Little Havoc

Little Havana will drive you to drink

But the margaritas are dull, too, with tentative lime bursts rimmed with a metallic aftertaste blunted by weird processed sweetness--the garish traits of cheap margarita mix. Wine? What kind of an idiot orders wine in a faux Cuban bar with pink flamingos? Here's the flavor description for the McMurry Ranch Pinot Noir: light and fruity with cherry cola flavors. The wine is warm (we forgot to order it on the rocks) and musty, with the skunky nose and exhausted fruit flavors that come from a bottle that's had too many oxygen trysts. We asked for a fresh glass. This must have been a confusing request, because the glass was quickly swapped with a fresh clean glass holding the same wine from the same bottle, if not the wine from the old glass. We know this McMurry drink. It doesn't suck. So we ordered it on another visit and got a light, clean and fresh glass of forward berry fruit (uncarbonated). But our Sprite turned out to be tired club soda on the rocks.

Inside, the kitschy Caribbean morphs into nautical sports bar with a swordfish trophy and fishing pix on the walls and lots of televisions flashing everything from NCAA basketball to ESPN SportsCenter to Don Rickles in an Andy Griffith episode. There is also a poster with Fidel blowing cigar smoke in the face of Laura Miller dressed in military garb. Little Havana would, no doubt, like to see Laura Miller sentenced to hard time in an Amarillo smoking lounge. "Madam No is banned from Little Havana Restaurant by order of the owners," reads the poster, above a no-smoking warning (lucky mayor). This is why on one of our visits there were no black ashtrays notched with little butt slots, nor was there a couple bellied up to the bar smoking cigarettes. That would be against the law.

Funny how the food didn't taste any better inside the restaurant than it did on the patio, which is hell on the liver. Fried jerk chicken salad was an impostor. Sure, there was spicy chorizo crumbled over the serviceable greens, chunks of pineapple, bits of faded tomato and strips of mango, but far from jerk-seasoned, the chicken was little more than unseasoned pre-breaded breast in a Caribbean costume. Steak Camilla allegedly had marinated steak that had been pounded and butterflied. The tough, dry meat tasted as if the flavor had been pounded and butterflied out of it. Sautéed red snapper was spongy mush. Soup was impressive, though. Havana caldo gallego, with firm white beans, chorizo and cabbage, was smoky, hearty and rich.

Drink up at Little Havana, the food needs all the 
lubrication it can get.
Tom Jenkins
Drink up at Little Havana, the food needs all the lubrication it can get.

Details

Jerk chicken salad $7
Caldo gallego $3.50
Fritters $5
Octopus $4.50
Empanadas $4.50
Beef tips $5
Steak Camilla $12.50
Red snapper $14.50
Closed Location

Little Havana has a menu that will drive you to drink, and abar that will drive you to Aqua Velva--a lot like Fidel's Havana. So it's very authentic. 3520 Greenville Ave., 214-370-0400. Open daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m. $-$$

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