Cuba Tornado: How to Help and Donations to Give

Cuba Tornado Donations and how you can help: On January 27th around 9:30pm, Havana’s outside neighborhoods were struck by an extremely rare powerful and devastating tornado.

The rare weather accident has put thousands without homes, electricity, running water, or food since the incident occurred. It has affected large areas of Regla, Guanabacoa, 10 de Octubre, and Santo Suarez neighborhoods.

Its no secret that Cuba has been facing economic struggles for the past 30 years. Those woes combined with a horrible tornado and structures that were poorly built have been toppled and infrastructure already too old, washed away.

But there are many ways you can help the Cuba Tornado Disaster. Here are some below

Donate to a GoFundMe Page who’s already on the ground in Cuba.

I have set up a gofundme page that will get food on the ground to these neighborhoods. Link here. 

We will be donating food for now. Construction materials are very hard to find here and the most needed is food and water. We will be using the money for that.

Bags that are being donated to the tornado relief

Bring Items For Those in Need

If you are on your way to Cuba, PLEASE use the extra space in your luggage (or bring a check-in) to bring supplies that are NEEDED and very very hard to find in Cuba.

Those items can be found on my page – These items never go out of style to donate to Cubans. ANYTHING IS APPRECIATED.

If you do come, please contact me and I will distribute the best way possible to affected families.

In Cuba? Donate to FAC

If you already in Cuba or coming soon but don’t know where else to donate, you can donate to Fabrica del Arte (on Calle 26 y 11) who is collecting items and sending groups to affected areas. They are accepting clothes and food as of now.

Send Hot Food to Family and Friends in Havana!

The food start-up, A La Mesa, is eliminating their service fees and taking 15% off all orders that send hot food from a Cuban restaurant directly to your loved ones in Havana.

They are doing this promotion until 4th of February.

Mojito Havana

Best Mojito in Havana

If theres one thing you must do in Cuba, its drink a mojito in Havana Vieja.  The classic and infamous drink around the world was born right here, in the island of paradise.

When it comes to mojitos, almost every single restaurant and bar in Old Havana (Habana Vieja) has them, but not all are the same. So where can you find the best mojito in Havana? 

Mojitos come in all different forms and flavors and just like any other drink, theres ways to perfect the art of crushing mint, adding lime juice and topping it off with rum.

So, as any worthy travel blogger must do, I took the incredibly hard job of drinking at 5 different restaurants in Havana.

I could only make it to 5 because, well, I got pretty drunk after the 5th one. #LOL But don’t worry, it didn’t effect the results.

And speaking of results, some of these bars we chose to go are on our favorite lists, some are not and some are touristy famous for their mojitos. We wanted to give all different angles. So here we go!

Best Mojito in Havana

Chacon 162

Tucked on one side of Havana Vieja is Chacon 162. Its owner, Jochi, is one of our good friends and proclaims his mojito to be the best in not just Havana but all of Cuba. He probably has a lot of confidence in that since his bartender, Pedro, has been making them for over 18 years. He’s no doubt an excellent bartender.

Results: Eighteen years of experience paid off. It was an incredible mojito! It wasn’t too over powerful with the flavors and he combined the right amount of rum to both feel its impact but yet not taste it. At $4 per mojito in a big mason jar,  its amazing.

Mas Habana

Next up was Mas Habana. Very close to Chacon, we decided to go in here because I liked the neon light it had in its bar. I’m a child of the 90s.

Its also one of our other favorite bars and Rey its owner takes a lot of care to keep it up..

Result: Whoa! Its stronggggg! Its $4 as well, but DEFINITELY worth the value if you’re trying to feel a little buzzed in the Caribbean heat. Its also probably 2-3 mojitos in one huge glass.

La Taverna del Pescador

Of literally the hundreds of restaurants in Old Havana, we had never seen this one. Its on some touristy street, I guess thats why. Its small privately-owned restaurant you’d think otherwise from the lack of its decoration (it looks like the government tried). But, that was the appeal. I wanted to go to a place I’ve never been, that wasn’t well known on the basic “I went to Cuba for a Week and Went to all the same places every other travel bloggers goes to” blogs.

So we went. And I was surprised!

Result: The mojito is actually pretty good. It wasn’t as strong as Mas Habana, but it definitely did the job!! At $3, its served in a traditional 8 oz glass so its value isn’t worth the others, but if you’re looking for one drink to enjoy, I’d recommend it!

(Hint: the lobster is pretty good).

La Bodeguita del Medio

Aw, the famous Bodeguita. Well known around the world and mention half a dozen time in every Lonely Planet guide, it was a no-brainer I tried this one on my hunt for the best mojito.  With tourist lined up around the entire street, its pretty hard to get a mojito without screaming to the bartender. I do give it points for its ambiance.

