Coppelia

Ice Cream in Vedado

Havana's celebrated ice-cream parlor, housed in a flying-saucer-like structure in a Vedado park, is as celebrated as much for its queues as for its ice cream. Insanely popular since it opened in 1966 (lasting through some very rough economic times), this state-run institution is about far more than mere ice cream.

Relationships have been forged here, fledgling novels drafted, birthday parties celebrated and Miami-bound escape plots hatched. The ultimate accolade came in 1993, when the Coppelia served as a location and major plot device in the Oscar-nominated Cuban film Fresa y chocolate (the title alludes to two flavors of Coppelia ice cream: strawberry and chocolate).

Although there are better privately run ice-cream makers in Havana these days, the Coppelia remains part of city folklore, a place where you're guaranteed to meet Cubans at their leisure, either in the queue or at one of the compulsorily shared tables inside. Pay in moneda nacional.