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Tiki Central Forums » » Locating Tiki » » Trader Vic's/Polinesio, Havana, Cuba (restaurant)
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Trader Vic's/Polinesio, Havana, Cuba (restaurant)
Trader Tark
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Nov 11, 2007
Posts: 44
From: Sunny Brighton UK
Posted: 2008-11-06 11:28 am   Permalink

Hi, and thank you for your interest in my pictures. I am sure it was this site that first drew the Polinesio to my attention.

Yes i am familiar with the Book.. "Havana Before Castro" my copy has been on order since September. I was hoping that it would arrive before my trip. But things seem to have got annoyingly held up here in the UK. The excerpts you posted on here (Sven) were fortunately enough to go on, so we easily found both the Havana Libre and the Riviera. Thank you for your recommendations !! I am still looking forward to the books arrival. The only thing is it may now highlight things i wish i had seen.. Dohh..

The large clam shells may have at one time been wall lights as some were still present on the wall back lit. I too noticed the unusual pillar carvings. I remember not being that keen on their style. But I now wish i had payed them more attention. I am no TV expert and as i said before i only have first hand experienc of London. But i think I'm right in saying that most of the pillar and fixed decor carving was alot shallower than usual. I am judging by photos I've seen.
There was a smattering of wooden statues in the area near the front door. None seemed to be displayed with any great attention to decoration..

Some more photos:









I have lots of other Havana/Cuba Photos that i am happy to share.. Perhaps i should Post them on one of the other "Cuba/Havana" threads..

Tark





 
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tiki-a-fair
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2007
Posts: 232
From: Tikicali
Posted: 2008-11-07 09:33 am   Permalink

I love this, I so want to go. It's just amazing! Thanks for sharing.

 
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tiki-a-fair
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2007
Posts: 232
From: Tikicali
Posted: 2008-11-07 09:36 am   Permalink

I love this, I so want to go. It's just amazing! Thanks for sharing.

 
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Sweet Daddy Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 20, 2003
Posts: 1072
From: Edmonton
Posted: 2010-02-15 12:52 pm   Permalink

Friends of mine just returned from their honeymoon in Cuba. I suggested they go to the Polinesio and they did (what a surprise - no one ever does the stuff I tell them). Here are some of the pictures they took. I haven't talked to them since they've been back so I can't add any info to the images yet.





























I do know that they and their friends ate chicken paella with "a salad with lovely fluffy leaves", grilled chicken (from the Chinese ovens), and an assorted meat dish (in a the bamboo dish). Don't know if they had any cocktails. I'll try to get more details of their experience.
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11265
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2010-02-15 2:04 pm   Permalink

How good to know it is still unchanged! Thank You, S.D.T.

 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4427
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2010-02-15 5:10 pm   Permalink

Every time I look at pictures of this place it's like looking in a museum or time capsule. Amazing how much is the same after all of these years.

I went fishing in Key West a few years ago and the boat skipper said he used to take fishing parties out and stay in Havana for a couple of days before the Bush admin. Need to get that gig going again so I can head down for some Marlin and dinner at Polinesio.

DC


 
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bongofury
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Oct 15, 2002
Posts: 1550
From: Ventura County
Posted: 2012-12-09 09:26 am   Permalink

I was able to visit Cuba in September with a friend through a local travel group that had a special permit with the Treasury Department. Because we were all from the U.S. we had to be on an organized tour as part of a "people to people cultural exchange". I had never done a tour but it was much better than we thought and allowed us to see things we may not have seen on our own.
We flew direct from Los Angeles to Havana (4 1/2 hours) on a chartered United Airlines jet. We were scheduled to stay in a hotel a few blocks from the Habana Libre (Havana Hilton), but a few weeks before we left we were notified that we were going to be staying at the Habana Libre where the Polynesio is. We spent 4 days in Havana, 2 days at a beach resort, and back to Havana for our last 3 days. After our bus, and or walking tour, we were on our own after dinner. Each night in Havana we started at the Polynesio for drinks before going out for local music. The bars and clubs are open until 4am and we had to be on the bus by 9am so we ended up getting less than 40 hours of sleep in 8 nights (didn't want to miss anything).
We tried to talk our group into joining us but most were not interested. since our meals were included, we were always full and never tried the food there. The place was empty almost every night with the exception of two or three tables. We were usually the only ones in the bar. Most of the drinks were pretty good.
Here are some photos from the Polynesio


I won't post much of the interior as nothing has changed from the other posts.


This is a picture from a sign they had in the hotel near the stairs (open and all is repaired) leading down to the exterior entrance on a side street to the Polynesio.





They had mugs that were not for sale at any price. I really wanted the Rum Barrel (the drink in it was very good and was called the "Tiki") The bartenders said that they only had 10-12 of each design due to breakage and theft. I saw no Port or Starboard glasses. The glass pitcher that they served the Mai Tai and Daquari in has the Trader Vic's logo.



The bartender brought out this fog cutter mug to show the difference between it and the one they have been using for a while. It was smaller and he said that was the only one of the original fog cutter mugs from 1958.






