Who would of thought that a place that started out in the heart of Wellington’s Chinatown, could evolve in to the city's favourite Cuban dining destination? The only thing you can’t do here is roll your own cigar.
Te Aro's Havana Bar has a rich history in this city, housed in two classic Victorian cottages that later became the birthplace of Havana Coffee Works and, for the past 13 years, Havana Bar.
This iconic watering hole is at first, out of sight, tucked down a long alleyway that's carved out between the space between two historic cottages. Beyond the alley and past the front door, you will find yourself at an intersection. Take a left and you'll be greeted and seated in their stylish restaurant. Take a right, and you'll be thrown into the deep end of the bar.
During our visit, my friend and I were feeling quite peckish, so opted to sit in the restaurant. The cocktail list, this I know from previous visits, is a must. We choose from the exclusive Havana Bar list and I opt for the “little Phil” – a combination of Mezcal, Tequila, Strega, fresh lime and mint – a smooth, smoky flavour with a surprisingly fresh finish.
The menu here focuses on classic tapas, which works well for both the bar and restaurant, while encouraging diners to be adventurous. We start with grilled bread topped with halloumi, red pepper relish and rosemary oil, followed by the crispy black pudding with puffed buckwheat and mustard sauce.
Next, we go for the pork belly served with coco bean puree, braised fennel and burnt orange sauce, accompanied by pan-fried fish with smoked mussel sauce and roasted Jerusalem artichoke puree. All the dishes were beautifully presented, challenging the palate with tasty new flavour combinations. Our sweet tooth encouraged us to indulge and finish with dessert.
The highlight was the burnt chocolate mousse with whipped lemon, honeycomb and raspberry meringue, a fresh, light dessert that ticks all the boxes.
Cuba is well-known for its live music scene and naturally, so is Havana Bar. The team here embrace local and visiting musicians and regularly host live music acts that help create and reaffirm that South American vibe.
This is the kind of place where you can start with drinks, follow up with dinner and carry on into the bar, well into the night – this truly is Wellington’s one stop Cuban shop.
32a - 34 Wigan St
Opening Hours: Mon–Sun: 11:30am–late.
We start with grilled bread topped with halloumi, red pepper relish and rosemary oil, followed by the crispy black pudding with puffed buckwheat and mustard sauce.