As Midnight Munchies nears the end of the semester, we decided to treat ourselves to something a little more lavish. Our expedition this week took us down to NYU territory off the 14th street 1-2-3 stop for Coppelia, a 24/7 Cuban diner with a reputation for one of the best late-night burgers in the city: the Frita Cubana.
Only a twenty minute ride from Columbia, Coppelia has garnered such a legendary rep that they have a bouncer outside just to make keep things under control. Unlike many 24/7 diners, the dark atmosphere inside isn’t trying to cover up any outstanding dirt and grime; the restaurant felt clean enough while still maintaining that diner charm. Service unfortunately moved at a very relaxed pace, so much so to have our table groaning in distress whenever catching sight of food drifting past us. Some say waiting makes the heart grow fonder, but clearly those people have never experienced the wait period between ordering a Cuban cheeseburger and actually getting to consume said Cuban cheeseburger.
Perusing the menu, you’ll find a wide assortment of quality munchies, from breakfast omelettes to salmon entrees, mostly manageable for a thin wallet like mine. Intel from the street showed that the only way to go in terms of bang for your buck was the Frita Cubana burger, a behemoth of ground sirloin, cheddar cheese, pickles, chicharron, and roasted Cuban pork. The Frita Cubana is essentially the gorgeous lovechild of a juicy cheeseburger and an authentic Cuban sandwich, a concept that had my mouth watering the whole subway ride down.
Let’s break down this burger real quick. It came out alone on a plain dish, looking fairly modest (be more attentive than we were and realize that you must order fries separately). The patty was sufficiently thick and juicy, with cheese dripping down the sides in a very agreeable fashion. Though it was a strong part of the whole operation, the burger quickly moved to the background after the chicharron came into play with the pork. This pork was ready and begging to just melt in your mouth on top of the patty, packed with Cuban spices to send you right down to a beach in Havana puffing on a cigar whilst munching on your Frita Cubana. The tender, spiritual nature of the roast pork was only further elevated by the crispy chicharron, a Cuban specialty of crunchy fried pork rinds, topping off the whole burger in a storm of crispy goodness. Savor this one.
Overall, my experience at Coppelia was a good one. The price was just about right (around $10 for that burger), the place was clean, I got my food eventully, and that burger definitely belongs on any New York eating bucket list. Keep it on your radar and make the stop in at any point on the clock. I give Coppelia four dancing Castro’s out of five.
Location: 207 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011
Hours: All of them