One of the best kept secrets in the city, Buddha bar is a perfect place for cheap drinks, dancing tea chilling with some Cuban millennials. And it’s not what you expect. The bar is located on the far side of the Túnel de La Habana, the tunnel that runs underneath the channel that links the the Port of Havana to the sea. Situated in the small neighborhood behind the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, the bar sits in the back yard of what used to be someone’s house, containing a bar, seating area, dance floor and a dominoes table. Above the dance floor hang shirts for bands like Metallica, Megadeath, and ACDC…an sign of what’s to come.
It draws a mostly early-twenties crowd (though the first time I went I was hit on 16-year-olds. Plural. Two of them), but the young crowd makes it all the more interesting. Because the music selection is fascinating. The playlist (managed by some excellent DJs) shifts throughout the course of the night—indie dance pop, classic Cuban music, 90’s and 00’s rock, and metal. It’s a great place to go to catch a song you haven’t heard 15 years and that you didn’t know you could dance to. Or to see some young Cubans dressed in black, with hair that’s a mix of the Ramon’s and K Pop.
It’s not hard to get in but there’s a couple rules. It’s the only bar in Havana that requires an ID, so don’t forget yours. They also only allow guys with dates, to make sure you’re rocking rolling with at least an even girl/guy ratio—or just meet some girls waiting in line. You have to check your bag and the guys have to pay a two dollar cover charge which goes towards the drinks, in the form of two 1CUC metal chits they hand you. Your best bet is to turn those chits into one of their “color drinks.” Super sweet and super strong—just head to the bar and ask for a color in Spanish and see what you get—rojo, morado, azul—take your pick. Or if you’re feeling super adventurous (and not worried about getting home) ask for the “Sudor de Leon”—or Lion’s Sweat, a colloquial name for a 2CUC flask-sized bottle of very cheap rum.
Oh, and speaking of sweat, if you’re planning on dancing, get ready for a lot of it.
Address: Other side of the bay, in some house. Seriously, download our map to find it.
Fridays and Saturdays, get there around 10, goes til late