Habana Outpost – A Weekend Destination in Brooklyn

Goodlifer: Habana Outpost - A Weekend Destination in Brooklyn

This past weekend, Habana Outpost celebrated its season opening with an Earth Day Expo, featuring kids’ activities, outdoor film screenings, an eco fashion show, workshops, local vendor booths and live music. We arrived promptly at noon on Saturday, hoping to beat the crowd (which on this first warm day of the year could be nothing but insane). We did, and were the first to make use of the smoothie “bike blender”, a stationary bike with a blender attached to it — pedal and receive $1 off your smoothie, seems like a deal too good to pass up. Even though it may not be the most efficient eco-feature, because of its crowd appeal it is probably the one that gets the most attention.

Habana Outpost: bike blender

Taking the bike blender for a blueberry spin.

Habana Outpost: bike blender

TV cameras hovering over the coolest eco-feature, the human-powered bike blender.

Sean Meenan opened NoLita’s Cafe Habana and Habana To Go in 1998, with a mission to serve home-style Latin food with unique Cuban and Central Mexican accents. Habana Outpost, located in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, is the third member of this culinary family. Besides being a fun place to spend a sunny day, Habana Outpost is NYC’s first eco-eatery, aiming to reduce wasteful consumption and promote sustainable solutions by using earth-friendly practices in the design, construction, and day-to-day operations.

Habana Outpost

Local vendors showcasing their sustainable offerings.

Cups and utensils are made from biodegradable corn-starch, and plates are made from sugar cane. Solar panels covering an awning in the courtyard provide shade and help lower the electricity bill (there is also a completely sun-powered chandelier). Rainwater is collected in a recycled pickle barrel and is used to water plants. The picnic benches are made from recycled plastic bottles and sawdust—a material called Trex, the tables are made from recycled aluminum (AluLite), and many of the other building materials are reclaimed or come from natural renewables like wheat, vegetable starch and sunflower seeds.

Earth-friendly utensils.

Earth-friendly utensils, made from corn starch and sugar cane.

Rainwater is collected and used to water plants.

Rainwater is collected and used to water plants.

Composting and recycling station.

Sort it. Composting and recycling station.

Eco-wayfinding.

Eco-wayfinding.

There is also an unmistakable community aspect, where neighbors, greenies, artists and families with kids of all ages come together in the courtyard to attend artisan markets, outdoor movie nights, kids’ events, education programs, art exhibitions, and, oh, eat and drink.

Even though most people come for the neighborly atmosphere, the food is not to be overlooked. Prepared in an outdoor food truck by a team of chefs headed by Oscar Teco, menu items are savory and healthy. A taste of the renowned grilled corn is a must. Beware though, that on most days when the sun is out you will have to practice patience (on this particular day we waited about forty minutes for our food). Feeling impatient? Then the trick is to stick to beverages, like beer, frozen mojitos and margaritas, and corn, so that you can order in the express line.

Kitchen on wheels: a red U.S. postal truck has been converted into an outdoor kitchen.

Kitchen on wheels: a red vintage U.S. postal truck has been converted into an outdoor kitchen.

Mmm, frozen mojito.

Mmm, frozen mojito.

Our six-year-old companion had a great time in the kids corner, getting spiders and snakes painted on his arms, making buttons to put on his shirt and watching other kids parade onto the stage wearing costumes made by the Scrap Kins, “a group of creatures that live in a recycling center and build their world out of the things people throw away.”

The kids corner always has activities to keep children entertained.

The kids corner always has activities to keep children entertained.

We adults were loving life with frozen mojitos in our paws and free plants in our bags (courtesy of Root for Trees). We met a few friends, spotted actor Jeffrey Wright (Basquiat, Angels in America, Quantum of Solace) wearing an Arsenal soccer jersey (they had lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup earlier that day, so maybe he could have been happier), and, most importantly, spent a great afternoon outdoors, in the company of like-minded neighbors.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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  1. Went by Habana Outpost that evening – it was an utter madhouse!! The streets were thronged with people waiting to get in. I have NEVER seen so many people congregated on the streets in Brooklyn, outside of perhaps a concert in Prospect Park or fireworks on the promenade. It had the air of a true happening!

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