Restaurants Photo Credit: Sweet Pea Photography and Julia Dilworth

Design Crush: Havana Vancouver’s Hot ‘n’ Tropical Makeover

During what feels like the hottest summer on record (our Vancouver weather amnesia strikes again!), the newly made-over Havana emerges to shower us in minty mojitos and exotic palm-leaf prints.

Havana restaurant has been a decade-plus institution on the Drive (Commercial Drive) in Vancouver with its signature patio and graffiti wall (the years of etchings and scribbled messages have formed what might be the most unique ‘wallpaper’ in the city). Oh and the mojitos, one mustn’t forget about the mojitos.

New owners recently revamped old Havana from top to bottom, decor to menu, and with its debut party last week, we got a first look at the new tropical breeze that’s been blowing into the space—and bringing with it palm-leaf prints, punchy pinks and more rattan than you ever thought you deserved!

(Photo: Sweet Pea Photography.)

Recipe: The Cubano Sandwich 

As a special treat, we also scored the now-not-so-secret-recipe to the team’s new Cubano sandwich (dill pickles, yellow mustard and swiss with salty porchetta and honey ham), which is the perfect zippy hand-held to munch on between summer margs.

The Reno

Co-owner Steve Thorp managed the restaurant’s redesign and said they were going for a look that mixes Havana and Mexico. Basically it’s the kind of place that pairs best with a tropical shirt featuring palm trees and piña colada prints. We need more of this.

More than a dozen rattan pendant lights glow above the back area (proof more is more). The painting on the left was something Thorp and Co-founder and Executive Chef Reuben Major bought late one night off a street artist while researching/vacationing in Cuba.
Forget gallery walls, we give you Cuba Wall! The Mix of frames and retro posters channels that casual “kick back, you’re off the clock” vibe. Cocktail pictured: the refreshing and tart fruit-punch-esque Jungle Bird ($14).
We love the mismatched patterned wall tiles on the bar almost as much as we love mojitos.
Thorp sourced this theme-perfect banana-leaf door for Havana’s theatre from Jack’s New and Used in Burnaby.
Is this Vancouver’s oldest living wall? You can see how the middle portion of the wall has been lovingly vandalized by years of Havana patrons. (Photo: Sweet Pea Photography.)
Luxe mustard-coloured banquettes, retro orange seats and sleek walnut woods somehow match the archaeologic-artifact-like walls and bring the space into 2018. (Photo: Sweet Pea Photography.)
The old Havana wall mural remains, but the patio gets a fresh boost with new neon chairs. (Photo: Sweet Pea Photography.)

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