El Tranvia: The Best Restaurant in Cienfuegos

We wandered the streets of Cienfuegos wondering why exactly we’d decided to come here. We’d left the vibrant streets and crazy days of Havana to explore a bit more of what our Cuba holiday had to offer, but we were starting to regret it.

We took the Vizaul bus from Havana to Cienfuegos for 20 CUC. Five hours later and we’d arrived. We were excited to go and explore, although neither of us knew anything about the area. We’d booked a casa particular out on the peninsula, and it was a long scenic walk to the centre. After exploring the main strip, which included waiting an hour for a coffee in a restaurant and wondering where all the action was at, we weren’t exactly enjoying Cienfuegos as much as we had Havana. There just wasn’t that much to do there once you’d seen the harbour and scoured the market stall. That was until we found this little beaut of a place.

El Tranvia best restaurant in Cienfuegos

We’d almost just gone home thanks to the sweaty heat and the disappointment, but we decided to just walk down one more street. And it just so happened we arrived here: El Tranvia on Calle 37, Cienfuegos.

El Tranvia is a gimmicky restaurant built on the fact that Cienfuegos used to have a whole tram system linking it together, until the government came in and decided everyone should have cars. The waiters were suited, booted and super friendly. We made friends with the bar man and he made us play in his cart. We didn’t really know what to do, but this was the result…

El Tranvia best restaurant in Cienfuegos

They have live music every day and night at El Tranvia, we ended up going back the next night so we saw it first hand. This guy was awesome. He played a mix of Cuban and Western songs and took requests.

El Tranvia best restaurant in Cienfuegos

El Tranvia best restaurant in Cienfuegos

The cocktails here were just 3CUC (£1.80) and absolutely delicious. I sampled quite a few off the menu, including the house special as modelled by me above.

It had grenadine, coconut liquer, mint liquer, lemon juice, apricot liquer and a cherry on top. There was also a slice of lemon that separated all the liqeurs at the bottom of the glass from the daiquiri ice on top. When you poked it the colours rushed up through the ice. Very satisfying.

El Tranvia best restaurant in Cienfuegos

El Tranvia best restaurant in Cienfuegos

There was a more formal restaurant downstairs that served food a la carte, while upstairs was more of a bar area. Half of it was outside and the other was under some shade. As you made your way up the stairs you could see them preparing food in the kitchen. On the second night that we went there was a big party – I reckon it’s a popular restaurant with tour groups. They were all having a great time with the live music and up for it staff.

We sampled quite a bit of the food while we were there and all was delicious. I can definitely vouch for the calamari, cheese balls, chicken feast and deep fried prawns anyway…


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