When out-of-town relatives pay the occasional weekend visit, Gothamist is happy to play tour guide to the culinary and cultural delights of our fine city. But sometimes even the best-laid restaurant plan can fall apart on a technicality, forcing us to improvise. For instance, two weekends ago, we had planned a grand tour of The Gates and a little museum-going, but first we needed a hearty brunch to start the day. It was a cold, windy Sunday, only 10:15am (those out-of-towners are quite the early risers) when we arrived at Public, only to discover that it wasn't scheduled to open until 11am! Already hungry, and now freezing cold, we looked around and spotted Cafe Habana.
The first thing we noticed was that it was open; the next, that some people were congregated outside the tiny little place, thereby vouching for its quality (or so was Gothamist's wish). We didn't know much about this place, besides the fact that it was available and reasonably priced, so we jumped at the opportunity to step in the from cold and give it a try.
Once inside, Gothamist and family were seated into a snug little booth. We were lucky to have gotten the central location we did, as those who were seated in the back corner of the cafe seemed somewhat trapped by the waitstaff and the constant movement of diners who needed to make use of the one bathroom, cleverly hidden away behind a Virgin of Guadalupe bamboo curtain.
The food at Cafe Habana is a mix of Mexican and Cuban (the name "Cafe Habana" itself refers to a Mexico City cafe, in fact). But for brunch, they also offer typical American options like French toast and omelettes. Gothamist got a chance to taste the chilaquiles with green sauce and black beans on the side as well as the brioche French toast with fresh fruit. Both were delicious and rather reasonably priced (the brunch entrees range from $5.75 to $8.50). We'll definitely be paying another visit in the near future, if only to try the Cuban sandwich and the Mexican-style corn on the cob ($3.50), which is grilled, slathered in cheese, and doused with lime.
The place is tiny and fills up fast, so Gothamist recommends this specifically for an earlier-than-usual brunch, although once the spring weather arrives, waiting outside a bit for a table won't be so bad anyway.
Cafe Habana, 17 Prince St., (at Elizabeth St.). Phone: 212-625-2002.