Havana Hideaway, Lake Worth, FL: A Restaurant Review

The Havana Hideaway may make you do a double take. It’s as if a beach dive bar has been magically transported from some Bahamanian backwater to downtown Lake Worth, FL, a funky, low-rise commercial center that doesn’t seem to have changed much since the 1950s.

There’s a little shack of a bar next to a sandy open air dining area dotted with rickety tables and a few palapa-shaded picnic tables, which screen the joint from the sidewalk where more picnic tables accommodate the overflow. And make no mistake, this is a popular joint.

At the back of the dining area sits a “food truck called Wanda,” a funky old chow wagon that turns out some of the best beach grub in Florida, or anywhere else for that matter.

The Hideaway has long had a loyal local following, but now it draws an international

The food truck called Wanda.

clientele thanks to having been enshrined on Guy Fieri’s popular Food Network program Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. And the management has taken notice.

They have made it easy for fans of Triple-D, as Fieri calls the show (and I confess that I am one) to sample the dishes Fieri featured during his visit to the joint. The “Get What Guy Got Platter” shamelessly capitalizes on the restaurant’s new-found notoriety. This sampler showcases the pionono, the fish taco, and the Cuban sandwich and it proves an excellent introduction to the peculiar culinary charms of the Hideaway.

The sampler features the pionono, the fish taco, and the Cuban sandwich.

The pionono is described as a sort of tropical lasagna and that’s not far off; it’s a layered mixture of tender plantains and ground beef and it’s tasty enough with the addition of a few shots of readily available hot sauce. The fish taco is a competent example of the genre, with a nice mango salsa adding a touch of class.

I didn’t think I’d care for the Cuban sandwich, since I knew it contained a generous layer of pickle slices and I’m not a big pickle fancier. But there’s also ham, garlicky house-made pulled pork, and cheese on a well buttered bun that’s grilled to compact perfection with the aid of a heavy brick on top. It was my favorite of the three.

They also serve empanadas, with a featured one each day. Barbecued chicken was the feature the day I visited and it was excellent.

As good as the food may be the ambiance makes it seem even better. The place likes to call itself a Cigar Bar, so you may find the air perfumed with the stench, er, the delicate aroma of a Macanudo or two. Non-smoker that I am, I still like the idea of a place where people have the freedom to light up and savor a good or even a not so good cigar. Perhaps in more enlightened times to come they’ll actually be able to smoke exports from the Hideaway’s namesake.

With a cold beer, a full house and balmy weather, the Havana Hideaway makes a great place to kick back, relax, and bide your time until you’re ready for another one of those great Cuban sandwiches.

It’s also extremely convenient to Interstate 95, so there’s really no excuse for not stopping by when you’re whizzing to or from Miami. Take Exit 65, turn east, then immediately south and turn left when you reach Lake Avenue. Havana Hideaway is at number 509, on your right.

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