You cannot tell anyone “I already know La Habana” if you have not visited The Cuban Mojito Temple: La Bodeguita del Medio. It is almost a “sin” not to come here. It is one of the most famous Cuban restaurants in the world and one of the main tourist places of the city. In La Bodeguita you can be part of the typical Cuban environment, with its Creole food, its tobacco and its music.

On the walls, hundreds of visitors have left their mark by some photo, object or signature on the walls. Some as outstanding as Pablo Neruda, Agustín Lara, Salvador Allende, Mario Benedetti, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Maria Felix and Jorge Negrete, among other personalities. Ernest Hemingway wrote in English “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floriditain reference to his two favorite Havana bars.

The history of this site is curious. They say that in Cuba all the “fondas” (modest restaurants) and “bodegas” (small neighborhood markets) were strategically located at the corners of the streets. Before being a restaurant, the local of La Bodeguita, worked like a “bodega”. But not just any, it was a small neighborhood market that was in the middle of Empedrado Street. And from that reason it was named like that. Its owner decided to keep the name with which the customers identified the business.

A sonnet dedicated to the Bodeguita del Medio says: “La Bodeguita is already the “bodegona” … Never stop being the “bodeguita”. And that’s still, a small place with few tables and stools, where you can taste well-prepared creole food, sample national drinks and dance with Cuban rhythms.

At present there are establishments with the same name in other places. You can find similar ones in other provinces of Cuba and in world cities like Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Germany and England. But none like this one of Havana, the small and eternal Bodeguita del Medio of Empedrado Street, a few meters from Cathedral of Havana.

For visit: Empedrado street between Cuba & San Ignacio streets, Old Havana, La Habana (“23.14085, -82.35229”). Open daily.

by: Leunam Rodríguez