you can special order that, takes 45 minutes to cook, and feeds like 2 people. I have always wanted to try paella. Should be fun.

Ambiance/Style - Exceptional
Service - Exceptional

Appetizer - 4
Entree - 4
Dessert - 4 (even though I personally did not like it)
Overall - 4 (Will return again!)

For more information including a menu and directions, please visit their website.

Habana Grill on Urbanspoon


Krista said...

Glad I found your blog...my mom lives in Port St. Lucie and we always spend a lot of time in Orlando when I visit...I'm always looking for new restaurants! Do you have a list of your top recommended places? That would be super handy...

inland empire restaurant and food reviews said...

Hi Dan!!Sounds like a great place!!

Foodie Writes... said...

WOW! They totally renovated that place!

I used to go there YEEAARRS ago!...
(Lake Brantley High grad, the campus of which is only a couple miles away)

The building was GOD AWFUL looking and so run down back then...
(I have memories of working at the Fazolis nearby and always seeing the building)
...but they had good food back then, and it seems they still do.

I still live in Orlando, so I might just have to make a nostalgia visit!..