Result: Horrible. I won’t even get into the details, but I think knowing I paid $5 for an 8 oz mojito hurt even more than the drink.   I’d recommend just snapping a pic, but not buying a drink.  Ha, that rhymed.


Another favorite of ours is Jibaro, Sitting outside Havana Vieja in the neighborhood of San Isridio (still inside Havana Vieja), this bar is a gem. The owners David y Diana are really good friends of ours and we absolutely love that they give back to the local community while being entrepreneurs. Not an easy task in Cuba.

Result: This was definitely a different flavor mojito with more notes of lime. It you like citric based drinks, you’ll love this one. I really enjoyed it because it was a twist on the classic mojito I was drinking all day.  Its also $4 and served in a big glass. It was definitely the sweetest of the 5 drinks I had.

So lets wrap it up!:

Winner: Chacon 162

Loser: La Bodeguita del Medio

Best Value: Mas Habana

Best Creativity: JIbaro

Best Quick Drink: Taverna del Pescador


For other best places in Havana, check these recommendations out!

Best Nightlife Havana Lounges

The Ultimate Library of the Best Nightlife in Havana

Best Nightlife in Havana includes Live Music!

Live Music in Havana

My Complete Library of the Best Nightlife in Havana

Music is constantly blasting in Havana, but the real party doesn’t begin until after dark.   Besides getting to Cuba, one of the most asked topics I receive is recommendations on best nightlife in Havana.

Luckily for you, there’s nothing more synomous than Marissa and Social Life. Soy la reina de la pachanga (party) and it extends to anything Trip Advisor could give you.

But let me warn you on a few things before I get to my recommendations.  Cuba hasn’t quiet evolved in the drinking scene like most of the world. There aren’t 200 beers on tap (there’s not even tap) or a list of fancy mixology drinks a guy with a mustache makes.

Those things come secondary to Havana’s nightlife. Cuban’s drinking culture is little to none. Our purpose for going out isn’t to drink, it’s to dance.

And if you’re thinking your tourist central casa particular in Habana Vieja is the spot to be in for music and bars, sadly you’re mistaken.

It’s all about el Vedado, a residential part of the city that’s bustling with restaurants and bars.  And while there are some places in Habana Vieja, most close early and locals aren’t found there. But don’t worry, ask any taxi to take you to the spots I’ll recommend.


Overall Best Nightlife in Havana:

Fabrica Del Arte Cubano – El Vedado

Let’s just get this one out of the way. Fabrica Del Arte Cubano (or FAC) is hands-down a must in Havana. If you have only one night in Cuba, it’s the only place you have to go. It’s that amazing.

Part art gallery, part bar, part club and part exhibition shows FAC is the accumulation of all Cuban culture inside a giant venue.

From its various different rooms, it has something to offer everyone.

Mari Tip: Open from Thursday-Sunday, get there by 9pm to enjoy it without waiting in long lines.  This is an extremely popular spot for both locals and tourists so make sure you can enjoy it!

FAC is modeled, cleverly, after the Cuban libreta.  Each person has a libreta and instead of paying for each drink, the bartender will stamp your card with the appropriate drink. At the exit, they calculate your consumption and charge you then.

Don’t lose your libreta or FAC charges $30CUC per person!

Best Nightlife in Havana - Fabrica Del Arte cubano

Outside FAC – A MUST in Havana

Casa de la Musica – Miramar

One of the most famous and popular music venues in Havana, Casa de la Musica hosts Cuban musicians from around the world.

Depending on the night, you can spot locals here dancing away to Cuban son and timba (a form of casino or salsa).

Mari tip: Casa de la Musica is a bit touristy and there can be jinteros outside hustling their way (especially if they see a group of girls or group of guys), but depending on the act, it’s worth it! Not all nights are created equal though and prices tend to be high for locals to get in.


Don Cangrejo- Miramar

Another music venue that boost rich Cubans and tourists is Don Cangrejo.  But don’t dismiss it just yet. Its outdoor restaurant and venue will have you dance the night away. Located right on the water, some of the best and famous Cuban bands play here daily.

Mari’s tip: Best night hands down is Friday.  Friday in Havana is hosted at Don Cangrejo and its no secret. It gets VERY crowded so make sure you get there at 10pm when the day restaurants becomes a night-club.


King’s Bar – El Vedado

Calle 23 Enre D/E

King’s bar has never disappointed me when we’re too lazy to go to the other end of el Vedado. Located near La Rampa (23rd entre D/E), it’s semi secret entrance leads its way to a nightclub with tons of locals. The small club feels intimate but the party is huge!

