We were unable to locate your current position. Make sure location services is enabled or try refreshing this page.

CITYLa Habanera : A Downtown Caribbean Spot When You Need to Escape
Montreal Restaurants RestoMontreal Montreal Restaurants RestoMontreal

La Habanera : A Downtown Caribbean Spot When You Need to Escape

Mar 29, 2019
La Habanera : A Downtown Caribbean Spot When You Need to Escape

If you don't have the opportunity to escape to the south very often, there are some places here in Montreal that can make you feel like you are on vacation having a pleasant time..

Nestled in the heart of downtown, near Sainte-Catherine Street and very close to the Quartier des spectacles, LA Habanera will delight your taste buds and warm your heart. Having lived in Cuba for a while, I chose to stop by, filled with enthusiasm at the idea of rediscovering the flavours of this country.


This charming little café-bar-restaurant offers a simple but tasty cuisine, made with the island's star ingredients. Upon entering you get the sensation that you’ve discovered a local secret in Havana or upon returning from the beach. The room is immersed in a soft pink and turquoise light, harmonious and skillfully balanced. The typical decoration envelops us in a pleasant "tropical" atmosphere: patterned tiles, plants, mismatched chairs, wooden tables, and inscriptions on the wall as is found in Cuban streets.

Latin music is of course omnipresent, just enough to spread good mood and give a local touch to the dishes on the table.


The room is not very large but that is what gives the place its charm, as if a Cuban family had transformed its living room into a restaurant to welcome friends. The service is warm and efficient. Throughout the meal you can see the bartender shaking cocktails in the baroque alcove dedicated to the selection of emblematic rums (Havana Club, Diplomatico, Bacardi, Brugal...). Some guests choose to simply stop by for a drink.

We start the meal with a Pinoy Mojito cocktail composed of white rum, mango, tamarind syrup, lime juice and soda. The giant pineapple-shaped glasses awake our senses and set the tone, all that is missing is the sand under our feet.


LA habanera offers a range of small dishes at a reasonable price that can be enjoyed on a plate or as tapas to share. We choose the second option for its friendliness but also to be able to taste a maximum of dishes. The menu is tempting, the ingredients are familiar, but the mix of flavours, cooking and spices arouse our curiosity. Since we were two people, the smiling waitress advised us to take 4 or 5 tapas to share.

First off, we opt for the Ensalada de melon'melon, composed of honeydew, cantaloupe, cucumber, jalapeño, orange, pickled radishes, red onion, Thai basil, mint, coriander, escabeche cream and toasted corn. A fresh and very tangy blend, which goes perfectly with hot and spicy dishes.


We then choose two meats: Pollo a la criolla, a chicken
braised with Creole sauce and fried onions as well as masitas of puerco fritas: cut pork squares, moros (spicy rice) and maduros (plantain banana), onions, fried black beans, lime teriyaki and spices. The chicken is perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and the sauce is delicious, spicy but not too much. The generous pieces of pork are rather thick but well fried, which balances the meat flavour.


We accompany it all with an arroz frito, a base of fried rice with saffron and cooked with chorizo, maduros, egg, onions, pork and pineapple. This mixture is a complete dish on its own! It melts in your mouth and the pineapple, with its crunchy and juicy texture, brings an exotic touch. You will now have a hard time being satisfied with just simple white rice!

The menu also offers a revamped poutine with Yuca (or manioc, a root widely consumed in Latin America) to replace potatoes. Unfortunately, the restaurant was out of Yuca that evening, so we chose to try the Pizza empanada, deliciously stuffed with Chorizo, curd cheese, mozzarella, green olive purée and tomato sauce. This feels a little closer to North American cuisine, but that doesn't denote the plate.


All these tastes and flavours took us on a journey and satisfied our hunger. There is no more room for dessert, even if the condensed milk flan on the menu was calling us.

I also imagined myself having a cocktail, pushing the tables to dance and finishing the evening in a coxy, festive and improvised atmosphere. The whole spirit of Havana.


Whether for a drink or a meal, LA Habanera is a place to keep in mind to satisfy your desire to escape. Places are limited and the place is quite popular, remember to make your reservation!


See more details


More Articles...