Havana Heat: 7 Great Cuban Restaurants in NYC

From Times Square to Corona, Queens, you’ll find fantastic ropa vieja, plantains, Cubanos, and mojitos all over town if you know where to look. Read on for pre-Broadway eats as well as takeout plates in NYC, all with a Cuban flair.

Havana Central 

pernil havana central

Times Square’s Havana Central serves not only great Cuban food, but you’ll often find a live band adding some oomph to the atmosphere. Order vaca frita or paella at this bilevel throwback cafe, and don’t skip the appetizer sampler if you’re here with a group. After work or to break up a day of sightseeing, enjoy $7 tropical cocktails and half-price empanadas during happy hour. 51 W. 46th St., 212-398-7440,

Rincon Criollo

Deep in Queens is some of the best food in New York: take Rincon Criollo, for example. The family-owned cafe has attracted lots of love for its picadillo stew, fried sweet plantains, and other exceptional home cooking. The Acosta family brought Rincon Criollo stateside in 1976 after running a restaurant for 20 years in Havana. Named after a Cuban film, the restaurant is a love letter to the owners’ home country, as the cuisine proves again and again. 40-09 Junction Blvd., 718-458-0236,




A few blocks south of Columbus Circle is this Cuban outpost where you’ll want to party all night. A live band plays Cuban tunes every evening if you’d like to cha-cha after you eat. Start your meal with a salad tossed with avocado, mango, and pineapple. Order the Ropa Vieja as an entree for delicious steak with rice, beans, and plantain chips. For dessert, the traditional Tres Leches Cake is your go-to. The kitchen is open till 11:30pm Sunday through Thursday and till 12:30am Friday and Saturday. 939 Eighth Ave., 212-262-5354,


A tasty Cuban lunch doesn’t get much better than Margon. This Rockefeller Center-adjacent diner serves affordable Cuban sandwiches and platters packed with flavor. Come for fried king fish or a steak sandwich with mojito sauce, and be sure to check out rotating daily specials like oxtail and ceviche. With its spare decor and lunch-rush crowds, this one’s a local favorite worth seeking out. 136 W. 46th St., 212-354-5013,


Cuba Restaurant

Near Washington Square is the restaurant simply named Cuba. Visit for brunch or dinner, and you’ll find tasty takes on ceviche and lechon asado. On weekend evenings, you’ll also be treated to live music and hand-rolled cigars. In an area rich in brunch options, we’ll point you to Cuba’s unlimited sparkling mojitos and mains like Benedict Habaneros on weekends. 222 Thompson St., 212-420-7878,


Looking for a Cuban sandwich at 3am? Head to Coppelia, on the border of Chelsea and the West Village. On this menu you’ll find a range of diner staples, but the Cuban offerings—oxtail empanadas and ropa vieja at dinner, cafe con leche and media noche sandwich at brunch—earn it a place on this list. Whether you’re late-nighting or coming for brunch on the weekend, you might be interested in the bar serving drinks like the Hemingway Royal with rum, orange, and ginger. 207 W. 14th St., 212-858-5001,

My Cuban Spot 

My Cuban Spot

My Cuban Spot is the petite eatery and take-out joint serving Cubano sandwiches and bowls in Gowanus, Brooklyn. There are only two tables (both outside) at this busy counter, but you’ll be back once you try the Somethin Fishy Going On bowl or The Boss sandwich. You can also stop by for a cafecito coffee topped with sugary foam. 488 Carroll St., 718-855-1941,

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About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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