Fascinating history: both modern and ancient. You can scramble around the old fort built to keep out pirates or hang out in Revolutionary Square where Castro would speak, for hours at a time, to more that a million onlookers.
Glamour: you can still attend the night clubs where Frank Sinatra once sang, drive in the gorgeous old rag tops like Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall and drink at the bars Hemingway would belly up to on a regular basis. Rumour has it he would drink anything except maybe water.
Food: really! Everyone has warned me I would love the city but hate the restaurants. They could not have been more wrong. I enjoyed every thing I ate. Here are my four favorites. I promise you will love them!
Café Laurent: located up way to many stairs, we thought the elevator was broken; this is the perfect lunch spot. Great car watching on the street far below while enjoying mixed veggie salads, melt in your mouth Carpaccio and sangria.
Corte de Principe: Everyone, and I mean everyone except us, walked in and kissed Sergio the owner before sitting down at the semi-outdoor red checker clothed tables to eat among the best Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy. Our waiter listed the dishes available. They change every day. We had a shrimp and bean salad and vitello tonatto to start and then bowls of amatriciana and shrimp in garlic and cream sauce pastas. All were fantastic as was the sangria.
Ivan chefs Justo: Named for the two owners, Ivan and Justo, this was the most authentically Cuban food we ate. Luckily we were a big group and so ordered and shared lots of appetizers. My favorite was the fish taco but the salads and cheeses were also note worthy. My suckling pig main, a special recommended by our waiter, was rich, fatty and divine though too big a portion to finish. This funkily decorated series of rooms with the tiniest kitchen imaginable is getting lots of press these days. Reservations for dinner are a must.
Miamar: this was our first meal in Havana and it felt a bit odd walking past the guard into an apartment complex. Nervously following his directions we found ourselves in a beautiful sleek modern space with the most wonderful views out over the sea. The food was good, fresh fish and salads. The sangria was divine!