This week for Foodie Friday I had the opportunity to try Havana’s Pilon, downtown’s only authentic Cuban cuisine. My friend and I went in for dinner. Neither of us had been here before and we were unsure of what we wanted to order. Our waiter was more than gracious to take us through the menu. He spent time explaining each item, sharing his favorite items (including some things not on the menu), and even allowed us to try samples before we ordered.
We started out with a cheese empanada. Fresh, handmade, and cooked when you order. My friend thoroughly enjoyed it, and mentioned how she had been searching for a delicious empanada in Memphis. Personally, I was not so keen on it. Mainly because it was just cheese (I’m not a huge plain cheese fan), but they have a variety of other ones I want to try including: shrimp, ham and cheese, chicken, and guava and cheese.
Per suggestion of our waiter I ordered Arroz Con Pollo (yellow rice with chicken) with black beans and Amarillos (fried ripe plantains) for my main meal. Delicious. The spices were not overpowering. The chicken was a little dry, but overall I still greatly enjoyed the meal. The black beans were simple which was perfect. While I am not a big fan of fried plantains, I still wanted to try these.
My friend ordered the waiter’s favorite meal: Steak with onions. He suggested getting Yucca as a side. Yucca is a very different root. It is boiled and prepared much like mashed potatoes, but has stringy-like texture. Havana’s prepares their yucca with a garlic sauce and pickled onions. Our waiter warned us it was very different, but could grow on you. We opted to try it. He was right, it is very different. I would want to try it again because it was good, just prepared unlike I have ever had it. On to the steak. This is not your ‘American’ style, thick-cut steak. On the menu, it’s described as a ‘Caribbean style’ steak topped with onions. The steak is very thin. My friend mentioned her enjoyment while also commenting on how it reminded her of the style of steak she had eaten in Argentina.
Each day Havana’s Pilon features a special which always includes 2 sides and drink for $6.95. Many of their items are under $10, making this eatery not only fresh and delicious, but very affordable. They offer a variety of different dishes, sandwiches, sides, shakes, smoothies, juices, and even Cuban coffee. Havana’s also serves breakfast. You are going to want to check this place out.
The inside is small, but there is still plenty of seating. You can also always order to go! Don’t think you can make it out to Havana’s Pilon? No worries, they have you covered with deliveries. They mentioned to us they’ll even go to Midtown. Live in Downtown? Delivery is free with no minimum.
Where: Havana’s Pilon (143 Madison Ave, Memphis 38103)
Hours (unless otherwise noted by the owner):
- Monday-Friday, 7:30a-8:30p
- Saturday, 9:30a-8:30p