“Have you taken your kids to Havana on Commercial Drive?” I ask a friend.
“I haven’t been to Havana since before I had kids,” she replies. “I had no idea that kids would even be welcome there.”
It’s understandable. From the outside, Havana looks like one of those artsy, intellectual places where patrons would frown upon anyone in the five and under set who might possibly ruin their evening. But once you walk through the sizeable patio perfect for people watching and arrive in the main dining area with graffiti scrawled all over it, look closely at the guests: kids are aplenty.
We arrived at around five o’clock and we managed to get a seat right away. Any later and we’d likely find ourselves waiting for a table – not good for a preschooler and toddler. A colouring book and crayons appeared, along with a booster seat and high chair. While choosing our dinner, our server informed us that there were a few kid-friendly items that weren’t on the menu: a penne in red sauce and a grilled cheese. We ordered one of each for the girls, as well as a strawberry-orange smoothie for the girls to share. I chose the seafood paella.
While waiting, my husband and I took turns taking the kids to the gallery at the back of the restaurant, which is apparently available for event rentals. The girls liked checking out the paintings and sitting on the hodge-podge of chairs – it was a good way to pass the time while our meal was being prepared.
We didn’t wait long since our food came surprisingly fast. It’s almost as if the kitchen knew that we had kids in tow.
It’s funny: I didn’t have a lot of expectations about the food, but I’ll say that the food well exceeded them. I haven’t been to Cuba, so I wouldn’t know how authentic the food is, but my safe bet would be that it’s really an mix of different Latin American influences. My daughters especially loved their meals, eating every last morsel off their plates.
Overall, the service was excellent. Our server continually anticipated our needs as if she knew exactly what parents of young kids would need.
Other than a lack of a change table, Havana gets high marks for family friendliness. Show up early enough and you’ll have time for some playtime at the Grandview Park playground before heading home for bathtime.
1212 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
604-253-9119 | www.havanarestaurant.ca