February 29, 2016

Oakland: Casa Cubana (CLOSED); restaurant review

880 South

Casa Cubana  59 Grand Ave./Webster St., (510) 452-CUBA (2822).  L M-F, D M-Sat. 

Located two blocks west of Lake Merritt, this expansive yet cozy spot serves Cuban inspired cuisine.

interior of Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

The chef melds traditional Cuban flavors and Caribbean influences with modern techniques to create a delicious seasonal menu.  Signature items include a Habana Cocktail (shrimp cocktail with fresh mango, cucumbers, and avocado in a tomato citrus broth) and Croquettas (crispy traditional dish prepared with applewood-smoked ham and béchamel sauce), but we chose the Cuban guacamole tarted up with fresh pineapple and served with thin housemade plantain and yucca chips.

Cuban guacamole at Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

We followed this with a green salad tossed with jicama, mango, and almonds plus a tasty hemp-herb dressing.

green salad with jicama and mango at Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

The Corazon De Palma (hearts of palm, endive, papaya, and cucumber with a toasted hazelnut vinaigrette) and Kale Avocado Caesar (romaine lettuce and kale with white anchovies, avocado, pepitas, and golden raisins) also sounded promising.  For my main course, I chose Lechon Asado—a slow-roasted pork shoulder marinated with orange, garlic, onion, fennel, and cumin, and served with forbidden black rice and sweet maduros (plantains).  It was a large portion that left me with enough to take home for sandwiches the next day.

Lechon Asado (pork shoulder) at Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

leftover sandwiches of Lechon Asado (pork shoulder) from Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

My dining partner chose pan-seared salmon with cauliflower and more maduros.  It was also a generous portion, but he managed to eat it all.  Additional slow-cooked options include a grilled marinated skirt steak, roasted chicken, guava-glazed ribs, and duck breast.

pan-seared salmon at Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

To cut calories, often my dining partner and I share a dessert.  This menu had me choosing Pavlova (a meringue filled with mango puree and topped with fresh fruits)

Pavlova meringue dessert at Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

and him insisting on banana bread pudding, though the Guava Cheesecake with dragon fruit sauce and Coconut Flan with a sesame cookie tuile and lime zest were also enticing.  We weren’t sorry, but we were quite stuffed.

banana bread pudding at Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

With such a tropical menu, we both wanted a cocktail.  I chose a pina colada because I saw one wander by to another table.  It was not a slushy Hawaiian-fantasy blended version, but it was good—and topped with a square marshmallow and a tiny umbrella.  However, my husband ordered a Mojito, and a taste of it made it clear that this is the drink of choice here.  But do keep in mind a Banana Daiquiri and the Remolacha (a mix of beet juice, cilantro, ginger, citrus, and pistachio).  An international wine list and a selection of craft beers are also options.

pina colada and mojito at Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

A full bar in the front features tropical palms and a high ceiling with slow-turning fans.  It is an inviting spot to sit for a while before your meal, or to just hang at for a lighter meal.  Or stop in for Happy Hour (daily 4 to 7 p.m.) for discounted drinks and bar bites.

bar at Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

Though the dimly-lit restaurant spreads through four large room, it fills quickly and becomes noisy with animated chatter.  While here, do allow time to take in the art.  It is part of Casa Cubana-owner Sam DuVall’s private Cuban art collection--one of the largest in the U.S.  Portraits of beautiful women by Mario Mendez hang in the middle room, while many colorful big-eyed subjects painted by Exposito adorn walls in the back room.  Mixed in throughout are vintage photos and posters.

paintings by Exposito at Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

cigar label collection at Casa Cubana in Oakland, California

Casa Cubana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For more information about travel to Cuba, let me introduce you to expert Christopher Baker
View a video interview with Christopher Baker.

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


  1. It looks like you could easily spend an afternoon admiring the artwork decorating the walls and I'd love to examine the cigar box artwork pictured in your last photo. And, WOW - What food choices! It would be hard to pick among the many options and harder to restrain myself!

  2. Ok I have to ask: why is the black rice, "forbidden"? The food looks delicious, especially the pavlova. My rationale that it is healthy is that it is served with lots of fruit. Let's not talk about how much sugar is in it!

    1. Good question. Without researching, I think it has to do with that once it was allowed to be eaten only by royalty. Maybe someone else can tell us?

  3. We have a daughter living in Oakland and Casa Cubana looks just like a place she would enjoy. Thanks for a great posting!

  4. I had to scroll up to the top of this post again to make sure the restaurant wasn't it Cuba!

  5. I had the same feeling as Irene! I love that you included some shots of the art along with your food photos. My opinion is: you ordered the right dessert:) I hope to visit Oakland's Casa Cubana!

  6. The food at the Casa Cabana looks wonderful. I'd have to try the forbidden rice just for the name!