Havana Mania in Full Swing in Redondo Beach

3615 Inglewood Ave, Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Anybody in the South Bay who is looking for a good deal probably knows already about Cuban restaurant Havana Mania on the outskirts of Redondo Beach. Open for about six years, the restaurant seems to have action every night of the week, with a wine special on Monday, Roast Pig promotion on Tuesday and live music on the weekend. The prices are also appealing to the wallet, the drinks are all potently designed to make the evening seem like a night out in Havana or Miami, and there is plenty of free parking. Décor and atmosphere is very warm and cozy, with palm trees dotted around the L-shaped restaurant.

Versailles restaurant remains the flagship for Cuban restaurants in Los Angeles, and the hard core of supporters who go there regularly would surely be equally impressed with Havana Mania. Owner Luis Montesdeoca is a prime example of how to get a restaurant running smoothly. His father opened the original Versailles, and Luis eventually drifted into the business that he seems a natural for. He puts in long hours almost every day of the week, and his personality and energy is the main reason people keep coming back for more. The three chefs have been with him from the start, and are truly cosmopolitan coming from Cuba, Mexico and Guatemala. The menu offers plenty of variety without being overloaded, but I know for a fact that Luis will go out of his way to get something special. When a difficult customer last week was desperate to try some pork chops (not on the menu), Luis went to a local market, brought them back and had them cooked Cuban style - and this was a busy Friday night.

All the classic Cuban dishes are here, so we started with Tostones Rellenos, stuffed green bananas with shrimp in creole sauce ($6.95). My dining guest loved the sauce on top, even though she is allergic to shrimp, and the taste was enthralling enough despite the lack of pungent spices in Cuban food. Marination is the key to Cuban cooking, and that came to the fore in the main course Havana Grande Platter ($23.95), more than enough food for two people. Consisting of roast pork, steak & onions, chicken breast fillet, grilled shrimp, rice, beans and bananas, the seasoning was perfect. The plantains were moist and juicy, and the steak in particular was cooked just right.

The Roast Pig night is an interesting story in itself. A 100lb pig is delivered every Monday and marinated overnight in juices that include Cuban staples like garlic and lemon, before being placed in the oven at 8.30 in the morning for eight hours. It is in then carved up into slices, with the most popular part being the crackly skin that Cubans go crazy for. The taste is what brings the crowds, and on some Tuesday’s they run out of pig by seven in the evening. A pork plate costs just $8.95 that night with the usual trimmings of white rice, black beans and plantains, and the roasting of the whole pig gives the pork that extra edge to make it taste special.

No Cuban restaurant is worth its salt without some cracking drinks, and Havana Mania is no exception. Baccardi Mojito is a good way to kick off an evening - light Bacardi rum with mint leaves, lime and sugar cone juice tantalizingly served over crushed ice with a spritz of seltzer. Equally provocative is the Havana Mania Ciclon Mojito. Ciclon is composed of 90% Bacardi Gold rum infused with 10% Blue Agave tequila and a twist of natural lime. Both cocktails are priced at $5.95, but there are plenty of others to savor on these cold California nights.

The Monday night promotion offers a free bottle of wine with the purchase of two main courses, but if you are unable to make it for dinner then maybe the lunch special at $5.95 is the perfect introduction. A choice of eight dishes at that price are complemented by six chef specials priced only slightly higher.

In summary -This is a fun place with killer drinks and generous portions of well prepared Cuban food.

Tel: 310.725.9075

Hours Monday-Thursday 11:00 am - 9.30 pm
Friday-Saturday 11:00 am - 11.00 pm
Sunday 12 pm – 9 pm
Lunch Monday-Friday 11 am - 4 pm
Saturday 12 pm - 4 pm

All major credit cards accepted
Dinner for two with wine $60
Street Parking

Havana Mania online

Mike Hepworth, January 2003

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