August 01, 2014 Jounieh Keserwan Lebanon Middle East

Habana: Favorite Worst Nightmare (Restaurant Closed)

2.8 out of 5 based on 1 professional review.

RATING:56/100

Welcoming: 4/5

Food Temperature: 8/10

Ambiance / Music: 4.5/10

Menu Choice: 4/5

Food Taste: 15/30

Architecture / Interior: 7/10

Food presentation: 5/10

Service: 6/10

Value for money: Soon

Two years, two long years, waiting to come back to my favorite Mexicano. Habana, the one and only Habana, the special restaurant that became famous by word of mouth... no marketing campaigns, just good food, good drinks and good service... up until tonight! Utter shock...

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Habana, has been around for years, they’re an institution. They have been serving their loyal customers for more than a decade now… People always come back. The vibes inside this old house with its authentic old colonial touch, huge old bricks, green window shutters are very upbeat and positive. Look around the dimly lit space with normal height tables, high tables and high chairs, a bar area where barmen are busy shaking the cocktail of your choice… the sizzling sound of Fajita dishes passing by …all the intricate sounds add a tempo to the loud Latino music that will keep you moving your hips even while sitting down.

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The place's decor:

  • Inside this old Lebanese house the floor is covered with stone pavement
  • A large space under brick tiles with a ceiling decorated with while fabrics moving from side to side
  • "Tonight's desserts" are written on a blackboard occupying the house's wall, to your right and tonight's special are written on a bigger board facing the entrance. You have to look up to find them
  • In the middle of this large space is a table looking like a bar surrounded by high stools where a party of a dozen can fit easily. It is lit with a lantern of bottles hanging from above
  • To the right, is the bar area, the section that made Habana famous, where margaritas and cocktails are freshly prepared
  • Wooden tables and bamboo chairs fill the space and are decorated with a candle in their center
  • One thing has changed or has been added: the open terrace, occupying the back end of the restaurant
  • Bamboo curtains block curious looks from outside

At Habana, the ambiance is still the same but I can't say the same about the food or service. Tonight, accompanied by my wife and her parents, two different generations decided to revisit Habana. We came here to re-live the old days, enjoy some margaritas, the famous fajitas and last but not least, the cheese nachos. As we sat awaiting to be served, we ordered a pitcher of frozen lemon margarita. Not the best first impression, we all agreed that the drink used to be better. Afterwards came order time. I asked four times and repeated insisting that I will only be ordering chicken if it doesn't contain garlic, and the waiter kept on repeating that they do not use garlic at Habana. I can simply prepare you for the worse, the chicken contained an overload of garlic which made me sick all week.

Habana_Restaurant_Jounieh4 The menu:

  • Entradas
  • Ensaladas
  • Platos Mexicanos
  • Especiales
  • Postres
  • Fajitas
  • Dips and extras
  • Tonight's specials

I ordered all of the following to make sure that all plates were to be shared: nachos with cheese, taquitos, quesadillas, mixed fajitas, burger and the degustationes platter. Let's eat:

  • Starting with the nachos LBP15,500: A small round plate covered with large nacho triangles landed in front of us. Crispy nachos topped with hardened melted cheese and seasoned with paprika. Good but the portion should be bigger, like it used to be at Hard Rock Cafe or like Chili's still serves it.

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  • Pino Bajito LBP29,500: Half a pineapple is emptied and filled with pineapple cubes, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and garlic grilled chicken strips mixed in a light-bodied yogurt sauce. It would have been a good salad if only the garlic was not covering all the other flavors. I enjoyed the aftertaste of the grilled chicken and its juiciness as well as the sweetness those pineapples provided.

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  • Shrimps Quesadillas LBP19,500: Two soft flour tortilla sandwiches filled with shrimps, cheese and vegetables served with guacamole, sour cream and mashed beans on the side. A tasty and simple order.

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  • Taquitos LBP16,500: Seven fingers, crunchy like a biscuit, crumble under your teeth like crushed ice in a blender. Dip in the cheddar sauce and enjoy a blend of different textures and flavors. Deep fried rolls filled with spicy strips of turkey that are enjoyable.

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  • Degustationes LBP31,500: That's a flop. A combination of enchilada de pollo (soft corn tortilla filled with chicken, cheese and onions), veggie quesada (grilled flour tortilla filled with cheese, onions, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, fresh mushrooms) and tacos California ( corn tortilla with Californian meat, refried beans, sour cream and guacamole). Nothing in this dish is worth ordering. Chewy tacos, over saturated with garlic, bad rice... A huge big no, that I advise you to avoid.

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  • Hamburgesa LBP29,500: In few words, this burger contains way too much bread which covers on all the other ingredients. The cocktail sauce, on the other hand, contains too much ketchup adding an overdose of sweetness you don't want to feel in a burger that has a good piece of beef. The potato skins were undercooked.

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  • Fajita LBP167,000: We ordered one single order of mixed fajita and received something that cost enough for four. Thank God, I have the habit of taking a photo of the bill and what I discovered later on is called stealing. One plate of mixed fajita was charged at LBP167,000. Yes, this plate you can see above was charged as four portions and it doesn't contain more than one. A portion of beef fajita for LBP 39,500, chicken for 39,500, chicken and beef again for LBP42,500 and a fourth of shrimps for LBP45,500. Yes, this little pan cost $112. If you plan on visiting Habana, pay attention before paying the bill.

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Mentioning the garlic issue, we only received, "Sorry, I didn't know about the marinade", in way of a reply. Nothing was done about this incident except receiving four shots of something that tastes like cough syrup.

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Let's see about desserts. So I ordered a specialty and was advised to  try the banana. Banana Habana (LBP12,500) are pan-fried bananas with triple sec and lime sauce served with vanilla ice cream. A banana cut in four served with ice cream and the sauce... An overdose of sugar and butter. One single bite was enough to block my appetite. Definitely a big no.

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The food has become bad, portions stingy, service average and prices that just don’t make sense... and you end up paying for things you didn't order. Unfortunately this was the last and final review on Habana, a place that seems to have started the descent. Habana, Sarba: +961 9 638166




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