Solid. Not exceptional but good enough. Lots of staff and responsive service. Huge menu. Faint smell of gas/butane in the air. Not “this restaurant’s gonna blow” level of smell, but “you gotta get that checked out” kind of smell. Read on for the deets on this quick little dinner!
Cuban food is pretty hard to find in Vancouver. I haven’t tried Havana on Commercial Drive, but since it’s been taken over by Postmark/Belgard Kitchen/Vancouver Urban Winery group, I’m not sure what’s to come of it. I always thought it might be the Cuban equivalent of The Reef — a smoothed-out, shaved-off mainstream rendition of “ethnic” food. The Las Margaritas of Cuban restaurants, if you will. Well, there’s an actual hole-in-the-wall, homey Cuban restaurant on Commercial Drive now called Varadero Cafe. It’s been open since July 2017 and word-of-mouth has been promising. Moyenchow and I checked it out. If you’re into the starch-heavy, laidback seasoning that’s typical of Cuban cuisine, you’ll like this place. This small initial visit is positive.
The food at Kabsa House on Robson St. has a lot of similarities with local Persian restaurants like Zeitoon and Cazba (of which “Kabsa” is a near anagram of). There’s a focus on rice and kabobs (skewers), but with the addition of rotisserie chicken and a few other Saudi Arabian/Gulf touches. Food was generally good, but slightly higher prices and slightly smaller serving sizes means not quite enough reason to choose this place over other more established places (some of which have killer daily specials that offer even more value), unless you’re in the area or have a hankering for their moist, well-seasoned rotisserie chicken.