Jimmy & Diana Torres have never been to Cuba. You’d never know it by walking into their Havana Kitchen in Murrieta. Set inside an industrial park, its exterior appearance is deceiving. Step inside, however and you’ll see a tastefully decorated space with rich wood tables, Cuban mementos and posters and savory smells from the kitchen. Jimmy’s parents fled Cuba after Castro took power. He was born in Los Angeles and moved to Murrieta in 2002 and opened a Cuban catering business.
Every item on the menu originated with Jimmy’s mother or grandmother. They are authentic Cuban recipes, savory and full of spice, but not spicy hot. Of course you’ll find Cuban sandwiches made with tender roast pork, ham, mustard and Mojo Sauce then grilled with melted swiss cheese, but there’s so much more at Havana Kitchen than that. I love Lechon Asado (Cuban Roast Pork) and at Havana Kitchen it is cooked to perfection, slow roasted for up to 15 hours with a citrus and garlic tang and covered with sautéed onions. It’s served with black beans and rice and sweet plantains. Nancy’s Picadillo is Jimmy’s mom’s take on Picadillo Cubano, seasoned ground beef with tomato, wine, onions, garlic, bell peppers and more with slices of fresh avocado.
Don’t let the fact that the food is served on Styrofoam plates deter you. Every bite is delicious. As one diner said to his friends as they walked in “It’s not fancy, but it’s awesome.” For dessert there’s Cuban Flan using Jimmy’s grandmother’s recipe in either coconut or traditional and guava & cheese pastry. He is working on getting the flan into local markets. The coffee is roasted by his parents’ neighbors and the Café Cubano is a full bodied coffee sweetened and infused with milk. The Torres’ also offer catering with virtually every item on the extensive menu available.
Due to popular demand Havana Kitchen will soon remain open until 7:00 pm. Future plans include opening a larger Cuban Café and coffee house in the Temecula area. For incredibly tasty food and budget friendly prices (nothing over $8.49), you’ll be hard pressed to find a better meal than what you’ll find at Havana Kitchen. Odds are you’ll become a repeat customer.
Havana Kitchen – 41775 Elm St. #401 in Murrieta. (951) 696-0694 – Open Monday – Saturday
My thanks to Marilyn Wrye-Tipps for her assistance on this article.