What I like the most about King’s bar is that the prices are reasonable and there’s a variety of different music anywhere from reggaeton to American pop to electronic music.

Best Nightlife in Havana King Bar Restaurante

King Bar in Vedado


Corner Café- El Vedado

Calle B y 1ra

If you want an amazing time with locals while hearing live music, there’s nothing better than Corner Café. It’s reasonably priced and offering tapas that aren’t all Cuban (a blessing being Cuban and having nothing but Cuban food ALL THE TIME in Cuba).

Mondays is jazz night. Thursday is rock.  And in between are local bands that are pop/rap.

Mari’s tip: Awesome breakfast spot too!


Sarao Bar- El Vedado

Calle 17 en E

Super trendy comes with super trendy music and atmosphere. This club looks like its off Ocean Ave in Miami. Seriously, it’s beautiful and modern for Cuba standards.  It attracts an equally trendy crowd with locals and tourists.

Like many places in Cuba, Sarao doesn’t start till around midnight.  Go at 11pm? Early. But unlike many places in Cuba, the prices aren’t as reasonable for tourist standards of Cuban prices (and unreachable for many Cubans, but many rich middle class Cubans are spotted here).

If you want a trendy and more upscale/fancy night out, Sarao is for you.

Best Nightlife in Havana Saroa

Saroa Bar in Vedado

Sangri-La – Miramar

Cool kids. Trendy Kids. And Local Ones.  This basement bar gets PACKED during the weekends as its currently a very popular bar. Its in Miramar so many Cubans with more $$ attend this bar as well as many foreigners living in Cuba. It get SUPER fun after 1am so drink that cafecito!


Espacios- Miramar

Another place where all the cool kids go.  Espacios is hidden from plain sight and what looks like a normal house. The difference? You’ll see a lot of cars and guards in the front.  It hosts local affluent Cubans and their expatriate friends. Chi Chi. It’s not for the poorly dressed or anyone not willing to party until 6 am. Yes, 6 am.

Mari Tip: Come with friends as it tapas are to share! There’s also a beer garden. I think it’s the only beer garden I’ve ever seen in Cuba,



Submarino Amarillo – El Vedado

Calle 17 y 6

Calling all friki’s (Cuban for rockers)! If you love rock music or the Beatles, this is the place for you! Some of the best Cuban rock groups play here during the weekend.

I am a secret friki to be honest. I grew up with classic rock thanks to my father so when I went to Submarino Amarillo I felt right at home.

Mari tip: Check out the decorations as it matches the theme and its very unique to Cuba!

Best Nightlife Rock Club in Havana

Submarino Amarillo for the best Rock Club


Jardines 1830

Near FAC, Jardines is widely known in Havana as the go-to spot for Salsa on Thursdays and Sundays.  Although salsa is a dying trend in Cuba, it still draws crowds especially for tourists.

Live music from the stage gets everyone in the mood to dance and guaranteed you’ll be asked by locals to dance with you.  If you don’t know casino, don’t worry someone will teach you.

On the malecon, Jardines is exactly that: Jardines. Its on an old fort so while you’re taking a break from dancing, you can go out towards the fort on the water and overlook the Gulf of Mexico (romance!)

Mari tip: Be careful single tourists! Lots of jineteros here. But only as a precaution, you’ll still have an amazing time! In fact, I celebrated my 29th birthday here

La Gruta – El Vedado

If you love salsa, love Cuban culture, love dance shows, love HOT HOT HOT (literally HOT) places, La Gruta should be on your top list.

The dance floor is really a spectualar show of locals and tourists showing off their best slasa moves. Don’t know how to dance? Its Cuba. Someone will show you.  Know how to dance? Get ready for serious comeptiton.

It’s also a good mix of cubaton and salsa music. Last time I was there it was a $3CUC entrance but the $3 includes watching beautiful Cubans dance beautiful salsa. Well worth it

Mari tip: The AC is broken. Last time I was here.  Good place to burn some extra calories. Best night is Wednesdays.

Best Salsa Nightlife in Havana

La Gruta for Best Salsa in Havana


La Flauta Magica – El Vedado

One of few rooftop bars in La Habana with a POOL on the top. Although you cant swim in it, the ambiance is beautifully overlooking the malecon.  It has one of the best pina coladas I’ve ever had and on Sunday’s electronic music is playing from upcoming and emerging Cuban DJs.

It’s a perfect place to spend the later hours of the evening but be warned, it also gets pretty crowded.

