To quote Anthony Bourdain, “Havana looks the way you want it to look, or at least the way I want it to look.” You can’t go to Cuba, specifically Havana, and expect perfection. It is literally a city in ruins. A city that is just now seeing some renovations. But, man, is it beautiful. The decay is what makes it beautiful, what sets it apart. Cuba is changing, there is no doubt, and with that I am sure will come more and more restoration. In the end that is good. Safer and better for everyone, I assume. Selfishly I think it will change the vibe of the city, so I am glad I was able to get to Cuba when I could. I cannot wait to visit again, I can’t imagine not going back soon or at least in the upcoming years. There was so much I was not able to get around to doing. It will be different, though, I am sure of that.
On our last night in this magical city we went to a more upscale restaurant, La Guarida. Although the food was probably only a solid 8/10, the space and the ambiance was 10/10. It is in an abandoned mansion and most of it is still just that, abandoned. They have a large outdoor terrace for dinning and a really cool bar area. The views were spectacular and appropriate to take in on the last night after such a wonderful time in Cuba. We watched the sun go down while drinking our 1,235,456th mojito of the trip. It was a special Havana night.
Although smacked right in the middle of Centro Havana, La Guarida is not in a particularly touristy area, so I couldn’t help but feel a little silly dressed up asking locals what turn I should take next (as we got a little lost). After a few people helped us along the way it hit me that I thought a little too highly of myself to think that. They didn’t care, they were just happy to help. In the end they went back to their party and their drinks and their friends. Taking in the same Havana night.
If You Want To Know:
Where I stayed- I cannot recommend Casa Randy enough! I heard time and time again, to really experience the culture you should stay with a family. In the last 5 or 10 years, renting rooms to tourist has become legal. Fanny and her family were the best of the best. The conversation and hospitality were out of this world. A few pluses- breakfast, AC in rooms, and amazing (AMAZING!) location. I linked to the whole casa, but you can also rent only one room for about 30$/ person/night.
Where I Ate- La Guarida was a space not to forget. The food was good, and for being one of the best restaurants in Havana was pretty inexpensive. Like I said I wished the food was better, but maybe it was just my high hopes. It was still a great time and it was nice to have more of a fusion twist on Cuban food. I would still recommend it to anyone. Early (6 or 7pm) reservation is recommended.
Dona Eutimia was the best actual restaurant we ate at the whole time. A wonderful variety of seafood and complimentary rum shots. We did not have a reservation and were lucky and got in with group of six, although the place was packed. Be sure to get the Frothy Mojito.
303 or 304 O'Riely we did not have such luck with. Once we were in Cuba we were told 304 had the best cocktails. We tried twice to get in both 304 and 303 without any luck. We walked around the space of 303 and it was very cute and trendy. And, yes, the cocktails looked amazing
Where I Toured- Ernest Hemingway Museum is a bit of a drive (a taxi will take you there and wait as you walk around) but it was well worth it. Bonus on top are the strong drinks and great live music
Locally Sourced Tours- We did 2 wonderful tours with this group. One was a private tour to Vinales and the second was a walking tour with an old car ride in Havana. The walking tour, although you look like a huge tourist, was amazing. Joe, our guide, was knowledgeable and personable and the lunch included was the best meal we had. It was on a beautiful private rooftop with great meat and vegetarian food options. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip. Havana knows how to do roof tops.
Walking tour lunch views
Do you spot the Elephant? Thanks for the photo, Alyssa!
Best Travel Buddies