The guy in the middle was bar tending the last 2 nights we were there. Osvaldo Sainz is the manager and has worked there since 1986. After talking to him for a while (still couldn't wrangle a mug) he brought out a family photo album and allowed me to take photos of some of the images. Most of these are from the opening night of the Polynesio with lots of movie stars, Bautista's wife and some I don't remember. All I had was my iphone so here you go...









Ernest Hemingway

























I asked Osvaldo who the gentleman was in this photo and it turns out to be his Grandfather, Jesus Sainz who worked there from 1958 to 1983. Osvaldo's Father, Enrique Sainz also worked there from 1960 to 1989.

Here are some shots of original post cards from Trader Vic's








We finally got a few people from our group to join us the last night









 
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tikibars
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 11, 2002
Posts: 2024
From: Aku Hall, Chicago
Posted: 2012-12-09 1:33 pm   Permalink

Nice pics!
Interesting to see the Havana Club Seleccion de Maestro in the very last pic; that product replaced the Barrel Proof a couple of years ago. I've got some Barrel Proof left from my 2008 trip to Cuba, but I haven't been in a position to A/B it with the Seleccion.... yet.


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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11265
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2012-12-10 3:18 pm   Permalink

Good to hear the location is still surviving in its original state, despite its apparent, on-going low customer attendance.

Did they fix the stairs going down from the hotel lobby, or did you have to walk out of the hotel and around it to find the entrance?
Did you use Pete's book as a guide for other places?


 
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Dustycajun
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 16, 2007
Posts: 4427
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Posted: 2012-12-10 4:08 pm   Permalink

Bongo Fury,

Great photos! I really appreciated seeing the images from the scrapbook, inlcuding those two never-seen-before postcards.

DC


 
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bongofury
Grand Member (6 years)  

Joined: Oct 15, 2002
Posts: 1550
From: Ventura County
Posted: 2012-12-10 5:36 pm   Permalink

The stairs are fixed. Our US tour guide was going to see if they could work a deal to do a dinner at the Polinesio for future trips instead of the below average buffet on the second floor. Barely OK for breakfast so we skipped the included dinner at the buffet and a few of us got a taxi to here... http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g147271-d1965867-Reviews-La_Guarida-Havana_Cuba.html

All the other restaurants on the tour were very good. My favorite Rum was the Ron Vigia Gran Reserva 18 year old. The Havana Club Selecion was #2. I didn't like the 15 year old as well but I wouldn't turn it down.


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Mr. NoNaMe
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 10, 2006
Posts: 1919
Posted: 2012-12-20 7:08 pm   Permalink

So cool Ron! My bro couldn't get to any places I suggested (except for Partagas ) due to his status.
edit: turns out it was Partagás, not Cojiba.
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[ This Message was edited by: Mr. NoNaMe 2012-12-20 19:21 ]


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Swanky
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5065
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2012-12-21 09:07 am   Permalink

Ah! When we get down there, I gotta look through that album! The Thorntons would leave the Mai-Kai on Friday and spend the weekend in Cuba. They had a Bautista regime police chief as their guide. Maybe they were there for that opening!
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KAHAKA
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 03, 2003
Posts: 830
From: San Jose, CA
Posted: 2013-04-17 7:06 pm   Permalink

My good pals Notch, Mondo, Scott and I had an opportunity to spend a few days in Cuba a few weekends back. We expected to like it, but didn't realize just how much. I think the interest level hit obsession a few hours in. After checking into the Hotel Nacional, we headed directly to Il Polinesio.

The place was empty. There was one other couple that came in during our time there. A lot of the goods seemed to still be in tact from the pics Bongofury posted last year, maybe a few items less. Nonetheless, it was pretty amazing to see a relatively untouched, original tiki restaurant from the heyday of Tiki. AND it's in Cuba!

The very friendly bartender informed us that they were only serving traditional Cuban drinks due to a lack of supplies for the other drinks on the menu, so we had our first Cuba Libres of the trip!

I took pics with the only camera I had, my iPhone. I apologize for the quality, but from all the other pics posted, you get the gist of what it looks like.







Notch had a cool idea to bring in an original Suffering Bastard to leave behind at the Polinesio. We all signed it and hope to be able to visit it someday down the road! Fingers crossed that Il Polinesio's doors will still be open.








Suffering Bastard with his new Cuban brothers and sisters


Here's a shot of the menu to show the drinks they used to have. Hopefully they'll receive the needed supplies to put these back into action.



We only made the one visit to the Polinesio during our short stay in Havana. There was too much see. And like Bongofury mentioned, we got very little sleep because we, too, didn't want to miss anything!

ˇSalud!
Woody
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forgotten tikiman
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 18, 2011
Posts: 484
From: Forgotten Tiki Room. Pismo Beach, CA
Posted: 2013-04-17 9:57 pm   Permalink

Nice Woody . That place does look great. Cool idea with the Suffering Bastard mug. Looks like you guys had a great time. Mahaloz for sharing the photos.

 
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