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Havana Central Times Square: Say "Cuba Libre" instead of "rum and coke"
I must admit that I was first attacted to Havana Central by the marvelous neon sign reaching a couple of stories into the air at the building's edge. It had that "old time" historic NY restaurant look to it, the sort of place that's been in business for a long, long time - usually with good reason. So, I went to menupages.com and eventually to the Havana Central website and it sounded great. And although it turns out that THIS restaurant has only been in business for about five years, I can imagine Havana Central having long-time staying power. The food and atmosphere is excellent.
I do enjoy Cuban food and living in Florida, I'm somewhat familiar with it. However, being a north Florida resident, it's a once-in-a-while thing for us. That being said, Tallahassee has had some good Cuban places.
Havana Central has it all - an extensive menu, excellent service, a terrific bar and atmosphere atmosphere atmosphere. I can imagine this place in 1950s Cuba.
Look the menu over and pick something that suits your fancy. But I'd certainly recommend starting with their empanada sampler plate, which brings you three empanada styles of your choice. Mix and match and enjoy.... they go great with a rum punch or a mojito.
Muy bueno, an excellent pre-theater choice, with its location in the heart of the theater district. If Cuban cuisine tickles your imagination and tastebuds, enjoy.
Some nights, they have live Latin music. I'm sure it'd be great, adding to the already bueno ambiance.
And if you really want to marvel at humans doing important work well, watch the bartenders. We had an upstairs table, at the edge of the balcony overlooking the main dining room. The bar was a beehive of activity, truly amazing. It's actually a bit of a thrill to place your own order for cocktails and then watch from above as they magically blend all the ingredients. Lots of fresh fruit and juices, excellent rums, etc. Ahhhhhh Cuban bars. Oye amigos.
Note : We ate at the Times Square Havana Central. There are also restaurants at Union Square (22 E 17th Street, between 5th and Broadway, Tel 212-414-4999) and on the Upper West Side (2911 Broadway, between 113th and 114th Streets, Tel 212-662-8830)
Favorite Dish: I had vaca frita as my main.... it was grilled skirt steak that had been marinaded overnight in lime and lemon juice, garlic and onions. It was accompanied by a perfect cilantro rice and it absolutely hit the spot.
We also had the empanada sampler, and we chose chicken, shrimp and "Cubano", meaning it was stuffed with pork loin, cheese and pickles... like a fine Miami Cuban sandwich. :)
My drink? The rum punch is a good mood enhancer. Don't drink two, though... unless you want to worry about stumbling over to your theater reservations later. There are many great mojitos and margaritas, and the restaurant has an impressive selection of rum. Want a classic rum and coke with a bit of lime? Be sure to say "Cuba Libre" and smile.
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