Broadway and 7th Avenue in the 40's is pretty bad. You don't need us to tell you that. But you should know that we are currently
bribing lobbying City Hall to provide each local resident one get-out-of-jail-free card, allowing a single instance of street shoving per year without consequence. Where did all these people come from? No idea. But feel free to give them all a friendly nudge toward Guys' American Kitchen next time you're in the neighborhood.
Now that you know that you can freely maneuver in Times Square with the proper blessing from local politicians, allow us to suggest you hurry up and get to Margon, a cafeteria-style Latin American restaurant with one of the city's best Cuban sandwiches, along with many other Latin delicacies.
Margon is no secret - at least to people who know what's what in this part of town. It's often just as crowded and sweaty as the inside of an Elmo costume, and for first timers, it can be a bit intimidating. Nobody is there to greet you, seat you, or ask you how they can help. There is an old dude who seems to have his eye on everything, but he doesn't really have teeth or speak English, so unfortunately you can't rely on him for much. Luckily, everyone is smiling, and they're happy to have you. Proceed with confidence.
When it comes to navigating an order, if you're just looking for a sandwich for the road, hit up the grill guy right when you walk in. But if you’re planning on sitting and staying a while (which you should), push through the crowd lining the lunch counter and take a seat at one of the rickety tables near the back. Lay claim to a couple chairs and then get back up in line (no waiters) and take a gander at the menu. And by menu, we mean steaming trays of food. Sure the offerings are listed up on the wall, but at Margon you can let your eyes do the ordering. Chicken, pork, fish. Roasted, stewed, fried. If it looks good, it is good. A lot of dishes are only available on a designated day of the week, but the regular staples are fully reliable, so you'll be good to go regardless of when you show.
Just make sure you're prepared to shove your way there.
One of the tops in town, the Cuban here is really something special. For meat, you get a healthy slop of roast pork, ham, and salami. Throw on some melted Swiss, mayo, mustard and garlic sauce and viola, a star is born. The kicker: the bread is grilled up perfectly giving you just the right crisp in every bite.
The ugly stepsister of the Cuban, this girl still gets the job done but can be a bit dry and is lacking the condiments and add-ons that make the Cuban so choice.
This is available everyday, and God bless that it is. A bowl packed high with thinly sliced octopus in a dressing of vinegar and some red peppers. A must order any time you come in and sit down.
An order of this guy comes with about four or five shrimps with red peppers, scallions, some other green and a light sauce. Unlike a lot of other ceviches that are simply doused in citrus, vinegar, and nothing else, Margon's dish has a little more flavor added in. If it's a special on the day you go, you should make room for it even if it is the most expensive item on the board - at $11.
1/4 chicken, moist meat, crispy skin. Standard staple, very reliable.
If you're an adventurous eater, this soup is calling your name. It is full of flavor and as far as we know, perfectly true to its Latin American roots (we don't know). That said, it's not the main attraction here, so if you had pig feet for breakfast, don't worry about forcing down another portion for lunch.
This is a plate of fried chicken chunks. They come on the bone, the size of a baby's fist. They are damn good, though they seem semi-roasted, semi-fried. They should be ordered if you have numbers or come often and want to expand your horizons.
Sadly, these can be hit or miss. On a good day, the maduros here are gooey and perfect. Other times, they can be a bit dry. Let your eyes decide, and make it a game-time decision.
A few varieties to pick from - rice comes white, yellow, and with peas, beans black or pinto. They all do the tick as a side to an entree. If you're pressed, go yellow rice, pinto beans.
The beer here is served as beer should be served: freezing cold. A bottle of Presidente is a solid sidekick to any meal at this place and might earn you a "qué suerte" from the bus boys.