Hola, amigos míos!
My name is Oyinkansola [pronounced: O-yin-khan-sola], I am another victim fallen to the Vegan Challenge by Diandra, but just as Gedeon from the last post (VA: Chicago, IL), I definitely found this challenge interesting to say the least.
Today, I’ll be taking you on my journey to the land of art, preserved culture and great cigars! I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba, and was drawn there especially for the art and culture. This place falls in line perfectly with my new art venture, where I travel the world to find unknown beautiful art and make them available worldwide via my website, Polartics.
First of all, Cuba is simply amazing! I enjoyed every moment of it, even when looking for the vegan food. Okay, I know you’ve called “bullshit” on that one, but I can definitely say, I enjoyed it when I found the vegan food! It was all great, and this challenge definitely heightened the experience.
Cuba was ridiculously hot! (Not that I’m complaining!) But I was cramped into a hotel in central Havana trying to figure out where the nearest Vegan Restaurant was. This wasn’t easy, as wifi was very limited in Cuba and I was only granted with an hour a day! I honestly don’t know how I survived. I probably should have searched this prior to coming, but I figured I had the time and the resources (i.e. wifi) to use whilst being out there (see a reoccurring trend here? I suggest if you also become a victim of Diandra’s vegan, do not underestimate this challenge!). With my last remaining 10 minutes of wifi, I finally found a place called Restaurante Café del Oriente; The next step was to physically find it with no google maps (bruh). I wasn’t even completely sure it was vegan, as I searched “vegan restaurants in Cuba, Havana” and it came up with this as an option, however some of the pictures had a lot of sea food. I thought to go forth and try my luck regardless and get this over with! The street named was called, Oficios which was about a 10 minute walk from where I was. However, being the diva that I am and with the sun shining down in full force, I decided to get a bici-taxi (basically tricycle taxis). Thought, I’d roll up to this place in style! lol
We weaved through the beautiful cobblestone streets for about 5 minutes before getting to a quiet area of town. My chauffeur then told me he couldn’t go through the streets and gave me directions in frantic Spanish. Just when I thought everything was going fine, and shit just got real. I pretended like I understood what he was saying and just wanted to get on with it, bad idea. After walking for about 15 minutes, I still couldn’t find Restaurante Café del Oriente and I was starting to go crazy with hunger. I thought to myself that I didn’t have to eat at this restaurant so I decided to do a stop and ask (me asking waiters in my non-existent Spanish, if they had “vegano” options). At least I knew what vegan was in Spanish! All of the 7 waiters in the first restaurant I tried had no idea what I was talking about. I said vegano like 100 times, and they were still clueless! – I started to question google translate ability! lmao.
I walked into the second restaurant and tried explaining what I wanted, again, putting extra stress on “vegano” – I kinda looked crazy, like an Italian mob boss trying to make an important point). Luckily, a guy in the restaurant knew what I was talking about and came to my rescue. FINALLY. I had black beans, yellow rice, vegetables and a potato mash. This was one of the best meals I had in Havana. I never tried yellow rice or potato mash before. The yellow rice tasted pretty good, no problems there. The sweet potato mash however, blew me away. I loved the texture, the sweetness, I loved everything. I am usually not keen on potato mash but this was amazing. Although, it was such a small portion of the meal but it complimented everything else nicely. The vegetables on the other hand were not that great. This did not come as a surprise to me at all as fresh vegetables like wifi, aren’t exactly Cuba’s strong suit. I think this has to do with preservation/transportation or something of that sort, would have to research that some more.
The name of this restaurant was La Mina Restaurante. It’s situated in a very pretty part of town, away from the huge tourist crowds, offers the most beautiful atmosphere to compliment your meal. I sat outside and within ten minutes of being there, a live band set up and started playing beautiful symphonies, adding to the great atmosphere. It practically turned into a full-scale concert right in front of my eyes and I couldn’t be happier. It felt like a dream or something you’d see on TV. All that was missing was the hunky Spanish guy to come sweep me away.
All in all, the Cuban energy and thirst for entertainment is unparalleled! Overall, the restaurant was 9/10. Definitely a great option for everyone, atmosphere and food was A1.Click to view slideshow.
This post first appeared on Vegan Abroad, please read the originial post: here