These spots were not listed as ‘gay’ on the web, but we felt safe being out and affectionate there. In fact, we may have seen more lezzies at these spots than at the strictly gay ones.
1. Casa de la Bombilla Verde
This charming venue is intimate, recognizable by the bare-green bulb hanging out front and the pussy-forward wall art. There, amidst the intergenerational crowd (who somehow sang along to the entire show), we saw another lesbian couple in the wild. As if that wasn’t enough, our heartstrings were tugged at further by the tasty caipirissimas and veggie tacos, both reasonably priced. The waitresses seemed to be twins; attentive and cool in their oversized shirts and leather sandals.
2. Fabrica de Arte Cubano
No to spotting lesbians, but yes to spotting lesbian art. And yes to audible cooing as we posed for a kiss. We rang in the New Year at the FAC, strolling through galleries and dancing downstairs and upstairs and downstairs again – basically just dodging Beat It, which came on every five tracks. This repurposed factory’s inner recesses seem endless, with rooftops, gardens, loft spaces, tiny shops, and several bars. We drank a sleek smoky cocktail and saw some dazzling soul singers. We also met some gregarious Mexicans who had come to Havana in order to be ‘fully present’ for the countdown, but spent it on their phones instead – alas! The FAC is clearly a cornerstone of the local art scene – not to be missed!
3. Cuba Libro
There are two giant pride flags garnishing the fence around this popular courtyard café. After waiting for a seat – it was packed to the gills – we did a crossword while drinking funky milkshakes and spotting some baby teen lesbians. We were invited to take a book from their free stack, but after rooting through a couple dozen suspense novels, we walked away empty handed. Beware of the dart board directly in front of the bathroom!
4. Bar H
Although unnamed on Google, this lush patio garden is hard to miss. It’s located on Avenida 23 between Calle H and Calle I (west of el Cochinoto, which is listed). We were swooned by the daquiris, and the menu just got better and better as we tried the ceviche, the fritura de malanga, the ensalata and the tostones al ajo. We had to go back three times! The staff was friendly and efficient, sporting asymmetrical collars and platform shoes. The playlist shuffled between old soul and son. The kitchen stays open til four am. Mwah!
5. El Gallego
This outdoor corner dive seems to be a meeting spot for neighbourhood folk to smoke while tinkering with their motorbikes. Although our tuna salads were rather basic, we loved the energy, the Cristales, and the flea-infested pups gathered at our feet. The staff requested some Montreal reggaeton, so we obliged with Mariposa.
El Malecon: We watched the sunset here as much as we could. All spots are different, all spots are good, particularly at both ends. After dusk, the Malecon fills up with fishermen who may ask you for your empties.
Museo de Bellas Artes, Edificio Cubano: A copious amount of top-tiered Cuban art over several floors. It’s a lot to digest, and there are hardly no women artists featured (like anywhere), but it is definitely worth a long visit. We wish we’d gotten a tour!
Cabaret Parisien al Hotel Nacional: Highly kitsch, highly heteronormative, highly problematic intro featuring a re-enactment of colonization – but still, a fun display of Cuba’s unreal musical and dancing talents. The costume palette blew us away once we got past the frills.
La Zorra Y El Cuervo: The music was great, but don’t expect to see a single Cuban in this jazz venue – even the toilets are marked in English. That being said, the drinks were affordable and the band was lit: an eclectic quartet starring a drummer in a golf hat and a mellifluous singer.
Museo de Arte Decorativos: This museum is actually a dead rich lady’s home. It displays her ornate furniture, gaudy silverware, and shamefully large collection of international artefacts. The whole experience felt decontextualized and somewhat odd.
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