CubaNightlife, Restaurants and Cafes


CubaRestaurants and Cafes

Traditional Cuban cuisine is a mix of the various colonial influences that the island has had over the centuries. Cuban food combines Spanish, and to a lesser extent, African, cooking styles with the flavors and spices of the Caribbean. Many Cuban dishes are rice-based and incorporate roasted, spiced meats, when available. One of the most staple Cuban foods is a simple dish of rice and beans.

Dining in Cuba is different from eating other places because most of Cuba’s restaurants are state-run. The communist regime has kept fairly strict control over Cuba’s dining scene, meaning that most visitors can only dine in tourist approve restaurants, most of which are located inside hotels. The food in these tends to be mediocre, although at some of the higher end hotels and better state-run restaurants, good meals with decent international wines can certainly be had around Cuba. El Hurón Azul (Corner of Calle 17 and Calle H, Havana; +53 (0)7 836 3636) is a rather upmarket Cuban restaurant serving typical specialties to discerning tourists and important locals.

Though not especially known for its culinary contributions, Cuba’s nightlife is notoriously fun. This image goes back to the 1950s, when Americans were visiting the country regularly and taking part in the swinging Cuban nightlife scene, which revolved largely around dancing. Latin American style dances, such as salsa, rumba and tango have long been associated with Cuba, and other forms of ballroom dancing also became popular during that era.

To get in on the action, head out to one of the many music clubs and restaurants around Cuba. Havana is a good place to start, although of course there are nightlife options all over Cuba. For salsa and other Latin American dancing, Las Orishas (Corner of Martí and Lamas Guanabacoa) is a live music restaurant in Havana with a great patio where you can watch (or partake) in gritty rumba; meanwhile, Casa de las Tradiciones (Calle Rabí 154, Santiago de Cuba; +53 (0)22 65 3892) is a cramped little authentic joint in Santiago de Cuba.

As an alternative, stepping into the Tropicana (Calle 72 at Calle 41 & 45), Marianao, Havana; +53 (0)7 267 1010) is one of the most famed cabarets in Cuba, putting on a 2-hour nightly extravaganza of dancing showgirls in colorful costumes.