What? Fresh ingredients locally sourced? Organic vegetables and herbs? Vegan and vegetarian offerings on the menu? Zut alors! Imposible! But it’s all true. Not only does a delicious table await you here, it’s a healthy one as well!
There are no shortage of detractors when it comes to Cuban cuisine. This opinion has largely been a result of unimaginative buffets at some of the “all inclusive” resorts where many guests at the end of their week on the beach begin to eye their shoe leather for a little potential flavor and variety. Imagine their shock and horror or, rather, their joy and celebration were they to they step down a small corridor off of Plaza Vieja into the charming and welcoming Café Bohemia.
Nestled in court yard on Old Havana’s “newest” old square,
Plaza Vieja is quickly becoming ground central for many walking tours, foodies and people watchers. There is a brew pub on one corner, a tony shopping strip, a modern photography gallery, an elegant massage and wellness spa and a bustling elementary school, smack in the middle of it all, contributing to a busy hive of daily activity. Café Bohemia offers a quiet and sheltered refuge from the square’s hustle and bustle and some fine cuisine to sooth the soul.
Named after one of Cuba’s longest lasting cultural magazines, “Bohemia” in a country where journals on film, culture, dance and literature do not exactly flourish, the patriarch of the café’s owner was a long standing contributor to said magazine. In part, this restaurant is a homage to him and his colleagues’ writings as well as to the overall Cuban creative spirit.
And culinary creativity looms large at Café Bohemia. Vegetarians and vegans who previously wondered how they might possibly survive a vacation in Havana can now gleefully camp out here for a week . Actually, they can simply rent a room upstairs in one of the boutique apartments (starting at 70 CUCs per night) and be perfectly content without leaving the Plaza, if they so choose!
Back at the restaurant, Chef Dayron will be found whipping up anything from an “Italian Style Paninis” such as the one that features a “Vegan baguette with organic vegetables grilled with extra virgin oil: 6 CUC” to a salad called “Fresa Y Chocolate” which features “seasonal fruit salad with extra dark chocolate , balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil: 6 CUC”( now that’s a salad even I could love! Where do I sign up for this vegetarian thing?)
To help wash everything down, I ordered a Limonada Frape (frozen lemon juice), (2 CUC)
which, I have to say, was the best I have had on the island! Wow. A quenching dream on a sizzling day!
Non-vegetarians are not left out here either as there are offerings of pasta, grilled chicken, tuna and chorizos either in paninis or salads or as even as a main course.
A full bar along with an impressive selection of fresh fruit juices awaits you as well. Plus a special breakfast/brunch with all of your needed caffeine boosts are also on the menu.
So if you find yourself wandering around Plaza Vieja desperate for a little comfort food, a drink or just some shelter from the maddening crowd, head over to Café Bohemia. They will help you find your center again and nourish you at the same time.
Café Bohemia: Calle S. Ignacio 364, Plaza Vieja, Old Havana, 10400.
Tel.: 53 5 4031568
Prices September 2016
A.J. Twist s a Montreal-based travel writer and photographer
who thinks dark chocolate on salad is the cure for all evils.