Get a taste of Havana at new Cuban restaurant

Esquina Havana opened on a Friday night in October. On its first night, the restaurant had customers lined up outside, said owner Alberto Ginarte.

People came for the ropa vieja (a staple in Cuba consisting of shredded stewed beef) and fresh pressed sugar cane juice. This is one of the only places in Upstate New York where you’ll find the unique drink.

“We have a lot of stuff that isn’t found around here,” Ginarte said.

Esquina Havana or “Havana Corner,” is on the corner of Burnet Avenue and Catherine Street at 324 Burnet. Open every day but Monday from noon to 7 p.m., the restaurant has a pending liquor license and eventually will offer live music on Friday and Saturday nights with expanded hours.

Ginarte emigrated from Cuba and settled in Syracuse in 2002. He also owns Tu Bodega, a corner store on Butternut Street on the city’s North Side, since 2013.

Visitors will find authentic dishes on the menu including pernil (slow-cooked pork shoulder), maduros (fried ripe plantains), arroz congris (black beans and rice), stewed chicken and lamb, yucca root and boniato, a Cuban sweet potato. The restaurant offers orders to go or sit-down style in the dining room. Ginarte plans to offer delivery soon.