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Best Cuban San Francisco 2004 - Habana

Fantasy is at play here in both the overwrought but pleasing d?cor, meant to evoke a pre-Castro 1948 Havana, and the cooking, which is more Nuevo Latino, strictly speaking, than Cuban. But who cares when everything looks and tastes so good? The bar features "hand-crafted Cuban cocktails" such as Mojitos and Hemingway daiquiris. Several ceviches are always on hand, made from pillowy-soft scallops, firm shrimp, and white-fleshed fish, along with chopped fruits, mint, and floods of lemon and lime juice. Specialties like ropa vieja, picadillo, and enchiladas have been reinterpreted by chef Joseph Kohn. He serves plantain-crusted tuna with black bean sauce and mashed plantains with bacon, onions, and crème fraîche; saut?ed pork medallions in a light tomato sauce, sided with yams combined with the bananalike fufu; and marinated skirt steak and braised beef ragout (ropa nueva), which comes with a pur?e of another tuber reminiscent of the sweet potato, boniato. The tropical theme continues with such desserts as coconut flan, warm banana tart, and baked pineapple crisp.

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