It has been a huge bucket list thing for me to travel to Cuba and when my friend asked me if I wanted to spend the Easter holidays on Cuba with her, I was not in doubt at all! We bought our flight tickets online and two months later, we were on our way to visit the biggest island of the Caribbean.
It was a totally unique experience to be picked up by a cuban in an old Chevrolet Bel Air and drive towards raw and beautiful Havana. I was amazed by its astounding history, raw architecture, music, dance and hospitality. The Cubas is one of the most genuine friendly and happy people who takes you in with big smiles and open arms. Its very hard to not fall in love with this unique country where the latino music is loud and the bars full of tasty mojitos.
Even though that Cuba is an unique travel experience, its still a bit hard to find some vegan options because Cuban food mostly consist of meats, rice and beans. A really good advice is to stock up your bag with dry fruits, nuts, crackers and powerbars. However, I have roamed the streets of Old Habana to give you guys a little guide where to find some delish vegan food and tasty cocktails:
BAR EL DANDY Y GALERIA
El Dandy is a hip snack and cocktail bar in the Old Havana and is one of the coolest bars I have ever visit. The interior is kitsch with old photos hanging on the wall, old American furniture mixed with new ones and sweet latino vibes. Their menu is a mix of Cuban, Mexican and Spanish cuisine and they have a little range of vegan options including spicy cuban veggie soup, sweet potato fries, fruit platters, tapas and salads. This place is perfect to enjoy a breakfast, lunch or a pre-dinner drinks or just having a cold beer and mingle with the cool Cuban city kiddos in vibrant Havana.
Location: Street Brasil # 401 corner Sreet Villegas | Plaza de Cristo in Old Havana, Havana, Cuba // http://www.bareldandy.com
Cool kitch interior with some few but tasty vegan choices
Cafe Bohemia is a little boutique hotel with its own restaurant located at Plaza Vieja de La Habana. This little cute food spot is probably the one in Havana with the biggest vegan food options and many of their dishes can be veganized. They also do fresh juices and tasty cocktails. You can find La Bohemia on Airbnb, if you want to stay in one of their studios or suites within walking distance to everything.
Location: Calle St. Igancio 364, 10400 Havana // http://www.havanabohemia.com
A tiny, trendy restaurant specializing in gin cocktails and contemporary Cuban cuisine that’s unassumingly sandwiched between two shabby buildings on the outskirts of Habana Vieja, it’s easy to walk past altogether. But it’s clear from first entry that here is something quite different.
Framed glowing reviews from the Miami Herald hang proudly on the walls, cool bartenders shake up incredible-looking cocktails, and the menu offers several veggie plates. From pumpkin soup with cilantro to soft veggie tacos stuffed with beans and seasonal vegetables, O’Reilly 304 reflects the slowly developing restaurant scene in Cuba.
Location: Habana & Aguiar, 10400 Havana
Lamparilla Tapas & Cervezas
Another funky and hip hot spot for dinning and having tasty cocktails. You’ll find it a respite from the hustle and bustle of the old city. The space is completely open and it’s decorated with a funky mix of ’50s memorabilia, random vintage objects and beautiful murals inspired by ’50s commercial Coca-Cola adds. A big sign on the wall ironically reads “No Wifi, Please talk to each other.” Here you can find some simple veggie dishes to go along with your cocktails – and yes its more cocktails for dinner and veggie sides as a snack!
Location: Lamparilla 361 e/Aguacate y Villegas, 10400 Havana
And of course, beside the restaurants or paladars as they call them on Cuba, there is small veggie markets or individual sellers who sells fruits, veggies or fresh coconuts for a living. To be totally honest, Cuba was not the country where I had my best fresh coconuts, as they pluck them too ripe, but if you have a good coconut eye, maybe you can spot a younger one among the pile.
It is always a benefit if you can speak a bit Spanish as there is not many Cubans who can speak or understand English and most of it is very basic, so I’ll recommend you to learn some Spanish sentences so you can explain that you’re a vegan and don’t consume meat, eggs or diary products. Well its easier that way and it helped me a lot on my journey around Cuba
I don’t eat meat: Yo no como carne
I don’t eat diary products: Yo no como productos lacteos
I don’t eat eggs: Yo no como huevos
I’m vegan: Soy vegano
Having myself a fresh coconut
Fresh coconuts are available everywhere on Cuba
You can buy fresh fruits and veggies for a cheap price at the local markets