Let’s face it- for the people that live in New York City, an area that we kind of/sort of have come to despise over recent years is Times Square. Yes, Times Square, the biggest tourist spot in the world, is full of a bunch of eye sores that many of us turn a blind eye to each time we are in this overpacked location. However, there are a few standout restaurants in the midst of the craziness that make you forget about the annoying visitors and focus on the good night ahead. With all the crazy cold weather we’ve been getting, I couldn’t think of a better place to escape to than a delicious Cuban experience at Havana Central, located on 46th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue.
Something that i noticed immediately about Havana Central was that it was retro-chic blended in with modern stylings. You really get the sense upon arrival that you are in some type of a 1970’s Havana type club that just happens to be larger than you expected. With two floors, spacious window seating, live music and more, there is so much to enjoy about this location whether you are dining for two or have a big party with you to join in on the fun.
The food at Havana Central really speaks for itself, as it takes the best of Cuban cuisine and elevates your taste buds to levels that you don’t really experience a lot in New York City. Especially with this kind of food. Sticking to the island mentality, it is good to start off with a fresh drink to get the taste buds going, such as a delicious Sangria or Pina Colada with fresh fruit inside. Tasty, tasty, tasty. For their Tapas, or appetizers, there are plenty to select from that pack the right heat and flavor to really kick off your meal in the best way possible. I would recommend what is pictured above, the Tostones Rellenos (Stuffed Plantain Baskets) with chicken sofrito, ropa vieja, beef picadillo and shrimp sofrito adorning each basket. It is sort of a best of the best when it comes to what kind of filling you want in each, with the Shrimp being the personal standout.
Other tapas that are good way to star the meal is their Chiccharones De Pollo, otherwise known as fried chicken, and their Hand Made Empanadas which comes in Beef Picadillo, Cubano, Chicken/Shrimp Sofrito, Three Cheese or Spinach & Goat Cheese. For the former, its fried chicken, Latin style. You really can’t get any better than that, in my opinion. For the latter, I have always been a big fan of Empanadas in the first place, and the variety of options you can have as a filling is fantastic, with Beef Picadillo rounding out as my favorite.
For your entree, you have your endless options when it comes to delicious Cuban cuisine. I opted for a classic- Camarones Al Ajillo, otherwise known as Shrimp in Garlic Sauce on top of saffron rice. Simple yet powerful when it comes to combination and execution. Other notable dishes to try are their varieties of Paella including their classic (Valenciana), seafood (De Mariscos) and Vegetable (De Vegetales). All three have incredible ingredients in them from chicken, chorizo, fish & clams for the Valenciana, shrimp, scallops & calamari for the De Mariscos, and zucchini, tomatoes and chick peas for the Vegetales that engulf your sense of smell when the kettle it is all kept in opens.
It is always good to be indulgent, even after a magnificent meal like this, so dessert should and will be in order after your meal. We recommend their Cuban Flan, Dulce De Leche Cheesecake or a simple yet deliciously tasty option in their Churros. Three great ways to end a great meal.
Havana Central also conveniently has four different locations including the Times Square one, others being in Menlo Park, Ridge Hill and Roosevelt Field Mall out on Long Island. For more information, check out their official site.