Keeping in check with the recent Cuban themed posts, I wanted to try out a Cuban restaurant in my old university city - Leeds (no Havana, I know). It's no secret I love all things Cuban - rum, Salsa and the people! It's been two weeks since I got back and I've been craving Cuban food - big time! After a quick Google, I came across !Viva Cuba! and I instantly wanted to go!
iViva Cuba! has been open for sixteen years, so it must be doing something right! (How did I not know about this place when I lived in Leeds?!). Located on Kirkstall Road, based in what used to be an old bank, it's pretty easy to find. After reading up about the restaurant on their website, I was super excited to visit! From what I've seen, it appears thought and effort has gone into creating a close-as-possible Cuban dining experience, not only with the food but with the decor, in the sense of Che Guevara pictures and Cuban flags and souvenirs scattered around on display. There is also a 'history' wall of the restaurant, including Fidel Castro's signature! I like that the decor is kept quite plain and simple, which reflects Cuba, instead of being all fancy and 'OTT'.
The restaurant is set out over two floors, with a mezzanine level, with bars on both floors. There is quite a selection of cocktails on offer. I wanted my favourite Cuban beer, Cristal, however I had to settle for a Piña Colada as the Cristal was sold out!
There was a really nice atmosphere in iViva Cuba!. We got seated around 6pm, so it was still fairly quiet(ish) (hence the photo of empty tables). From 7pm, the restaurant got busier, which is always a good sign. The sound of diners along with Cuban/Spanish music playing in the background made for a buzzing atmosphere. Staff were attentive and really friendly.
Food wise - there's quite a bit to choose from off the menu, which is pretty much tapas style. We went for a favourite Cuban dish of black beans and rice, which was nice, but not as nice as authentic black bean rice when in Cuba (I thought I'd have this problem - that no dish would live up to the authentic Cuban style!). In addition to the black bean rice, we also had a Spanish omelette, lamb stew, calamari, lamb kebab, patatas bravas, fried banana plantain and bread topped with roasted vegetables and Manchego cheese. The food was super tasty! There was just alot of it - maybe we over ordered a little! I'd say the menu is definitely a mix of both Cuban and Spanish food, which has worked well together. Whilst there, a little part of me thought I was sat in a restaurant in the middle of Old Havana somewhere, so I was very happy about that. Obviously, we didn't finish all the food so we took home a doggy bag. If you love Cuban/Spanish food, I would definitely recommend iViva Cuba! - the food is good and general atmosphere makes for a pleasant dining experience.
Price wise - it's pretty standard pricing on the menu and pretty reasonable I think! Think standard usual UK restaurant prices.
All statements and recommendations are purely my own opinion. I have not been paid to feature or advertise any product, brand or service in this post.