Sia Kara Cafe and Bar

One of Havana's most unique establishments, this bar/restaurant has rapidly gained a loyal following among tourists and locals alike and is one of the most popular. Located just behind the Capitolio, its central location makes it popular with tourists, but not so well-known on the tourist overrun circuit. Everything about this lively establishment is wonderful—the food, the drinks, the atmosphere—and it has quickly become deservedly well-known.

Set behind the iconic Capitol building, this animated bar/restaurant, sitting amidst the quaint streets of Old Havana, is the perfect spot to sit back and unwind after a day of exploring.

The name of this recently-opened café comes from Yoruba language and is used as an expression to ‘avert the evil spirits’. This tongue, originally from Nigeria, is still spoken by a significant amount of Cubans who believe in ‘santeria’, and the expression ‘Sia Kara’ in particular, is used frequently by all natives independently of their beliefs. You can certainly ‘avert evil spirits’ as you unwind in the café, which features three main sections: an space with small tables for couples, and two larger spaces with lounges, one above the other, ideal for families and friends.

Food

Though it seems to be most well-known as a bar and a gathering spot, the menu at Sia Kara should not be dismissed. The baked fish, ceviche and half chicken are favourites and are all accompanied by tasty salads. If you’re simply looking for a light and typical Cuban snack, order a plate of ‘mariquitas’ (fried plantain chips), to accompany your drink. Diners should also keep in mind that portions are typically quite large, and likely enough for two people to share. This informal dining experience is the perfect way to end a laid-back experience that allows you to discover part of Cuba’s true essence.

Drinks

Although dining is a tasty affair, it is the drinks that most patrons seem to come for. In its short lifetime, Sia Kara has established a reputation for itself because of its fine (and very reasonably priced) drinks. The varied list of cocktails, whiskies, rums, and beers is printed on the back of a license plate, and most of them come highly recommended, particularly the gin and tonic, piña colada the Caipiroska which is so well-prepared with even proportions of vodka, sugar and lemon, it will keep you refreshed and the conversation flowing.

Though not yet a big tourist destination, Sia Kara is growing in popularity among young, stylish native Cubans. Having opened very recently, in 2014, this venue is already one of the hottest spots in Havana, attracting a considerable number of local celebrities and prominent citizens. If you’re on a tight budget whilst on holidays, this modern café will still be in your price range thanks to the inexpensive “daily market” menu (from 6 to 15 CUC) which offers delicious treats.

Here’s a recipe for a great night out in Havana: after spending the day strolling the streets and taking in the city’s sights, end the day by taking a leisurely walk along the Malecón at sunset, when the fading sun lights up the city in candy hues, and head to the Sia Kara Café. You can have dinner here, or you can simply go for drinks. Either way, you’ll end your evening in a lively, laid-back environment where you’re sure to meet any number of interesting people.


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