Our city ‘cheat sheets’ are versions of the notes I send to friends when they are going to a city I know and love. x laura aviva
(There is a restaurant attached, EL COCINERO, that is a good stop pre-FAC for drinks and snacks. It’s a good idea to book in advance.)
A stroll through the NECROPÓLIS CRISTÓBAL COLÓN, Havana’s sprawling cemetary, also provides a really intriguing glimpse of Cuba’s history via insanely ornate mable structures and religious iconography.
FINCA VIJIA, Hemingway’s old home, is about a half hour outside of the centeral Havana. It’s of course so super touristy, but it’s pretty fascinating in a voyeur kind of way. (Especially to see the boat that he allegedly used to smuggle rum back and forth to Florida.)
See THE NATIONAL BALLET (in either practice or performance).
Other notable paladares: LE CHANSONNIER and ATELIER (reserve for outside on the rooftop terrace.)
EL DE FRENTE Great place for a drink and a snack in OLD HAVANA. (The same owners also have O’REILLY across the street.)
DOÑA EUTEMIA A Havana institution which is maybe a little heavy on the hype. But there’s something kind of great about being tucked inside the two cozy rooms. Order lamb ropa vieja and mojitos.
SANTY PESCADOR On the outskirts of Havana, in a spot that’s not easy to find. Super fresh ceviche and surprisingly good sushi in a very casual setting on the water overlooking fishermen’s boats.
Also: AMIGOS DEL MAR (quirky little place on the water, best at the end of the week, good vibe), ALIJIBE for a roast chicken lunch (also a good spot to buy cigars, on the ground floor here), and SIÁ KARÁ, a great bar that also serves snacks.
ROMA is a bar in OLD HAVANA that feels like a secret discovery accessed from street level via a ramshackle elevator.
ALMA is a small boutique housed inside a mansion in MIRAMAR. The owner, American Alexandra Oppmann, has done a really strong job pulling together Cuban artist- and artisan-made goods, along with recycled wares. This is the place to shop for gifts (skip all of the market stalls in OLD HAVANA).
ANTICUARIA BELKIS is situated in a former mansion in VEDADO. It’s floors and floors of knickknacks and antiques piled atop one another, and it can be a real treasure trove for a serious hunter.
CLANDESTINA is a cute, small, trendy graphics-driven store, with t-shirts and other miscellanea. They’ve also put together and printed their own Havana guide, available in the store and worth picking up.
I was really charmed by the perfume store HAVANA 1791 (the name points to the founding date). The interior of the space is gorgeous (very old-school apothecary), and perfumes are all made from natural ingredients.