Midtown Happy Hour: Havana NY Happy Hour ½ Off Drinks and Appetizers

Havana NY on 38th btw. 5th and 6th (not to be confused with Havana Central) is one of those places I would never, ever go for lunch because it’s way too expensive. As much as I like Cuban food, almost everything on the menu save for a few salads costs over $10. When I walked by it last week, I noticed a sign advertising on weekdays from 3-7 the place allegedly transforms into an affordable restaurant. Drinks and appetizers are all half price. I decided to find out if this happy hour special was truly a good deal. Lunch’ers, Havana NY is one of the places I really hoped I would enjoy, and then shout from the mountaintop that I’ve found the best happy hour deal in Midtown…

Unfortunately this is not what happened. All was well until the food came out… but more about that in a bit.

The restaurant has a cozy bar area and a vibrant atmosphere pumping with Cuban music. The Latina bartender was very pretty and friendly and she intuitively knew when we were running dry on our beer. I also thought she added a nice touch when she took everyone’s “last call for cheap drinks” which is a courtesy I’m not often extended. The happy hour specials list is basically the bar menu, a truncated version of the full menu that doesn’t include all beverages or food. The specials include $3 bottles of Corona, Presidente, Bud, Heineken, and Amstel Light, Coors Light, $5.50 cocktails and margaritas, and $6 mojitos.

There was a decent selection of food options ranging from $10 to $14 regularly which is $5-$7 during happy hour (I can do math!), including chorizo with peppers, calamari, “arepitas”, tostones, a trio of empanadas, chicken strips with chipotle sauce, and a few different selections of meats on a skewer. We ordered the empanadas and the chicken.

With the great beer specials, attentive staff, and fun atmosphere, everything would have been fine and dandy here at Havana NY if it wouldn’t have been for the appetizer portions. Have you ever gotten that feeling inside where you have a slight urge to cry over your disappointing food, but you can’t because you are an adult now? This was one of those heavily disheartening moments for me. I badly wanted to like this place, but what came out of the kitchen was mediocre food, and even at half price, still not worth it.

Anticipating the empanadas, I thought hey, three for $6? That would be a better deal than a lot of empanadas you can get in Midtown. But alas, the empanadas were about half the size of even the tiniest empanadas around. The taste? It was unanimous: out of the shrimp, lobster, and spinach that we each got a tiny bite of, the spinach was the best and worked well with the sauce, and none of them were too bad.

And the chicken… *sigh*. For $5, there were three tiny slivers of chicken breast, breaded and fried. I would’ve liked to have had MJP’s famous Leatherman on hand at the time to measure the thickness of these chicken pieces because I’m betting that almost every slice of pizza he has reviewed are thicker. They had a good flavor, but were quite dry. The chipotle sauce they came with seemed more like tomato sauce than chipotle sauce, but it had a nice, mild flavor (this is also the sauce they used for the empanadas).

It appeared that we chose our appetizers poorly. I saw a plate of the chorizo and peppers come out and also a plate of calamari that looked big enough to be worth the price. I asked the one server about the portions, and whether they are the same size if you order after 7:00 because I couldn’t imagine paying full price for such a little amount of food. She said during happy hour there is “just a little less food on the plate” than normal.

I know that the real focus should be on drinks at happy hour, but this small appetizer debacle is the true reason I was bummed out about my overall Havana NY experience. I’m sure lots of places do these kinds of things, and I understand that restaurants/bars have to make money like any business. I think I would be fine with it if they reduced the price and the dishes were $3 or even $4 for a smaller portion. But this practice of advertising a plate at half price when something is already very overpriced, then turning around and giving you less… it just hurts. That said, if you ever feel like a good deal on beer and have an inkling to taste Havana NY’s food (and I do mean *a* taste, singular) without completely breaking the bank, happy hour is the time to do it.

The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I like Cuban-style music, food, and atmosphere. This place has it.
  • $3 beer bottles in Midtown is one of the best deals around!
  • Since I couldn’t afford to eat here for lunch, this is an opportunity to try something new after work.
  • I’m not planning on eating anything with my drinks so who cares about the food? Let’s go.

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I am a Cuban food snob, and the food here isn’t good enough for the price.
  • The most important thing about food is value, and even at half off, this is unreasonable for the portion size.

Havana NY, 27 West 38th Street Between 5th & 6th Ave., (212)-944-0990

1 Comment

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Unfortunately you will see this at mostly all places now that advertise a half-off appetizers special, getting a reduced portion of the normal order. A more honest display would be $5 snacks etc..

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