); Calle Aguilar – come for a haircut, stay for a whole lot more | Visit Cuba


Calle Aguilar – come for a haircut, stay for a whole lot more

By Carl Wallace / Posted December 2, 2016

dscf8151Once something of a desolate part of Havana, the northerly end of Calle Aguiar toward the Malecon is suddenly one of the most appealing restaurant and art sections of the city.


The revolution happened as recently as the last five years or so. So many parts of the country, including particularly Habana Vieja were basically completely neglected and un-loved.


Then, the government granted some entrepreneurial licenses in just a few categories. One of these was the trade of hairdressers and barbers – they were now able to open privately run shops in their dscf8154own homes. The discussion at the time was that this was a means to perhaps foster some new ways to use buildings and create both a livelihood for Cubans and additional commercial activity. Today, that initiative has shown to deliver some real dividends.


dscf8148One of the most interesting participants in the new program was Papito – a barber with a special flair who opened Artecorte Salon, a shop and a museum of hairdressing at the end of what was then a lonely street. We introduced you to his shop in a story called Papito – come for a haircut, stay for a bright new Havana! That turned out to be a fabulous prediction of what was to come.


Today, Aguiar is vibrating with super-cool new cafes, small bars and galleries. Walking the area dscf8143last week, I spotted La Farmacia in an old pharmacy building on the corner of Pena Pobre welcoming you into the pedestrian area. It’s a sweet café and outdoor patio with comfortable prices and chilled beverages. Café Artes; El Figaro (with the witty slogan “food without hair”) shows off its candy coloured barstools; Bella Hany Pizza serves tasty treats; Pedros Confeccines Textiles offers hip clothing and several other small enterprises that share the vibe make the block a stroll of authentic discovery. And just around the corner toward the access to the Tunnel, is the gracious El Lucero, a stunning café landmark restored in 2012.


Papito remains involved in the street, and probably beams with pride seeing how his initiative has evolved into a charming and interesting corner of a great city.


Carl Wallace