Havana is a fabulous city but sometimes it feels like an assault on the senses. After a couple of hours in the baking heat, crowded streets and hectic atmosphere I’d usually feel like retreating to a cool sanctuary. Luckily we found just the ticket with the Museo del Chocolate.
This corner building at Mercaderes Street and Amargura in Old Havana would be easy to miss were it not for the Churro vendor outside. In a city where machinery is hard to get hold of, this must be a bit of a treat and was the only Churro machine we saw, (though there is a bar nearby which serves sugar cane cocktails freshly squeezed from a cane press). It’s great fun to get freshly baked Churros from the corner and bring them inside the Museo del chocolate to dip in all manner of wonderful cocoa concoctions.
The Museo del Chocolate is not really a museum – more of a shop – but there is some information about the history of chocolate making in Cuba and it is an ideal way to refresh the senses on a hot day.
On the two occasions when we visited service was fast and friendly which is not a given in Havana by any means. Most importantly, it’s one of the few places that we frequented in the Old Town which has air conditioning. That means that when you’re on the verge of heatstroke or the blood sugar is low, it’s a bit of a god send and the sumptuous smells of cooking chocolate quickly revive you. Although it feels very upmarket the prices are cheap (though maybe not for locals) and there’s a good selection of favourites such as ice cream sandwiches, Aztec hot chocolates or milkshakes. The coffee is good too.
When ordering you can also choose from a selection of custom made individual chocolates with yummy fillings like honeycomb or pistachio. These wrapped boxes would make for a nice present, if the chocolate wasn’t prone to melt before you could transport it. As Cuba is not renowned for its food, the Museo del Chocolate is a luxurious yet affordable treat, though we did also feel a bit guilty to be enjoying a pleasure which is unavailable to most Cubans.