Havana’s famous Cuban Sandwich
Havana Restaurant, originally opened in 1976, is an Atlanta culinary tradition and the first to bring a full Cuban menu to the restaurant scene in Atlanta. Havana has been named one of four of Atlanta restaurant survivors along with the Varsity, Collanade and Pano’s & Pauls. For quick take-out or a unique break from your culinary routine, Havana serves up great tasting sandwiches, combos and sides that won’t break the bank. The restaurant is nestled among a large number of international eateries and retail shops along the International Corridor.
A Little Cuban Culinary History
In 1962, Eddie Benedit Sr. and his family came from Cuba to the United States. They literally arrived with “only the clothes on their backs.” Some years later, Eddie Sr. decided that he wanted to open a Cuban restaurant. The Benedit Family opened their original eatery on Buford Highway on February 9, 1976. All the dishes served at the restaurant originate from Ms. Benedit’s late husband Eddie Benedit Sr. and his family.
I remember eating at the original Havana Restaurant many years ago when it was located at the corner of Buford Highway and North Druid Hills Road. In 2008, the original location was destroyed in a fire. Not much survived the fire, except an original Cuban flag (on display at their new location) and the family recipes. The Benedit family decided to relocate their new location in the CrossRoads Shopping center at the intersection of Buford Highway and Clairmont Road, so the family tradition continues to live on in its new home.
Back to the Food…
Havana is conveniently located in a shopping center right off Buford Highway, a few miles off of I-85. Judging by many of the clients wearing suits and ties, it attracts a lot of nearby office workers, but the restaurant is definitely casual dining. Expect cafeteria-style dining, where orders are placed at the front and food is called up when ready. Many of the tables and chairs are grouped together to encourage visitors to “make new friends.”
Havana gets very busy at lunch, but the service is excellent and meals are prepared and served quickly. The restaurant has won countless awards over the years, which line the walls along with some paintings and memorabilia from Cuba, while modern Salsa music plays in background.
I had their famous ½ Cuban sandwich for lunch, along with a side of yellow rice and black beans. The sandwich had all the classic ingredients of pork, ham, white cheese, pickles and mustard, and tasted fantastic. The rice and beans sides helped make for a fulfilling lunch.
Overall, it was a quick, tasty meal that was not very expensive. Other sides available include tamales, yucca frita, maduros (fried plantains), empanadas, Cuban bread and others. Sandwich options include steak, roast beef, turkey, chicken salad, grilled chicken and a couple others. They have a number of lunch plates available that include rice and bean soup, while dinner is also served with salad and bread.
– Barry Stepe
Marketing & Communications Manager
DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau¬¬¬