HAVANA'S TOP 10 BARS WINTER 2019
TOP TEN HAVANA BARS WINTER 2019
Of all the top 5 and top 10 lists I do, this is the most difficult. What constitutes a good bar varies widely from one person to the next, and this list is my attempt to help foreign visitors to Cuba find a good place to drink. A few of these spots may be considered nightclubs, and it is noted in their description, and many offer live music at least a few times a week. Good luck and enjoy Havana!
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.
Espacios has a large outdoor area and is the best for people watching, nice bars both outside and inside. It’s a combination bar-restaurant and nightclub. 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.
La Farmacia in Old Havana has a small bar, the drinks are well made and strong, and the tapas they prepare are the perfect bar food. It’s at the intersection of Pena Pobre and Aguiar Streets, two blocks from the melacon.
Hotel Santander in Old Havana off the malecon has one of the nicest bars in Havana, the hotel is beautiful, but sadly staying there is prohibited to Americans because it’s owned by the Cuba’s armed forces.
Dulce Habana is one of my favorite places to grab a quick drink and regroup. It’s usually empty after 9pm, the menu has lots to choose from, and it has a nice outdoor patio. It’s in Vedado on E Street near most of the action.
Esencia is in a former mansion that has been converted into a hip nightclub. It has a beautiful bar with a small stage that offers live music on weekends. Some nights are standing room only, others less so, but it’s worth a stip. It’s in Vedado just off Linea street and D.
Fabrica de Arte Cubano, FAC, seems to have become a “must-see” for Americans and many other foreigners visiting Havana. It has never been one of my preferred places but has been growing on me. The crowd is locals outnumbered by foreigners, all mostly college age. They offer live music, art exhibitions, movies, and a couple of live musical acts every night. The bar service has improved greatly, and the food will help you hold on to the wee hours. It’s on 23rd and F Street on the western end on Vedado, right by the boundary with Miramar.
El Submarino Amarillo, “The Yellow Submarine,” is Havana’s most popular rock-n-roll venue. Cover bands with some original sounds accompanied by $1.50 Heinekens can’t be beat. The live music starts at 930pm and the second set ends around 1am. The air-conditioning is awesome, the food isn’t!
La Zorra y el Cuervo, world-class Jazz in Vedado! Look for the red London phone booth, don’t eat here, drink, and enjoy the jazz. It’s centrally located near the Hotel Nacional and a few blocks from the malecon.
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 and operated by the Cuban government, the amenities are not the best and neither is the food, but some of the best musicians in Cuba play there.
See you in Havana!
By Frank Gonzalez