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Salsa Havana

Okay, I’m getting tired of walking into hip-looking places with mediocre food. Such classic example is Salsa Havana over at Howell Mill Rd. You walk into this nice looking place with brightly-painted walls showcasing local art for sale, cozy pleathered-booths, painted concrete floors, and you’re thinking, wow, the food must be as good as the look-and-feel of the place. Not. My first disappointment came in the form of a cheese dip that resembled what my 10-year old nephew would make at home — bland, store-bought cheese with way too much milk added to it. Add to that the teeth-shattering, almost-stale tortilla chips and you have one of the worst cheese dip-and-chips combo I’ve ever had.

But let’s not stop there. The chicken taco on a hard flour tortilla was quite dry that adding two kinds of grated cheeses on top did not help at all. The mushy, canned peas and carrots side made matters worse — over-cooked gray peas and carrots which was devoid of any flavor (trust me, my pro camera was that good to render the picture so appetizing, but in real life, it didn’t look edible at all). They should have used the frozen kind; at least, it would’ve been bright in color.

Saving graces: the roasted chicken was flavorful, moist, and tender, I give them that; but it was so ordinary tasting. It came with rice and black beans and I admit the black beans were quite good. Probably the only thing worth ordering is the fake boliche. I call it fake because boliche is sausage (chorizo) stuffed beef roast. Salsa’s version is a prime rib stew that was really flavorful with two chunks of prime rib: one was fork-tender and the other one was gnawingly-tough (what is it with this place?) It came with rice, black beans and yucca pieces.

The verdict: totally disappointing. Would I ever go back again — probably not — but if I did, I’d probably get the boliche again. Oh, and to top off one of my not-so-good lunches, the service was soooo slooooow. There were two servers (Howell Mill location) with 3 tables occupied (each with two people each) yet they took their time clearing dishes, refilling drinks, and bringing the check.

Insider tip:
Avoid peak times, else, you’d be in there forever.

The scoop:
Salsa Havana
Two locations (open daily from 11AM):
749 Moreland Ave SE
Atlanta, GA 30316
(404) 624-3105

2020 Howell Mill Rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

Salsa Havana on Urbanspoon

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Craving a Cuban // Jul 19, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Couldn’t disagree with you more. The cuban sandwich is truly amazing, and the fish tacos are high on my list as well. Sounds like you ordered the wrong stuff.

  • 2 Foodie // Sep 9, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    I also disagree with this article. My coworkers and I eat here twice a week for lunch. The food is excellent. I like the Salsa Trio, the queso, guacamole, the tacos (worth it to pay extra for homemade corn tortillas), and ALL the lunch specials (except maybe wednesday’s chicken dish). The service is good, even though it gets a little slow during peak hours. I really enjoy this restaurant and would recommend to anyone.

  • 3 Friendly Neighbor // Mar 14, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Perhaps you should give this place another shot. I think you couldn’t be more wrong. My husband and I LOVE this place. It’s a great neighborhood restaurant and the service is fabulous. The mango margaritas are some of the best in town and the various types of tacos are inventive and filled with flavor. It has become one of our weekly staples! On Friday nights they even have live music. Sit in the bar area for a better experience. The other side of the restaurant tends to be covered with families which isn’t all bad if you have kids, but if you are looking for a romantic night out, the bar area is definitely the place to be.

  • 4 Kelly // Apr 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    NOT GOOD, NOT GOOD, NOT GOOD‎ – ‎ – 2010-04-22
    Went there tonight and was SOOOOOO dissapointed. I had been there a few years ago and loved it. I don’t know if it’s a different chef or different owner or what….but, it was too hot inside the restaurant and the food tasted processed or frozen. When I told the waitress she brought something else but was very apathetic about it and offered nothing off the bill.
    I will NEVER go there again!

  • 5 mike // Dec 28, 2010 at 11:36 am

    WHAT? Im surprised to read this review, I truly believe its blasphemy. I think the queso is great, and I can guarantee its not store bought, its the real stuff, maybe this guy is just used to store bought. The tacos, the churrasco, the everything is great! i love the service too, laid back, fun, family atmosphere. I cant stand people that post online with these dreams and aspirations of being a food critic, SALSA HAVANA IS A FANTASTIC RESTAURANT, i eat there atleast twice a month, and will continue too, i reccommend it to everyone.

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