La Havana 59 – Moonachie NJ
Tucked away between an airport, trucking yard and from the center of town, you can have a little taste of Cuba. La Havana 59 is a place, as the name would suggest, how you might have found it, just before the Castro Regime. Retro themed with memorabilia on the walls, live music at night, and of course, some of the most authentic food you will find. And, if you are driving along this quiet road, you will find it for sure by the 1950 Classic Cars parked out front.
Every time I go there, I try something new. Of course, I always start with a Mojito, probably the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had them all over the Caribbean. The key I find, is to include a splash of club soda. This even works for any cocktail, especially in the summer. Rather than a heavy strong over-sweet cocktail, that bit of seltzer or club soda lightens it up, gives it jus barely a fizz and its refreshing. Keep the sweet & sour mixes for your commercial themed places trying to imitate places like this.
You can get a good cross-section of any ethic cuisine from ordering a few different appetizers. The portions are small, but the prices are cheap, and from what you can see, there is a great variety. Yuca wrapped in bacon, potato croquettes, empanadas with cheese, chicken or beef, and a dozen others.
If you are not full by time you are done with appetizers, order up a red or white wine sangria and enjoy some Ropa Vieja or Arroz con Pollo. Both are perfect and the best I’ve ever tasted. The classic Arroz con Pollo is beautiful tender chunks of shredded chicken, yellow rice, peas and something so creamy in the sauce I can’t even identify, but is incredibly delicious. Its even served in an authentic cast iron pot. It might look small, but trust me, this can easily serve 2-3 people.
They have lunch specials for under $10 which include a glass of wine, but don’t be too under-ambitious, I did have a Cuban Sandwich there once and honestly was not impressed. It does come with plantain chips as a side, and some sort of dipping sauce, however, its lacking content as far as the filling of the sandwich goes.