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Havana: Not exactly Cuba, but a fun place to hang out!
I'm guessing that the wall treatment - not the food - is the reason behind this restaurant's name: the walls are full of old black and white pictures and graffitis left behind by customers, a bit like what you'll find at the Bodeguita del Medio in Havana. But the comparison pretty much ends there, since the menu offers an eclectic selection of international dishes, including curried lamb, smoked salmon and crusted brie. I thought the food was OK, though a little on the expensive side. They do however make a wicked mojito! Interestingly, there's a contemporary art gallery at the back of the restaurant which you can visit for free. The sidewalk patio is usually packed, the entire staff is very friendly, and there's always a great atmosphere all around which I think is why people keep coming back.
Favorite Dish: It's gotta be the mojito!
Havana's one of the most popular restaurants in Vancouver's Commercial Drive neighbourhood. Commercial Drive is Vancouver's old Little Italy, but now it's more of an ecclectic Latin, African, Bohemian, hackysack-hippy neighbourhood full of funky restaurants and hole in the wall cafes. No corporate consumerism exists, despite one Starbucks.
Havana fits right into the "funky Commercial Drive restaurant" slot. People always rave about Havana, and while it's fun for a casual meal, it's a bit overrated in my opinion.
Luckily, a lot of effort has gone into the look of Havana to make it appear as if it fell from the Cuban skies. The most famous features of Havana are the distressed walls. Carved into these walls are the names of everyone who has visited. Go ahead and carve your name!
Additionally, there's a hidden art gallery and theatre at the back of the restaurant. Tired of sitting down? Take a stroll into the back and take a look. Maybe you'll even see a dance class taking place!
The food? Not what I'd think of as authentic Cuban, but it's delicious nonetheless. Besides, I've never been to Cuba, so what do I know? However, I'd imagine that people who have had Cuban cuisine would be mildly disappointed.
The service? The service is the most indifferent you'll ever encounter. I've never had great service here, only people who look extremely disinterested in your time, but more interested in their social gossip among the staff.
I also came here for brunch once with a friend who was allergic to anything with onions or garlic in it. Despite telling the servers that she did not want onions or garlic in her food, they presented her with garlic sauce and seemed rather oblivious to their mistake.
However, in general Havana's a good place if you want a very lively patio setting and some Latin/African/American food. Want mojitos? Come here! In the area and want a good dinner? Come here! But don't come here expecting attentive service or authentic Cuban cuisine...
Favorite Dish: The mojitos are *fantastic* - the icy, fizzy, lime, fresh mint and Cuban rum conconction can't be beat here.
I last visited here in late 2004 with my boyfriend and had their Penne de Mer which had pan seared scallops, prawns and mussels in a white wine cream sauce, served with a wedge of feta bread. This was delicious, though a tad expensive at $17.99. I guess that's why the "blah" service is more noticeable. The food's just really, really good... it's too bad the service I've experienced here has never measured up. Despite this, I have read good reviews where people have had really great service. I guess it goes with the ebb and flow of staff. Some servers are likely more personable than others.
In the summer, they offer brunch. Their large patio is kept open all year long, but is extra special sipping mojitos while people watching.
You can also see their menu online, here: http://www.havana-art.com/menu.cfm
Havana: Cuban twist on the Drive
Every time I visit Vancouver I make sure to drop by Havana at least a couple of times... usually I'm staying on or near the Drive so it's never out of the way. What can be said? All of the food is excellent, the menu is well-rounded, the environment is distinct, the patio is great, local beers can be had, and it isn't too pricey. I highly recommend it!
Favorite Dish: anything!
Havana: Best Brunch in Town
When you step into this place, it has so much character, accentuated by the mini-art gallery it houses, that any reason to go there is a good one.
There simply aren't that many restaurants in Canada (yes the whole country) that have as much to offer as far as interior, like this does.
I have been there for lunch, which is really good, but the brunch is amazing.
There are simply so many things on the menu that are good, its hard to choose every time I go.
Favorite Dish: Chorizo Hash. Potatoes fried up with chorizo in a tomato paste and then topped with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. A bit spicy for those who can't handle the heat, but it is a splendour of flavour!!!
Havana: Craving some Cuban?
Havana is the sort of place where it's perfectly acceptable to carve your name into the walls.
Here you'll find nicely presented, delicious Cuban food in a neat setting decorated by photos and cigar boxes.
There is also a gallery and small theatre in the back of Havana supported entirely by them with no outside financial assistance. A place to support your local artists and actors.
Favorite Dish: Sweet potato fries come in a decent size and are great for sharing as an appetizer or if ordering tapas.
- Theater Travel
- Arts and Culture
Havana: Vancouver's El Bodeguito del Medio
This "Cuban"-themed restaurant, art gallery and theatre was modelled after Hemingway's favourite hideout. The walls are all scribbled on, with an intimate small setting and terrace in the front. You can browse the photo gallery while you are waiting for your food.
Favorite Dish: The food is not entirely authentically Cuban (after all, there was no col y remolachas!) but try the Black Bean soup (Bola de nieve) with sour cream and corn bread to start. The plates range from pastas, burgers, fajitas to more interesting fish and meat dishes. Good drinks! (yeah Havana rum!)
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