Coppelia is an iconic (and huge!) ice cream parlor on the corner of La Rampa (Avenida 23) and Calle L, which is a really fun, busy corner in Vedado. Waiting in line for the ice cream is also a very 'Cuban' experience and involves a lot of people watching. Here's the deal, if you're a tourist or you don't look Cuban, they may ask you if you want to go in a different (shorter) line for ice cream. Unless you are in a hurry, you don't! That ice cream is for the tourists--sometimes it's different flavors (there are two flavors each day) than the long-line ones and it costs 1 CUC ($1 USD)/scoop! Where as if you have a little patience you can wait in line with the Cubans and get ice cream for 1 peso MN (5 cents USD)/scoop, PLUS get the added bonus of interacting with real Cubans (we had a great time talking to a couple who sat at the table with us and practicing our Spanish) and 'living like a local.' Coppelia should definitely be on your short list for cheap attractions in Cuba!
Favorite Dish Everyone orders ensaladas (5 scoops)--and sometimes three or four of them! An ensalada mixta is a mix of both the ice cream flavors for that day, so that's what I recommend!
This is a Cuban institution: fabulous ice cream, ridiculously inexpensive prices (for us foreigners at least) and big long line-ups.
There is NO point in going to Coppelia's and skipping the line, going to the Yuma area (foreigners) and paying in CUC. Seriously, part of the fun is waiting. There are different lines depending on where you want to sit: the shaded patio, garden, downstairs on the stools, upstairs at the tables (I prefer upstairs) and each area will have different specials/ice cream availability.
It is best to find a line-up on the Rampa (across the street from the Habana Libre) and ask for "el ultimo/la ultima persona" so you can take your place in line. Watch the people go by as you wait, which could be 15-45 minutes depending.
Favorite Dish An "ensalada" is a dish of 4 scoops of ice-cream with chocolate sauce on it. There are also cakes and sundaes. Ask the waitress for the flavours of the day, which could just be chocolate and vanilla or more fancy options like mango, coconut (coco), riza de chocolate (chocolate/vanilla swirl). An "ensalada" is 5 pesos nacionales (that's about 20 cents). Come prepared with your nacionales, not CUC.
Coppelia's was somewhat of a let down and over-rated but still when it comes to Cuban food it was ok. Somewhat humourous to line up for an hour for ice cream, beer sure, but ice cream.....
Favorite Dish uh duh - ice cream
Coppelia itself is the national brand in Cuba, with ice cream parlors in every towns and cities. Perhaps this one in Havana is the most famous one. Built in the 1960s, the main structure is shaped like a spaceship inside a park. You can sit upstairs inside or outside in the garden. The place is always jam packed with long lineups. The day I went, ppl had to wait for at least 30 minutes to get in. Of course, if you like to pay in USD, then you can skip the lineup.
There were about half a dozen flavours to choose from, and the price was determined by weight. A bowl with two scoops was about $2.75, which you must finish fast or else it'll all be melted away in no time!