This morning Cass said, ‘Why have I got April Sun in Cuba stuck in my head?’ My reply was because we were there in April, and you (and me) would probably like to be back there right now.
As I am not a travel blog, and don’t travel enough to be a travel blog, I wasn’t going to post about Cuba, but we had some fantastic food over there, and there were a lot of dedicated bar, waiting and kitchen staff at the places we went to. I know a few of you are keen travelers so I wanted to share the places we went to, and also keep a record before it seems too far away!
We did lots of other things aside from this list – 2 of which I will mention. One was a day with a family. This was a part of our tour through Experience Cuba who run small, private tours, and was one of the best days we had. We had a beautiful home meal prepared for us and spent the arvo playing music, drinking beers and playing dominoes. The other was a place where you were led through the cigar + rum culture with a rum sommelier – the idea of enjoying a coffee, rum and cigar, how to drink and how each bring out the flavour of the other.
La Café Escabeche (Obispo Calle) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbGjXfqFesU (not my footage) but same bartender – who made the best daiquiris! This place was also directly below our apartment – pretty handy! All staff made you feel at home and took care with their work. They also had some fantastic regular bands. They also served a delicious version of the many Cuban sandwiches – hot bread bun with pulled pork and chicken with a hot, sweet tomato sauce. These were put on just before 12, and again between 2-3. We noticed that the street food would be served a little before lunchtime, and then again later in the afternoon – perhaps more to suit locals on their way to work either a lunch or dinner shift.
Rooftop bar at the Hotel Raquel – we ended up here pretty late and I got to jump behind the bar and, instructed by the bartender, make us mojitos
Bar Cafe Bosque Bologna Habaguanex (Obispo Calle) – we had our first mojito here (probably the one of the best too – not too sweet) and ate here our first night. I would recommend them for their food as well – tasty, traditional Cuban for the equivalent of a counter meal price.
Street food on Obispo Calle
Palacio del Marqués de San Felipe y Santiago de Bejucal Hotel (Plaza San Francisco) – this was one of the many restaurants recommended by one of our excellent guides. We ate here on our second night. The waiter here was a lovely guy who gave excellent service. The courses we ate were well prepared and delicious. Contemporary plated traditional Cuban dishes at an excellent price – 25 CUCs per head for 5 courses and in a beautiful setting.
Ceci n’est pas un café (side street with many restaurants off of Plaza de la Catedral) – This had an Art theme. I am not a fan of themed restaurants but this was done in a fun way (Dumchamp’s Fountain as a plate, Warhol’s Soup Can as the bill and Magritte’s Pipe as their logo). Meals were well executed versions of traditional Cuban food. The lobster I had was perfectly cooked. We ate here three times – twice for dinner (once Cass and I, and again all four of us for our last night as we couldn’t get Doña Eutimia) and once for lunch. So I can also recommend their sandwiches and crepes!
Azucar Lounge and Bar (Plaza Vieja) – We had a stunning looking G + T, ceviche and small bruschettas here. The ceviche was melt in your mouth. The bar is difficult to spot as it is above another restaurant. You need to enter a doorway and follow the stairs up (there are signs up the stairs). It is quite pricey but the view of the square from the balcony is worth it. With background house music, a contemporary menu and decor, this is a place to go where you could be anywhere in the world.
Doña Eutimia – This is a few doors down from Ceci n’est pas un café. Unfortunately, we did not get to eat here as both nights we tried booking it was full – it is quite a small cafe. Our guide recommended it, and judging by all the other places he recommended I would say it would be a good place.
Caffe Barocco (on the corner of a street the faces the port and one that takes you to the cathedral entrance of Plaza de la Catedral) – Cass and I found this one ourselves. It seemed like more of a hang out for locals. The front of house guy was really welcoming and the fresh breeze off of the port gave you release from the city air. The first time we had a sandwich and a few drinks. They did double cut sandwiches – one layer with ham + mayo and the other layer with the cheese + mayo. Sandwiches were served with fresh, fried thin potatoes and held together with a toothpick and green olive. The next time we started with a jamon plate. It was served with smoked pineapple – which worked really well. I had a tasty Carbonara pasta and Cass had a ham, tuna, chorizo and cheese sandwich. The chorizo was fresh and tender, and I liked the split of a ham, cheese + mayo layer, bread and then a tuna, chorizo + mayo layer. They offered 2 menus – a bar/cafe menu and more of a restaurant menu. Both times we were there we only ate off of the cafe menu, I would have liked to try a meal off of their restaurant menu.