A cluster of friendly, low-key drinking/eating jewels has sprouted on Calle Brasil in the area of Plaza del Cristo. Brasil (also known as Teniente Rey) runs a straight line east from the dome on the Capitolio to the harbour through the heart of Habana Vieja. Four blocks south of Obispo. Now you can find it! On Brasil, you’ll find a cluster of what might be considered hipster venues – each plays great music, is informal and affordable with enjoyable art and happy staff.
Already well discovered is the very fine Chanchullero (“Hemingway never was here”) and around the corner on Calle Bernaza is El Patchanka with its signed walls and punk quotes. Another couple of blocks toward the harbour is Art Pub, another small pub with a little calmer atmosphere and a little bit more sophisticated art on the walls with terrific food and a casual environment.
Opened a year ago as a privately run paladare by Ariel, a long time bartender at the Floridita with a bent for photography, the bar is lined with beautiful shots on every wall and littered with old school cameras and photography equipment. Melanie, the boss’ daughter was our hostess during half-price cocktail happy hour (every day 6-7 pm.)
Like so many young Cubans I met, Melanie loves her country and after graduating as a nurse served a goodwill medical stint in Chile. When she returned, Melanie discovered she loved welcoming her guests and embraced the bar with gusto.
When I suggested the half-price mojitos could use some food accompaniment, Melanie tipped me that the fish was fresh and delicious and she was certainly accurate. 7 bucks. None of the menu items are very expensive at all. Shrimps at 7.50 are most expensive of the compact tasty menu items. The cocktail menu (all bargain priced at 2.95 even when it’s not happy hour) is considerably longer!
Tucked quite away from the heavy traffic tourist areas the Art Pub is an authentic reflection of the new restaurant scene in Havana – young, fun and delicious. The half price happy hour is a Habana Vieja must. But please don’t tell everyone or the place might lose its secret charm.
Arte Pub, Calle Brasil No. 306 e/ Aquacate y Compostela, La Habana Vieja