Photos by: Kimberly Cadena
Cuba Libre makes me nervous. I grew up in Miami, surrounded by Cubans. My favorite memories include sidwalk sips of Cuban coffee, drinking fresh batidos de fruta, and tucking into a giant plate of vaca frita at Sergio’s. My memories of Cuban food and Cuban culture feel authentic. The idea of the words “Cuba Libre” (Free Cuba) are bittersweet, especially to someone who is now seeing her Venezuelan heritage face the same future that Cuba has long had to endure.
I’m not trying to get political here, but I want to make a point. When you walk into Cuba Libre, what you are seeing is an ideal, not a reality. It is beautiful, and approachable, and uncomplicated and it was made for you. You will like it. You will enjoy the beautiful faux finished interiors, and they are very beautiful.
You will love the references to the classic 1959 movie, “Our Man in Havana,” where every character leaves their hat on a hook in the bathroom. You will love the huge menu filled with Cuban and Latin-Inspired dishes. And you will love the huge Mojito list. Promise.
I haven’t eaten at Cuba Libre, but I really do look forward to it. They took meticulous care with the design and interiors, everything is perfect and I imagine that will extend to the food and drink. Once the restaurant is set and the flow is comfortable for staff and customers, Cuba Libre will be adding a DJ and salsa nights. From videos I saw for other Cuba Libre locations, they go full out.
Cuba Libre is a restaurant that will create moments for people. A birthday dinner, a bachelorette party, a night to drink too much rum/dance/make out with a hot Latino. It’s probably not going to be for everyone, but it’ll have an impact, and a stretch of downtown 9th Street continues to grow up.
Want to try the place? Opening October 1, Cuba Libre will be 50% off for the first week, then 25% off for the next week. You can make reservations on OpenTable, and I’d recommend you do it. The 1st and the 2nd are already all booked up.
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar is located at 801 A 9th Street (corner of H Street), NW in Washington, D.C. Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar will serve lunch weekdays, brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and dinner nightly. For more information please call (202) 408-1600 or visit www.CubaLibreRestaurant.com.