- 3711 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines IA, IA, 50312
- Overall User Rating:
- (3 ratings)
- 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Preliminary visit — not yet rated.
A few years ago, a reader asked me to direct him to “the best Cuban restaurant in town.” I was tempted to say something like: “Sure — go to the corner of McKinley and Fleur. You’ll see some planes. Take one to Miami.”
Because, you see, there were no Cuban restaurants in town (restaurants serving Cuban sandwiches don’t count).
These days, I have a less smarty-pants answer. If you’re hankering for a Caribbean-focused menu in general, with some Cuban dishes in particular, the newly opened Copa Cavana is about the only place you’ll find it.
Who/What: As reported by Michael Morain in the Register earlier this month, the quartet of co-owners are Americans who come from an array of international roots. Faisal Samara was born in Nicaragua to a Cuban mother and a Palestinian father, while Ankur Amin’s family is from India and Katintha Mwanza’s is from Zambia The fourth co-owner, Belefia “Lou” Parks, hails from Chicago.
Ambience: In spite of fresh paint, an Island-themed mural and comfortable booths, there’s no mistaking this place for anything other than the movie-theatre-cum-dinner-theater it once was. However, the spot also operates as a nightclub. I imagine a room full of dancing, drinking, dressed-to-party people will bring the place alive.
Menu: In spite of the owners’ far-reaching cultural backgrounds, the restaurant is not a global hodgepodge, but rather, focuses on Caribbean-inspired appetizers, sandwiches, salads and (after 5 p.m.) entrées. Some items seem like bar-grill favorites, tweaked with island flair (e.g.: Havana appetizer wings, Cuban quesadilla, potato skins loaded with roasted pork and mojo sauce). Others seem more island-embedded — the Lechon Asado (marinated roast pork in Cuban spices) and Costillas a la Cubana (pork ribs in a sweet pineapple marinade), for instance.
First Bites: The Media Noche (midnight) sandwich brings the ingredients of a classic Cuban sandwich (roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles) on a rich, eggy and soft bread. It’s beautifully grilled for a crispy-on-the-outside, oozy-on-the- inside treat.
The Havana Wings appetizers were good in the hot-and-spicy way most appetizer wings satisfy. Chips with queso dip were standard; better yet was the tomato-mango salsa our eager server let us try on the side. Less successful were the tough, chewy-to-a-fault pork ribs. A classic “tres leche” (three milk) cake proved a super-moist, not overly sweet finish.
Keep in Mind: I visited just two days after a soft opening; nevertheless, some items were successful, which bodes well for future visits.