Image: In case you forget to tell your friends where you went.
UPDATE: Little Havana closed. It is now Anafre, also by Alfredo Solis.
First Visit: June 2019
Little Havana recently had a near-death experience. Chef/Owner Alfredo Solis was ready to throw in the towel on the concept, and he went so far as to announce it. At the same time, Tom Sietsema came out with his Spring Dining Guide where he listed the restaurant in his top ten new places (and maintained its 2.5 Star rating). Apparently, Tom himself reached out to Solis and encouraged him to not give up on Little Havana. Solis subsequently announced he was giving the place a six-month reprieve to see if he can make the finances work.
The food is Cuban, but, as the website says, pulling from influences all over Latin America. Anything braised or stewed is a good bet. The chicken in tomato and the pork shank in a rich brown reduction both were falling off the bone with flavor galore. The sandwiches looked tasty, but I did not try them on this trip. The Yucca fries were light with a flaky exterior and served with a slighly-spicy aioli. The bread pudding had heavy vanilla accents and not a gut-bomb like other versions. It should also be noted that Little Havana is serving entrée-sized plates at downtown-tapas prices.
The service is bustling and friendly. The kitchen can fall behind, which is important to know because the drinks are strong. Drink that Mojito too fast before you get something in your stomach, and it might go straight to your head. The setting is casual with bright murals to set the tone. There are a few tables outside. The kitchen is open and in the back. The night I visited, the words to “Life Is A Carnival” by Celia Cruz were written on a door on the way to the restrooms.
For those willing to make the trek to this stretch of 14th Street on the north side of Columbia Heights, you will be glad Solis didn’t pack it in. If you enjoy it as much as I (and Tom) did, be sure to tell your friends.
Other Guidance: Dress is casual, strollers can randomly appear. Pescatarians will find an easier go of it than vegetarians, but there are some options. It looks like GF can also find a decent amount to work with.
Rating: Worth Taking a Walk
Cuisine: Latin American (Cuban)
Neighborhood: Columbia Heights
Address: 3704 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010
Washington Post: 2.5 but almost stretching it to 3.0.
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