Cuban food and I had our affair once upon a time. When I lived in Miami, it was everywhere and I was always that odd girl. Rice and beans? Keep your beans please, thanks. But I learned what I loved – plantains (sweet or green, take ’em both), mofongo, chincharrones de pollo (lovely little fried chunks of chicken, usually inna garlic sauce), and queso fundido con chorizo. Yes please. All of the above.
When we decided to try Havana Central, I was pleased to see all of my old friends on the menu. I’d been to their Union Square location several times before, though it has since closed. To top it all off, they were serving up the mojito of the day – watermelon, which had generous chunks of fresh, juicy watermelon and just a hint of mint. Nice.
We were seated in the back, which meant walking through the entire restaurant. I was impressed with it’s size, which was more in line with the ones in oh say Alabama to which I am accustomed. Quite large by Manhattan’s standards.
We ordered several starters for the table. We went with the queso fundido with chorizo, which was served with fresh toasted bread. They managed to bring out the cheese when it was still nice and warm and the chorizo was in tiny bits. Just like I like it. I could’ve gone with that for my meal and been content. We also got the plantain chips with
avocado salsa and mojo. The avocado salsa (basically guacamole’s cousin) was nicely done, but I wished there’d been more of it. Lots of chips to lil’ bit of salsa. The dish was also served with mojo, which I loved but would be too garlicky for most.
I wanted to try so many things. The mofongo was one of the few things on the menu that was accompanied by an enticing photo. And then there was a combo dish of herb rubbed 1/4 chicken paired with guava-glazed ribs. That almost won out as I’ve never tried ribs at a place not focused specifically on BBQ. I ended up though going with the combination chicken and Tiger shrimp dish, which was topped by fried plantains and served with rice (and beans – though, shock, I passed there) and a side salad. It was so much food! Could have easily served two.
Several at the table ordered the paella, one order of which was more than enough for two people. There were several varieties to choose from. The classic looked great though – clams, chorizo, chicken, fish, mussels, and shrimp.
We skipped dessert this round, but maybe next time. Saturday night they even had live music. Overall, this was a great spot. Wide variety on the menu in both food and prices. Extra points that they could easily accompany large parties (we were a group of 8), and at the last minute at that. A perfect group dining spot to stash for an appropriate occasion – though a good option overall.
Havana Central – 2911 Broadway (b/w 113th & 114th) – 212.662.8830