TOP 10 HAVANA BARS
Updated: Oct 3, 2019
HAVANA'S TOP TEN!
This is a hard list to put together because of the varied opinions of what constitutes a good bar. These places have full bars, some have live music and most will have a crowd of mostly locals. Most offer live music and all deserve a visit.
1. Corner Café is in Vedado near the Melia Cohiba Hotel and offers great live music in a small venue that is usually crowded, they offer cold beers and well-made drinks, decent food, and fast service. Anyone from drummer Oliver Valdes and trumpet player Julito Padron, to Cimafunk or Kelvis Ochoa could be playing. It’s in Vedado, just steps from the malecon.
2. Espacios has a large outdoor area and is the best for people watching. It’s sort of a combination bar/nightclub/restaurant. It has a good menu and the best food of all ten on the list. Espacios is in Playa about a ten-minute walk from Vedado and the Fabrica de Arte Cubano.
3. Up & Down is in Vedado near the Hotel Melia Cohiba and steps from the Corner Café. They serve great drinks, the beers are cold, and in the summer the air-conditioning is the best in Havana.
4. The Hotel Armadores de Santander in Old Havana has one of the nicest bars in the city, this is a small hotel bar to have a drink, right across the street from the harbor and worth stopping in and checking it out if you’re nearby.
5. Dulce Habana is one of my favorite places to grab a quick drink and plan my next steps. It’s usually empty after 9pm, their menu has a varied selection of good food, and the outside bar is one of the nicest in Havana. It’s a couple of blocks from O’lala in Vedado on E Street.
6. Esencia is in a former mansion that has been converted into a hip club. It has a beautiful bar with a small stage at the end where musicians play one of two days a week. Depending on the night it may be extremely crowded, usually with a heavily Cuban crowd. Good drinks and food. It’s in Vedado a block from Up & Down, just off Linea street.
7. EFE has the best crowd! In Vedado on 23rd and F Street, the crowd is locals and foreigners, mostly college age. The drinks are a little pricey, but there’s either live music or a DJ, and a great crowd if you’re lucky. The food and service are very good.
8. El Submarino Amarillo, The Yellow Submarine, dedicated to the Beatles, and Havana’s most popular rock and roll venue. It draws Havana’s best rock & roll cover bands which usually start playing at 930pm and end their second set at around 1230am. Great crowd of rockers, with cheap beers and good A/C. They serve food but I wouldn’t recommend it!
9. La Zorra y el Cuervo, world-class Jazz in Vedado! Very limited menu, you should probably eat somewhere else, but centrally located near the Hotel Nacional and a few blocks from the malecon.
10. The Jazz Café Miramar offers world-class Jazz in Havana’s Playa neighborhood. The place has great acoustics and some of Cuba’s best Jazz musicians play here nightly. The menu is limited, and the food is not very good, but the beers are cold and the drinks strong.
The last three are owned by the Cuban government, hence the so-so food, but they still draw the best musicians in Cuba.
Have fun and enjoy Havana!
By Frank Gonzalez