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Pablo’s Havana Cafe, in Powell, is a little piece of Cuba, smack in the middle of suburban central Ohio.
Winter is in full swing, snow is on the ground, and there are no leaves on the trees. Yet, if you head over to Pablos Havana Cafe, (or at least order via Grubhub), you can pretend that you’re on a tropical island.
This small Cafe serves up “Homemade authentic Cuban food”. Their website says that they’ve been cooking and serving up these recipes for five generations now.
The restaurant itself is located on an easily accessible road directly off of Sawmill Rd, just north of Dublin, and a brisk walk’s distance from downtown Powell. There’s plenty of parking in front of the restaurant, and a large neon sign ensures the front door is easy to find. Inside the restaurant, you’re greeted with a full view of the kitchen, and seating reminiscent of a beachside outdoor cafe.
Pablo’s Havana Cafe menu is comprised of traditional Cuban cuisine. This can be anything from variations on the iconic Cuban sandwich, to dishes like Lechón or Ropa Vieja – the national dish of Cuba.
When I arrived, I had trouble choosing from several items. Did I want Ropa Vieja – the national dish of Cuba? Ropa Vieja is a dish comprised of shredded beef with peppers, served with black beans and rice. Or, did I want a Cuban sandwich? The Cuban is arguably one of the most known sandwiches in the Americas. The combination is iconic and easy to like for nearly all palettes. Roasted, shredded pork, together with mustard, honey ham, swiss cheese, and pickles are pressed between two slices of Cuban bread.
When I showed up at Pablo’s, I opted for the Cuban sandwich – since it was still close to lunchtime when I arrived. The “El Cubano”, and all the other variations on the Cuban sandwich, is either served in a half portion or a whole portion. For an additional charge, several side orders are available too, french fries, plantains served in two different styles.
The “El Cubano” sandwich is delectable. Crispy, and fluffy bread bookends roasted pork that is well-seasoned and juicy. The honey ham provides a bit of sweetness, which is offset by the mustard and pickles. I personally don’t like pickles, but this sandwich would not feel complete without them. However, it’s no biggie to leave them off the sandwich.
I also ordered a side, and a dessert. For my side, I got Tostones – plantains smashed and pressed flat, and served salted. If you’ve ever had a plantain, they’re somewhat of a half step between a Banana and a Potato. Starchy, sometimes slightly sweet (but not always), and just plain good. The Tostones that Pablo’s Cafe makes are savory, and crispy, and serve as an excellent addition to your main course.
For dessert, I ordered the Tres Leches cake. Although the flan did look tempting, I can’t resist a good cake. Tres Leches Cake is a wetter cake than many cakes you’d find in, say, a Kroger bakery. The cake is obviously moist – it’s been soaked in three different liquids – hello! But, the rich, and creamy flavor is delightful. Although I was nearly full from my “El Cubano” and my tostones – the cake beckoned. I’m glad I made room for dessert!
The pricing was exceptionally reasonable. After my Cuban sandwich ($10), side order of Tostones ($3), and Tres Leches cake ($4), I was able to have a filling meal for under $20. Pablo’s Havana Cafe does offer some limited dine-in seating, but take-out and delivery options like Grubhub are available to those who do not want to dine-in. Hours are general 11 AM to 8 PM, but they do take a short hour break between 3 PM and 4 PM to close between lunch and dinner service.
If you find yourself craving some good Cuban food, Pablo’s Havana Cafe is definitely worth a look.
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