The last few months, I’ve been looking for a replacement for my papas rellanas (potato ball) fix which is usually satified by a trip to Porto’s Bakery in Burbank. Beside the original location in Glendale, Porto’s doesn’t have plans to open a location in Orange County any time soon. This is sadly noted by my editor, also a potato ball aficionado who claims to have eaten at least 8 potato balls in one sitting — a feat for any woman and I’m sure, more than fulfills one’s daily requirement for meat and potatoes.
Rather than drive 40 miles into Porto’s territory and trudge through traffic, an alternative is Havana Mania.
Havana Mania, a family-owned restaurant, has two locations: Redondo Beach and Brea. Brea is luckily a short driving distance of my workplace. But a convenient, a fast cafe like Porto’s it is not. It is a sit down restaurant nicely decorated with daily lunch specials and live music in the evening. But down the business, what about their potato balls?
Havana Mania’s potato balls are found in the appetizer segment of the menu. Two are served for $4.99 with ranch dressing. These potato balls are signifantly larger than the ones I’m familiar with. The exterior is lightly breaded but the seasoning for the ground meat seemed to be lacking an essential ingredient that gave it a little punch. Garlic? Pepper? I couldn’t put a finger on it. Overall, a passable potato ball especially in times of need.
What Havana Mania lacked in their potato balls, they more than made up for in their entrees. The filete de pollo con camarones (chicken topped with garlic shrimp) was outstanding. The chicken, which I usually find overcooked in many places when filleted, was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The garlic shrimp was a nice accompaniment while the black beans and rice happily filled my belly to maximum capacity.
Other entrees include arroz with pollo (chicken with rice — my favorite Cuban dish), lechon cubano (roast pork) as well as a variety of sandwiches. The rest of the menu can be found here.
Up next: a descent into potato ball madness.