Owner Michael Boland and his wife, Deirdre Swords, opened Havana 11 years ago, bringing Latin culture and food to Bar Harbor. Last June, they opened Havana South, providing Portland with “American fine dining with a Latin flair.”

Located on Wharf Street, the new place takes up the space that formerly housed three bars and restaurants, and boasts a beautiful patio setup. There are semiprivate rooms for gatherings, large dining areas and a sizable bar with plenty of tables. Servers and bartenders bustle around, anxious to get you anything your heart may desire.

At Havana South, making drinks is an art. Try the Cactus Pear Caipairoska with Ketel One vodka, lime wedges, prickly pear puree and raw sugar muddled together. It’s served on the rocks for $9. My favorite — probably because of the name — is the Scorned Woman. It’s made with house-infused chile vodka and passion fruit juice ($9.) The ginger Manhattan, made with house-infused ginger whiskey, is a huge seller.

Havana South carries a selection of beers made locally and from far away, both on tap and in bottles. Choose from Island Ginger ($5.25), Bud Light, Geary’s Pale, Amstel Light ($4.25), Atlantic Brewing Co. Real Ale, Pacifico, Cadillac Mountain Stout, Corona, Peak Organic Pale, Haake, Allagash, Guinness and L’Enedit (750 milliliters; $18).

There’s also an extensive wine list –18 pages of choices from Spain, France, Australia and Chile, in red or white, ranging from $6.95 a glass to $1,250 a bottle. And the staff at Havana South has the wine knowledge to lead you in the right direction for your drinking pleasure.

The kitchen prides itself in creating great food, starting with local and organic meats, produce and seafood whenever possible. When seated at the bar, you have your choice of the full dinner menu or the smaller bar-fare menu that features duck tacos ($7), local mussels ($9) and the ever-popular mushroom spring rolls ($8).

As far as entrees go, I’ve heard good things about the braised short ribs served over “red flannel” hash in a grilled tomato mole ($26), and the Lobster 2 Ways with Maine lobster tail and butter-poached claws and knuckles served with chorizo stuffing and a wilted spinach-poblano salad for $29.

There’s no doubt Havana South is classy, and word is spreading fast about the atmosphere, food and specialty drinks. It comes highly recommended for date night, sophisticated family gatherings and happy hour with your girlfriend. 

Amber Olesen is a freelance writer who lives in Westbrook.