Habana, a beloved restaurant among locals to Costa Mesa for over 20 years, just opened a new location in Irvine. This lavish new spot opened its doors to the public a couple months ago and after scoping out the images of the design on Google, I couldn’t turn down an invite to taste their brunch.

Executive Chef Alex Moreno tells me that this has been a 3-year long project to get the second location running, but good things come to those who wait!

708 Spectrum Center Drive, Irvine, CA 92618

Executive Chef Alex Moreno and I

When you first walk in, you can’t help but notice the color pop of the turquoise bar with its grand chandelier- perfect for this Cuban restaurant. The decor makes you feel like you have been transported into another time, very different from the more cookie-cutter spots of the OC. The dining room is so colorful with a lot of pastels and the presentation of the food accentuates the level of liveliness.

On Saturday, January 14th 2018, they will publicly begin their Sunday brunch buffet. My senses were overwhelmed with the sheer amount of food that had been spread out over the many tables. One station allowed you to have a classic omelet prepared to your liking. Another station was covered with fresh seafoods, such as shrimp and crab and ceviche as a separate option. The ceviche was mixed with Mahi Mahi, Spanish Octopus, baby shrimp and a spritz of citrus. The central station had Pollo Asado (roasted chicken) that takes 36 hours to prepare.

Plantains, Lechon, Chicharon, Pollo Asado, Ropa Vieja, Tamale, En Cazuela, and Roasted Cauliflower

Options for sides include roasted cauliflower, which was smoky and sweet with a hint of spice. One of my favorite dishes was the Ropa Vieja (shredded beef) which reminded me of a Filipino dish called Beef Asado (a family favorite of mine!) The meat is tender and the flavor is a blend of tomato, pepper, salt and some secret spices. Another favorite dish of mine was the Lechon (a traditional marinated and roasted pig chock-full of flavor). Who serves Lechon during brunch? Habana does! They have won me over with this delicacy. I am used to the Filipino style, where the Lechon skin is fairly crispy. This Lechon skin was a little more tender but still impressive.

Berries of Elegance of the dessert station

I am really impressed with this restaurant and you’ll be happy to know that this packed brunch is only $38.00 exclusively on Sundays. Non-alcoholic beverages are included, but for the good stuff, there are extra charges. I would suggest you go early to avoid the crowd. You are definitely getting your money’s worth for the amount of food you will be getting as well as the mouthwatering options to choose from.

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