The Hairdresser’s Alley: a peculiar spot in Old Havana
The Hairdresser’s Alley (Callejon de los Peluqueros) is becoming a trendy place in Cuba’s capital city to have a good time. Squeezed within Old Havana’s narrow streets, the singular alley is more than a place to have a lovely meal or try a “forbidden” drink; is a vividly proof of Cuban people wishes.
Located in Aguiar Street, Old Havana just a couple minutes walking from Havana’s Malecon (seaside promenade) and 4 minutes from the Museum of the Revolution; only has 100 metres length but you wouldn’t imagine the life hidden in this singular alley though. Bars, restaurants, art shops, places to admire collectable pieces and famous hairdresser’s salons harmoniously coexists and make this place a unique one in the heart of Cuba’s capital offering more than meals and objects to buy, but showing the truly spirit of the city. It used to be a forgotten place, nothing but dirt in the streets. However, a few years ago it was refurbished with government’s support and local people aiming. The goal was to give life a social project in this community; but today is more than that.
Nowadays The Haidresser’s Alley receives a flood of tourist and local people. Most of them interested to know how it actually works while others just get fascinated with the colourful alley. The project was born after a private business opening headed by a local guy. The beauty salon also house-museum property of the hairdresser Gilberto Valladares (mostly known by the nick Papito) was the origin. Papito started financing the alley with his business profits by his project Arte Corte; and without knowing it he started a brilliant financial experience in our socialist Cuba. This area in Old Havana named Santo Angel (Saint Angel) became a special one. Bars and restaurants are making more attractive these beautiful scenes. As part of the social aiming, owners employ local people for their business: taking care of gardening and vigilance during night.
El Figaro Restaurant
Places like “El Figaro” are getting very popular to enjoy a good plate of food. Famous for their Lobster in coffee sauce and Pork Fajitas (strongly recommend this last one) is now a trendy location; even the Rolling Stones had been there. Very “European” style decorated is now popular for signing notes or bills and the staff hang them in a cord crossing the bar. The Rolling Stone’s note is already hanged…(so it’s one sign by my friends and myself one night!). The place is very value for money with main courses starting at 6 CUC; also the cocktails are very nice.
Cafe de los Artistas
But there is another place I love to go: Café de los Artistas (The Artists Cafe). A high ceilinged, well restored building from the 1880s engaging owner Luis Carlos (the Stage Manager of the nearby National Ballet) serves straightforward menu with a selection of lighter fish and pasta dishes and very refined traditional Cuban food. As well as El Figaro it has reasonable prices and really worth the try! Locals love going here to have a meal with friends; is getting trendy to celebrate birthdays as well. Just a tip: if this is your aim, then you must book a big table first! The staff is really nice, and (if you want another tip), in this place I had one of the best Gin Tonic in Havana. I heard once this that Café de los Artistas is an unpretentious dining spot; that was before going. Now I assure you, the place is just perfect if you are looking for a good time and a piece of heaven in the crowded city.
There is also a place named La Farmacia. No personal experience here, but it’s definitely the next place to go in this magnificent alley. If you are in Havana, well you should give it a try; I bet you won’t regret about it!