Cuba Libre is a restaurant you have to see to believe. Wanna know why we recommend Cuba Libre in Old City Philadelphia to guests visiting the city. This was written pre-COVID.
Why we recommend Cuba libre in OLD CITY PHILADELPHIA
The same day that we had a staycation in Philadelphia for Han’s birthday, we dined at Cuba Libre, a Cuban restaurant located in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia. Since I had secretly planned pretty much the entire day as a surprise for him (he knew where we were going, but not what we were doing), Han actually chose the restaurant. While everything else was intentionally supposed to be a surprise each step of the way, the food was one thing I knew I didn’t want to “surprise” him with since I wanted him to enjoy it.
So after a long day of exploring the city we know and love, we were escorted to our seats upstairs right by the window. It was probably one of our favorite dinners we’ve had in the city.
The service was incredible and the servers were polite. They answered any questions we had about items on the menu and any drink choices they would recommend. The area we were seated in was very well decorated, comfortable, and gave a nice bit of seclusion for our date. Even when the room eventually started to fill up towards the end of our date, once the sun began to set and the lights in the room began to come on, it still felt cozy and intimate.
When you first walk into the restaurant you are taken back by the beauty of it. We’ve been to our fair share of restaurants in Philadelphia because we love to eat, but we’d never seen anything like Cuba Libre. The interior is inspired by Cuban culture and open-air restaurants you may typically find in the region. It’s tropical, colorful, and really makes you feel as if you stepped into another part of the world rather than a restaurant in Old City.
My husband will probably think it’s funny that in my recollection of our experience, I’d notice this, but I absolutely LOVED the chairs. The bistro chairs were this beautiful dark, rustic wood color with navy and white weaving in the seats. They were such a beautiful addition to an already gorgeous place and really added to the relaxing ambiance of the place.
What I was not able to capture while dining was the open-air area, but you can see a bit of if you look through the windows near where we were seated. I wish that I had made it a point to do so while I was there, but pictures probably would not even do it justice.
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For our dishes, I ordered the “Visit to Havana” while my husband got the “Ropa Vieja”. My dish consisted of black bean soup, a house salad, tropical chips, a pressed Cuban Sandwich that the website describes being, “Ybor City style with sour orange marinated pork loin, Genoa salami, ham, provolone, and Swiss cheese.” To top it off, the bread was spread with a yellow mustard-pickle relish sauce.
My husband’s dish had shredded beef brisket stewed with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and white rice. His dish also came with the same tropical chips that my plate came with.
One thing I can confidently say about both meals is that the portion sizes are relatively large, which is a great thing. While some of the dishes can cost more than $20, you know that they are going to be getting your fill of a meal.
The food overall was phenomenal. I am not a huge fan of black bean soup, but this one was so well seasoned and complimented my meal so well that I truly enjoyed it. In fact, I think other than the sandwich, the black bean soup was one of my favorites of that entire meal. My husband, who doesn’t usually enjoy tropical chips or plantains, finished his entire plate, joyfully – including his chips.
My husband and I could not stop raving about their food after we had it because it was so good.
Although Cuba Libre is a restaurant you can find in other parts of the United States, this location in Old City is unlike anything else you’ll find in the area. If you want a delicious, Cuban meal in an environment inspired by Cuban landscapes and culture, you will thoroughly enjoy this place. It is close to a number of historical sites, so if you are looking for a place to stop after a long day of exploring, this may be a place you would like to try.
Have you ever been to Cuba Libre? What was your experience like?