I’ve never been to Cuba before. It’s definitely on my travel bucket list though. So when an invite to try a fairly new Cuban bar/restaurant arrived in my inbox, I accepted almost immediately.
Cubano Lito is located in the Ibis One Central hotel, not it’s neighbor next door. I (learnt that the hard way). It was inconspicuous from the outside, with no sign, just a giant teal door painted with a flower. We tried our luck and sure enough inside we find this hidden gem.
The owners have left no detail spare when it came to furnishing and decorating this corner space. From a cigar corner complete with a cabinet full of Cuban cigars to a fully tiled bar with rustic pieces like old barber chairs, a jukebox mixed with alternate leather and aqua seating even down to the bar tenders uniforms it all combines to really recreate the feel of Cuba adding so much charm and character.
Should you prefer some fresh air there is also a small al fresco dining space surrounded by lots and lots of pot plants. Karina from Peru is our waitress for the night and my guest and her converse in Spanish. The food menu is made for sharing and the chef prepares us a selection of dishes to try. First up was some empanadas, one stuffed with beef and served with a creamy dill dipping sauce whilst the other was totally vegetarian and stuffed with halloumi cheese and guava paste, this one coming with a sweet plum sauce.The mixed grill is served for two and contains seafood and meat. Everything is char grilled so there’s a very slight chance that it could come over cooked and dry which is partly what we were thinking judging by how well done the meat was, however we were surprised to find how tender the meat was. The charred seafood was so tasty it didn’t need a sauce but a slight squeeze of lemon was a nice touch, however the squid or calamari rings were the only things I didn’t enjoy off the platter as I found them a little on the chewy side.
We also tried their mojito ceviche which was one of the best I’ve tried in Dubai, well diced pieces of white sea bass with loads of herbs and citrus juice with a nice kick from the one and chili. So addictive I end up finishing the pot to myself. Oops!
They have some great cocktails most of which are rum based of course, my favorite being the La Mula, (it only took me 3 cocktails to discover it).
By this stage I want to get up and dance. At 9:30 every night besides Sunday a live Colombian band play a mix of Spanish and international songs. Lucky for us there was some guests who happened to be salsa dancers so they got up and put on a show on the dance floor for us. I was mesmerised.
Considering it’s only been open for 4 months, it pulls in a decent sized crowd, who are there to enjoy the live music and soak up the atmosphere.
Cubano Lito is definitely a hidden gem in Dubai and I’m looking forward to taking friends back here and also trying their desserts! Or perhaps even learning how to salsa!
Location: Hotel Ibis World Trade Centre, Ground Floor
Phone: 04 429 8847
Open Daily 5pm – 2am
Happy Hour everyday from 5-8pm Buy 1 drink get 1 free
Free flow drunch – Friday’s 5-8pm 159aed – Unlimited house cocktails and selected beverages
Unlimited Cuba Libres every Saturday 5-8pm for 199aed
Unlimited daiquris every Sunday 5-8pm for 199aed