So, continuing on from my earlier…
6. La Terraza / Prado 309. Always on my list to hit. Amazingly, this is the first trip that I’ve not had the leg-of-lamb. Tried the mixed grill instead. AND they were unfortunately out of my grilled octopus appetizer. Still was a great meal, with great company and conversations with Luca and Michel from Europe (both in the cigar industry, there as part of the Portmann group for the festival) – great company and conversations, so not many pictures unfortunately.
7. El Aljibe. The “chicken shack”, as I like to say. Chicken, rice and beans, fresh bread, and other traditional sides – nothing special really, but that’s actually what makes it special. The sauce is made from a mixture of the chicken drippings and the squashed juices from fermented oranges – it’s amazing on the chicken itself, but also mopped up with pieces of the fresh crusty bread. The cigar shop next door isn’t too bad either. A great open-air spot. Very fresh and well-done food, even for all it’s simplicity, as a state-run restaurant (just beware of giant tour bus groups coming through occasionally).
8. Cafe Laurent. Having never ate here before, but hearing good things generally, I was almost detered from a report that Nino did about an experience that he and Yannick had there in November. However, I gave it a shot, being just a small 2-block walk from the Nacional. I’m glad I did.
Some fresh, piping hot and wonderful croquets (only 4 CUC’s), and a nice “creamy seafood rice” (10 CUC’s). Not quite an actual paella, but a saucy variant of one, and it still hit the spot. Washed down with the obligatory mid-day mojitos. A Japanese gentleman sitting at the table next to me was having the mixed grill with lobster tail, shrimp skewer, etc., and said it was divine, and much better than when he had himself been there in November.
It’s also a great little spot with a nice terrace and some pleasant views. A very nice mid-way spot to lunch on the way between the Hotel Nacional and the Habana Libre. I’m glad I gave it a chance, but I don’t think I’d want to be there with a larger group, due to space limitations.
9. Hotel Saratoga. The rooftop pool patio is a great little spot to visit – not for a swim, but to have a drink, order some munchies, and take in the wonderful view at sunset. I made sure to hit this after one day of walking around Habana Vieja, and dug into a cigar, a flan, and some Cubatas, all while I took in the sunset over Havana, lighting up the Capitolio, Parque Central, Parque de la Fraternidad, the Gran Teatro, and the various other landmarks.
10. VIPHabana. A new spot that was introduced to us by Yannick and Nicky. Wonderful. Had a great langosta dinner with Cubatas and a flan – doesn’t get too much better than that. The outside patio that we were seated at was wonderful – as Nino stated, indoors was almost a bit too pristine, and Euro-cliche for most of us, but the mellow piano music drifted outside to us on a wonderful evening. This is where I also unfortunately was succumbed to Gino’s hassling about my after-dinner cappuccino, LOL (and yes, to remind again, while he had a pink lighter and bright yellow pants on).
More to come…