Best Nightlife Havana Lounges

Nightlife at La Flauta Magica

EFE Bar – El Vedado

On Tuedays (I believe) EFE has local DJs spin its really charming interior. Everytime I have been its been a great place to chat and lounge with friends although I have heard it gets crowded during later hours.

Its cabana style tables are perfect for tapas and drinks with friends and we’ve never had a bad time here.

Best Nigthlife in Havana: Electronica

Inside DJ set at EFE Bar

Encuentro – El Vedado

Another rooftop bar (very close to Flauta Magia) offers a beautiful enviorment and some of the best mojitos in El Vedado. It’s also popular with locals. And the bartenders have dance moves to certain songs.

It’s a perfect place to chill, relax, and make some Cuban friends!



For more on Havana, check out my Cuban 101 Guide.

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Top 5 Restaurants in Havana


There’s a different kind of revolution brewing in Cuba and unlike its infamous 1959 counterpart, this one brings a lot more “candela.”

Since the Cuban government has issued licenses for small privately owned businesses like paladares (restaurants), the rise of young entrepreneurial Cuban chiefs has left Havana’s dining scene growing faster than Che’s facial hair.

And since the world has seemed to suddenly remember the biggest island in the Caribbean still exists, tourists are wandering data-less and clueless around the streets of La Habana Vieja or El Vedado hungry.   

So let us help you find where you can find the best cuisine in the islands capital.

Santy Pescador  (Miramar, Habana)

Famous for hosting tourists and locals alike, Santy Pescador overlooks Rio Jaimanitas and boosts a twist on traditional Cuban seafood – sushi.   And if you are lucky enough to visit Havana during tuna season, you cannot pass anything Santy Pescador makes with tuna. An incredibly laid-back atmosphere with great views of the sea and marina is a great way to spend lunch or dinner in Havana.  (Mari’s Pro Tip: Santy Pescador is a bit outside center Habana but a few streets down is Fusterlandia, a MUST SEE for anyone interested in local beautiful art.   Fusterlandia is an entire neighborhood dedicated to eccentric Cuban art by artist Jose Fuster.   If you decide to go, I’d suggest to arrive after all the tour busses and crowds leave around 2pm-3pm).

El Del Frente (La Habana Vieja)

Tucked away by the overly flamboyant streets of La Habana Vieja is one of the best Cuban restaurants in the touristy neighborhood. El Del Frente is on O’Reily and Aguilar and on the top floors of the building with a beautiful rooftop terrace.  Enjoy amazing Cuban cuisine and finely made cocktails in a very unique setting.

El Chanchullero (La Habana Vieja)

You’ve probably come across this one if you’ve done any sort of research of Cuban restuarants and it’s worth the buzz. El Chanchullero is also in touristy Habana Vieja but makes probably one of the best ropa Viejas I’ve had in the area (and that’s a very tall order for me!). It has a great bar decorated with wine bottles and posters.

Somos Cuba (La Habana Vieja)

Somos Cuba (we are cuba) is EXACTLY that.  From the location to the hosts to the food, you CANNOT get any more Cuban than this.  Located in a solar (buildings that are divided into very very small apartments in center Havana), Somos Cuba’s chefs Ivan and Leidi serve you in the kitchen itself.  They welcome you as any Cuban would- with love and food.  It’s a bit pricey for Cuban standards but the experience and the food is well worth it.  Pro-Tip: There are stairs with graffiti pointing you to the restaurant. If you think its not where you should go, it most likely is!  Packed times include lunch and early evening hours so you might want to go a bit later.  Its small so don’t be shy to be a bit Cuban-like and talk to your dinner neighbors.

Flor de Loto:  Chinese in Cuba  (Centro Habana/Barrio Chino)

Yes, I’m recommending Chinese food in Cuba and it may surprise you that Chinese roots are essential to the fabric of Cuban culture.  Chinese immigrants have been calling Havana home for generations now and their food still inspires.  I’m putting this on the list because I always think its great to experience a different kind of cuisine than in the country you are visiting. Plus, lets be honest… theres just so much rice, beans and meat that one can eat.  Well Flor de Loto fits the bill! Right in the center of you guessed it, Barrio Chino, Flor serves the best fusion Havana has to offer.  I mean where else in the world can you get perfectly fried plantains and the best crabmeat with fried rice all in one huge (HUGE, yes the portions are CRAZY BIG) plate?  Only in La Habana! 

Bonus: Download A La Mesa!

A La Mesa is a Cuban app (yes, tech start ups are a thing in the land of no data but that’s another blog post) that lists restaurants of all major cities in Cuba.  They give you filters for live music, bars, tapas, and price range.  Its no yelp, but it works off-line and is an amazing app to have while visiting the island.