>Since we were returning to Havana one night earlier than originally anticipated, I found us a room in an amazing casa particular. Starving, we all headed down to Taberna de la Muralla, a brewery I had read about – the only one in all of Havana.
It really didn’t matter what the food tasted like as drinking beer that wasn’t Bucaneros or Cristal was such a delicious and welcome moment. The beer comes out in a dispensa: a tall, clear glass tube filled with beer, featuring a spout at the bottom and a thinner tube filled with ice running up its center.
The food was actually quite good and the best food out of a so-called “restaurant” that we had while there. The small menu featured variations of grilled-to-order meats and seafood. I had read in many guides that the kabobs were the way to go so that’s what I ordered:
The brewery itself is located on a beautiful corner overlooking Plaza Vieja, in Habana Vieja. The moon was high and full and the wrought-iron tables were filled with guests enjoying the band.
I can still remember how damn refreshing that nice amber ale tasted. Heaven.
The next day, we all decided to go to the beach, a short bus ride from Habana. First we had lunch in a paladar overlooking el Prado, Paladar Dona Blanquita. It was as if you had just walked into someone’s home randomly and asked them to feed you. Fried chicken and black beans, of course.
We took a bus to the public beach which after spending the day before in a cramped van on the way back for three hours was really fabulous. This is how we felt after the car ride the day before:
Some men on the beach had set up a make shift bar where they rented the chair, sold beer, mojitos and pina coladas out of a cooler, and basically waited on you. It was relaxed, cheap and welcome.
We had arranged to meet our travel buddies, George and his lady friends at the beach. That night we all planned to take a bus to Miramar, the supposed culinary destination of Havana. I wanted us to eat at what was said to be the best paladar in all of Havana – El Aljibe – which Lonely Planet referred to as a, “rip-roaring culinary extravaganza, delighting both Cuban and foreign taste buds for years.” Specifically, the hype surrounds the gastronomic mysteries of just one dish, the pollo asado (roast chicken) with a naccompanying bitter-orange secret sauce. Sadly, we were interrupted and convinced by a local to try another place which she would lead us to. Disappointed that we couldn’t take a bus to the place we had originally intended, we relented as many cabs would be required to shuttle the 11 of us. It was the worst decision of the trip and I regret not being able to eat or explore Miramar. The food that night really did me in and I was completely over black beans, white rice, and fried chicken. I had eaten enough. And I did not care for any more.
The restaurant was in the upstairs floor of a large compound. We would have never found it on our own. Strange and as Michelle would say, “very dubious.” We should have known. Or really, we did and didn’t care.
At least there was a large chair outside the joint for us to amuse ourselves on.
That night we wandered the streets of Havana Vieja with our travel buddies to enjoy our last sultry Cuban evening.
We found a bar, the Cafe Paris, with a loud jazz and salsa band and everyone ordered drinks except me. I was done with beer for a little while. I was no longer craving the iced frothiness of Bucaneros.
It was a wonderful way to end the trip – among boisterous and happy friends, loud music, dancing and drinks. It was an idyllic evening to a insane trip. It was nice.