Written by Hulda Lawrence
with M.J. Boyer

Past Reviews

Havana CentralHavana Central at 151 West 46th Street, (212) 398-7440, is inspired by the famous Sloppy Joe's in Havana, Cuba, where Ernest Hemingway held court with many of his famous friends. It is noisy and open to the street with a separate V.I.P. area that is not so noisy. The decor is simple and the bar is huge; the upstairs is ready for music and private parties.

When we arrived for lunch we began by sipping Mojitos of mango. On a hot day this tall, cool refreshment made the whole world seem better. The stick of sugar came set on the rim of the glass helped the ambiance. Of course, the Mojitos come in several flavors like passion fruit, orange, strawberry, blackberry and pineapple at $9 each. Daiquiris invented in Cuba in 1898 are reported to be Mr. Hemingway's drink of choice. There are margaritas as well as cuba libra, rum punch and lots of sangria. There also is wine and plenty of beer both on draft and in bottles.

From the list of fascinating sounding appetizers we sampled Pastel de Cangrejo, crab cakes with mango mayonnaise; and Camarones con Coco, coconut dusted shrimp, fast fried and served with pineapple fufu. Among other appetizers are Empanada, Fried Al Calamari, and Pork Riblets with Mango Habanero Ginger Sauce. Appetizers are $3 for empanadas to $14 for tasting sampler. The shrimp and crab cakes are $14 each.

In order to appreciate the varieties of the cuisine we sampled a number of dishes. We had some fine grilled pork with plantain cakes, a paella of spiced chicken with marvelous rice and special pork with avocado. A chimichurri sauce with pork was outstanding and the paella with seafood was delicious. We also had Grilled Shrimp Salad with mixed greens, jumbo shrimp, mango-pineapple slaw, black bean corn salad, tomatoes, onions and Spanish olives. It was great! Other salads include Mango Glazed Salmon Salad, Avocado Salad, Grilled Chicken Breast Salad and Fiesta House Salad. Salads are $5 to $15 for the salmon.

Main dishes include Ropa Vieja, beef, peppers and onions; Cuban Beef Stew; Churrasco, latin skirt steak; Picadillo, Cuban style ground beef; Arroz con Pollo, chicken and rice; Havana Style BBQ ribs with Mango Habanero Ginger Sauce, half or full rack; and Mariscada, seafood stew. These dishes range from $12 to $25 for the Seafood Stew.

Paellas come in the classic style of chicken, chorizo and seafood; all seafood or vegetable variety. Herb-Roasted Chicken and Havana Ribs Plate is $18. Yucca is served as a side dish either steamed or fried.

The menu Rapido served within 15 minutes from ordering includes a la carte dishes such as Cuban Black Bean Soup at $5; Empanadas at $3; Rice and Beans at $4 and several salads from $4 to $12. Arroz con Pollo; Carne Guisada beef stew; Roast Port; and Herb Roasted Chicken are $9 to $12. There are Hot-Pressed Cuban sandwiches including Grilled Chicken; Cod Fillet; Roast Pork; and Classic Cuban sandwich of smoked ham, roasted pork Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. Another sandwich is of Fire Roasted Vegetables and Swiss cheese. These sandwiches are 7 to $9.

After all our tasting enjoyment as well as another Mojito could we handle dessert? Oh, yes we could. The Flan, that classic Cuban custard is delicious. There also are Churros, fried dough; Mini Chocolate Empanadas; Bread Pudding; and Three Milk Cake. Desserts are $6. Coffee is served in a huge cup and is very good. It also can be ordered cold.

For a fast visit to Havana with some tasty food, drop in to Havana Central.

Hours: Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Bar menu 4 p.m. to closing. Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Bar menu 4 p.m. to closing
Credit Cards: All major
Dress Code: Casual
Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes
Price: $$

The Restaurant Revue Ratings

The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.

$ Inexpensive $25
$$ Moderate $50
$$$ Expensive $100
$$$$ Very Expensive $150

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