A cool and colourful restaurant and bar, in Newcastle’s popular Cloth Market, that transports you to old Havana. A place for foodie fiestas, topped off with live Latin tunes, spicy weekend brunch with real Cuban coffee and good, strong rum cocktails that take you back to sun-soaked holidays. The vibe is deliciously laid-back throughout the day up until early evening, but come nightfall (especially at the weekend), the atmosphere transforms. Perch you bottoms at Havana Club bar, or head for the dance floor, and revel in the fun, carnival vibes.
Décor-wise, expect a vibrant mix of sunny colours; zingy lime green paint, turquoise chairs and mosaic tiles, bright, vintage prints behind the bar and ruby-red chairs. It’s a lot bigger than you might think, too. Make your way through the doors and spot, whether at one of the funky tiki tables, out on the Santiago Sun Terrace, or in Castro’s Corner, perfect for private parties and gatherings.
Sweet-toothed drinkers will no doubt love the bar’s Mojito range – go classic, or mix things up with fruity flavour combos such as raspberry and blackberry, cucumber and elderflower, lavender and apple, or blood orange. There’s all types of boozy rum punch, too, guaranteed to get you in the party spirit, lazier, easy-to-sip ‘on the beach’ drinks, ranging from Caribbean Iced Tea to classic Caipirinha, a few twists on the classic G&T and a handful of Daiquiri options. Nab two of whatever takes your fancy for £10 on Sundays, or during Happy Hour (3pm-7pm) Monday to Friday. Oh, and if you aren’t a cocktail fan, there’s good old wine and beer on the menu as well.
Go all out with tapas – either of the meat, fish or veg variety. Variety is the spice of life, so we recommend ordering a few of each. Main plates are packed with fresh flavours, inspired from Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean – things like grilled red snapper, giant empanada, filled with Caribbean chicken, pineapple and cheese or crunchy salads with tropical toppings. Big-time burritos, stuffed with pork and pineapple, chicken and guacamole and mushroom and beans, add a taste of Mexico and the cheesy, spicy burgers and sizzlingly-good sandwiches are perfect lunchy picks.
If you aren’t beginning your feast here with guacamole and chips, then you’re doing it wrong. Guac is pretty standard stuff and yet so many places manage to get it wrong, but thankfully, this place knows what it takes – creamy, soft-as-butter avo, mixed with red onion, tomato, fresh garlic and a squeeze of two of lime. You get loads of it, too, in a big bowl. Delish. For starters, we advise diving head first into the tapas menu – who doesn’t love sharing a few ‘picky bits’ to get things started? Feeling carby, we tried the ‘cheeseburger’ tacos (a mix of juicy, seasoned beef and melting Manchego on soft corn tacos), the chicken quesadillas (we loved the crisp, grilled tortilla and the sticky, smoky marinade the meat was cooked in) and the charred halloumi – a mix of squeaky, salty nuggets, tender butternut squash and courgette, tossed in a sticky chilli jam glaze. You get three for £14 which, considering the generous portion size, isn’t too bad. Over to mains and while our chum indulged in a burrito (£10) the size of his head, filled to the brim with smoky rice and black beans, tender strips of pork and juicy pineapple, we settled on the jerk fried chicken wrap (£9). It was a triumph: the meat was falling-off-the-bone juicy, lightly fried in a crisp, golden batter, the black beans were comforting and spicy and the dressing was to-die-for – a mix of goats cheese and honey for some sweetness. For puds, it had to be churros (£4.50) – Spanish doughnut sticks, dusted in cinnamon sugar, which we dipped in a silky chocolate, rum and caramel sauce. One portion provides more than enough sugary goodness for two, but if you’re greedy (like us), then why not order another. The chocolate brownie (£4.50) stole our hearts, drizzled in more of that rum-caramel sauce, served with fresh strawberries and a sprinkling of basil sugar. Add a scoop or two of frosty coconut ice cream and you have yourselves a winner. Delish.