The Budget: $6-$12
The Specs: Grilled Corn Mexican Style
The Mood: Little Mexico meets Cuba
The Place: 229 Elizabeth Street
When I tell you that you can eat brunch at Cafe Habana for $6, I’m not talking about eating a side of bacon and calling it a day. You can order a meal and fill yourself up here for $6. Welcome to one of the cheapest brunch spots in New York City. It’s an authentic Mexican-Cuban style meal, and it’s good. It also has the seal of approval from my former roommate who had just come from a flight from visiting family in Mexico, so it’s the real deal.
Maybe it was because I came in on a Monday, but I breathed a sigh of relief when I opened the door and walked through the curtain here. It felt like a safe haven, a place in New York that was not going to rush you to your table and stare at you while you eat until you pay the tip and leave. The servers were relaxed and friendly. They were here to hang out with the rest of us.
I can’t speak for the other locations (yet), but this spot in SoHo is adorably small. There’s an entirely different space next door reserved for takeout and coffee to keep it less crowded (genius). We’ve got some palm branches painted on the walls and hearts painted on the windows (Valentine’s Day is in February, so I think they’re just really feeling the love here).
On to the food.
2 Eggs any Style ($5.95)
You don’t believe me? More food for me. This dish is normally $6, normally meaning it usually comes with toast instead of plantains. So I guess if you’re not eating gluten, you have to fork over an extra $ (and all your bread). You get two eggs cooked to your liking, Mexican-style home fries, and toast.
Grilled Corn Mexican Style ($7.95)
Maybe it’s not your traditional omelette and hash browns, but you absolutely cannot leave Cafe Habana without first trying their grilled corn. Squeeze some live over this corn grilled with mayo, cotija cheese, and chili powder. It’s served on a small bed of greens to help keep the spice down when you get to that hefty row of chili powder. Man, these cobs are good.
Cafe Habana was started by Sean Meenan, who has built a brand based on community. He has also started a non-profit organization, Habana Works, offering neighbors and residents environmental education programs.
Come in for a cheap bite, and know you’re helping build a community in the process. That’s something I can sink my teeth into.
Put a fork in it.