Want to know our top places to eat and drink in Old Havana? On a recent trip to the capital city of Cuba, we visited some of the coolest and newest places to quench your thirst and taste top traditional cuisine with a twist.
1. Cafe Solas – Bar de los Artistas
This recently opened bar and tapas restaurant is owned and run by two brothers from the Solas family, well known in Cuba for their cultural and film connections. Luis Carlos is closely involved with the Carlos Acosta dance company and the Acosta Foundation, the dance training school founded by Carlos Acosta in Havana for young talented dancers. His brother Aldo is the main chef for Cafe Solas, and produces wonderful traditional recipes with a contemporary twist (you just have to try the tamales en cazuelo!). Another brother is a well known film director and closely associated with the annual Gibara Film Festival, and the decor reflects these dance and cinematic themes with a series of unique photos and posters. The spacious roof terrace has an unusual design feature, with open wooden shutters fixed to the wall. Located on Calle Cuba, just a short walk from Cathedral Square, this place is a very refreshing alternative to the expensive, more touristy establishments you will find elsewhere. Prices are excellent for the quality of the food and the cocktails, and the relaxed chatty staff make you feel very comfortable. One of our top recommendations for where to eat and drink in Old Havana. Vegetarian and vegan options available. See the Cafe Solas facebook page for more info
2. Buena Vista Curry Club
Just on the corner along the same street as Cafe Solas is Cuba’s first and only authentic Indian restaurant, the Buena Vista Curry Club (BVCC). A haven for those who crave a decent curry, chef Bimal from the Lalit restaurant in New Delhi serves authentic Indian food, with vegetarian and vegan options available. Live music is played by experienced local musicians every night of the week – the evening we were there a jazz trio (see photo) were performing and clearly enjoyed playing as much as we did listening to them. It’s a cigar friendly restaurant with a complimentary house blended cigar with every shot of quality Cuban rum. A large colourful statue of Ganesh, the elephant god, graces the central column of the restaurant and was made by well known Havana artist Filiberto Mora. Although a bit more expensive than other restaurants in the area, it is nevertheless a unique and very enjoyable eating experience in the heart of Old Havana. Menu and more information on this link to the BVCC website.
3. El Dandy, Plaza de Cristo
This is retro chic at its best, and Bar El Dandy invites you into its relaxed bohemian atmosphere. Always busy, this place is full not only with visitors enjoying food and drinks, but also artefacts such as old typewriters, posters and pictures of a bygone era. All the artwork on the walls is for sale too. However, there is nothing old about its tapas menu and drinks, and the view over Plaza de Cristo makes this a perfect place to people watch at leisure. Menu and more details on the El Dandy website.
Check out the trendy Clandestino clothes shop around the corner whilst you are in this area, dedicated to producing upcycled urban clothing and accessories and run by a co-operative of young fashion designers and makers.
4. Bar El del Frente
Bar El del Frente on calle O’Reilly is definitely worth a mention too, as the hip place for dinner or cocktails, if you can get a table. Weekend evenings are particularly popular but it is well worth making the effort. The name El del Frente means ‘the one opposite’ and that it because it opened across the road from the well known bar-restaurant O’Reilly 304, which is under the same ownership. It has a spacious airy rooftop terrace which serves excellent food and cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere, and the upbeat ambient music was just at the right volume. Menu and more information on this link to their facebook page.
5. Mediterraneo Havana
Not in Old Havana but definitely worth a quick inclusion in our list is the Mediterraneo Havana restaurant in Vedado district. This establishment is closely linked with an organic farm outside the city which produces many of the raw ingredients prepared at the restaurant, and a visit to the farm can be arranged if you want to know more. Check out the menu on this link.
Want to spend some time in Havana exploring the historic heart of the capital city? Or to brush up your salsa skills? Get in touch with us to organise a customised itinerary including accommodation in small, friendly homestays and guesthouses, a guided walking tour to learn about the fascinating history of Havana and its culture and private lessons with top dance tutors. More details on this link to our website.