Lena and Habana
Since Lena upstairs has the more ambitious menu, I decided to explore the basement first. The cave-like Habana features a simpler version of the artsy fare upstairs, with small plates created by the same accomplished Ecuadoran chef, Gabriel Vera, but assembled in a satellite kitchen and offered at lower prices.
Once your bat eyes adjust to the stone-walled space, there's a lot to like in Habana, with its campy crystal chandeliers, sparkly tall mojitos that have cute round ice cubes with lime juice and mint leaves frozen in, and other fruity rum cocktails (though the syrupy signature margarita should come with a mega-sugar warning). Big art deco posters from the old Cafe Habana line the intimate side rooms--literally extending under the sidewalks of Liberty and Main.
Habana shares its fresh-tasting shellfish ceviche, a little sweet and totally devoid of unwelcome fishiness, with Lena upstairs. The rest of the menu is mostly high-quality bar food, with "tacos" and "sliders" constructed from ingredients like sturdy grilled skirt steak, watermelon barbecue sauce, and cilantro aioli. The Cuban sandwich in particular is a treat, with thin slices of pork belly, smoked ham, and Manchego cheese and light mustard sauce on wafer-like grill-pressed white bread. Fresh tomato salsa and lettuce adorn most plates. At eight or nine bucks for three portions, this relatively healthy lounge fare seems an awesome value. High-mounted TVs playing sports draw your eyes like beacons in the dark room; for complete distraction, come back on salsa dancing nights.