The Coppelia, Havana's celebrated ice-cream parlor housed in a flying-saucer-like structure in a park in Vedado, is as celebrated for its massive queues as much as it is for its ice cream. Insanely popular since opening in 1966 (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 movie Fresa y Chocolate (the film’s title alludes to two flavors of Coppelia ice cream: strawberry and chocolate).
As a tourist visiting the Coppelia, you’ll probably be directed by a security guard into a smaller convertible-paying outdoor section, but dodge the directives. Queueing is an integral part of Coppelia folklore, as traditional as the table-sharing, the cheap ice cream (you’ll pay in Cuban pesos), and the uncensored people-watching opportunities that abound inside.