Around the World in Houston: Discover Cuba

around-the-world-in-houston-cuba
Photo courtesy of Puerto Rican & Cuban Festival

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

From Cuban heritage and Caribbean film festivals to eateries serving up the city’s best ropa vieja and Cubanos, Houston is rich with Cuban culture.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Events

  • Carnaval Américas This event encompasses all of the Latin American countries represented in Houston and surrounding communities, with live music, authentic eats, and culture from countries including Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala Mexico, Puerto Rico and more.
  • Puerto Rican & Cuban Festival This annual festival celebrates Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican heritage and culture via traditional food and drink, live musical and dancing performances, from salsa and merengue to plena and bachata, family-friendly activities, arts and crafts, a car show, and local businesses. This year’s event will be held at NRG Stadium on Sunday, November 12.
  • Houston Caribbean Film Festival Held in June every year (National Caribbean American Heritage Month), the Houston Caribbean Film Festival is dedicated to “embracing and promoting the lush Caribbean culture through the eye of the director’s lens.” Support Caribbean films, filmmakers, screenwriters, producers, and directors in the Caribbean basin while enjoying series of meet-and-greets and interviews throughout the Greater Houston Area.

Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • Casa Cuba Casa Cuba is a patriotic non-profit organization with the mission to preserve Cuban culture, roots, customs, and traditions for future Cuban generations in the community of Houston; and provide enriching educational and charitable programs. Follow along on Facebook for updates and special events.
  • The Gite GalleryAfter an inspiring trip to Cuba, owner Llyod Gite added an Afro-Cuban art collection to his impressive gallery, which also showcases beautiful and unique art and artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The Caribbean American Heritage Foundation of Texas This foundation promotes public awareness and appreciation for the variety of Caribbean cultures, sponsoring cultural events such as storytelling, poetry, dramatic presentations, sporting event exhibitions, picnics, empowering youth and businesses, and providing seminars, scholarships, and economic opportunities.
  • Latin American and Caribbean Art at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston This department boasts a core collection of modern and contemporary art with more than 550 emblematic from Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and works by Latino artists in the United States.

Cuban Food & Drink

Restaurants & Bars

  • Cafe Cuba Tostones (fried green plantains), tamales Cubanos , and pan con lechon are all on the menu at this casual Katy café.
  • Café Piquet Catering to local Cubans since the ‘90s, this family-owned cantina offers authentic dishes like ropa vieja (shredded beef in tomato and wine), masitas (juicy chunks of fried pork), and camarones al ajillo (garlic shrimp) alongside rice, black beans, yuca frita, and platanos.
  • El Rey Taqueria With locations dotting the city, this taqueria melds Cuban and Mexican fare. House favorites include the ropa vieja taco, mojo pork Havana plate, and Cuban breakfast taco, packed with eggs, black beans, and plantains.
  • El Meson – Classic Spanish tapas mix with Cuban eats at this Rice Village hangout. Come with friends and dig into ropa vieja, Cuban-style bistec (steak) and saffron infused bomba rice, plump with chicken, chorizo Iberico, and sweet plantains.
  • El Mojito Cuban Cuisine Over in Spring, this family-friendly joint offers everything from ropa vieja and whole red snapper to Cuban-style sandwiches and flan.
  • Flor de Cuba This family-owned restaurant and bar has been operating since 2007, feeding Houstonians authentic specialties like lechón asado en pua (roast pork) and tostones rellenos (fried stuffed plantains) alongside traditional Cuban music. Check out the bakery for fresh pastries or hit the restaurant for breakfast, lunch, dinner or late night.
  • Havana Houston This high-end international spot has a Cuban touch, offering Havana-style plates like osso bucco in Cuban spices, lechon asado with mojito sauce, and seven mares paella, a Cuban version of the classic packed with clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, crab, lobster, and fish. Save room for yuca buñuelos, a traditional dessert made from yuca in sweet syrup.
  • La Vina Get toasty Cubano sandwiches, fried sweet plantains, and ham croquettes at this no-frills hidden gem.
  • Rice and Beans Cuban Cuisine This Cypress restaurant rocks traditional Cuban and Creole fare—think fried stuffed yuca, Cuban sandwiches, breaded steak, and Cuban Creole picadilla.
  • Rico Sabor Cubano Traditional eats range from arroz moro and platano maduro to Cuban sandwiches and vaca frita (fried shredded beef).
  • Rincon Criollo Cuban Cuisine Hit the lunch buffet or go for a full feast, starting with ropa vieja-stuffed tostones rellenos, hot wings with chicharritas, croquetas de jamon, and finishing with bistec de milanesa, camarones al ajillo, and conos capuchinos (Cuban cone cakes).
  • The Cuban Spot Two Cubans from Miami brought the flavors or Cuba to Houston. Find the food truck to smash buttery Cuban sandwiches, chorizo-and-beef fritas stacked with cheese and potato sticks, and fries loaded with hunks of ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, and pickles and drizzled with mustard and habanero aioli.

Grocery Stores & Cafes

  • Campesino Coffee House – Hit this cozy Montrose coffee house to sip café cubanos and cortaditos, a type of espresso originating in Cuba, alongside Latin American specialties like café con leche, horchata, and picadillo-stuffed empanadas.
  • Fiesta Mart Shop for plantains, black beans, chorizo and rice, fruits and fruit nectars, and spices like garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay leaves at these vibrant grocery stores. You may even find Café Bustelo.

Nightlife

  • Club Tropicana Cha-cha the night away to Latin music at one of Houston’s hottest dance clubs, which hosts people from all over the world.
  • Houston Rumba Club With a huge dance floor and stage, two bars and VIP sections, this high-energy nightclub is a hit with locals.
  • Metropolis & Extravaganza Check out Wednesday’s Ladies Night, Caribbean and Latin mixes on Friday, Latin Saturdays at this poppin’ dance and nightclub.

Language Classes, Education Centers, Groups & Meet-Ups

  • Habla Houston Learn to speak Spanish through weekly classes, interactive meetups and more.
  • Spanish over Coffee Brush up on your Spanish language skills with all-level classes that help you learn through conversation. Program experiences include dinner parties, game nights, scavenger hunts, and grocery shopping.
  • Houston Caribbean Professionals Association This group was created for professionals of Caribbean heritage who are looking for a network and a hub of inspiration and collaboration between like-minded individuals.
  • Houston Caribbean Social Meetup Join the local Caribbean community to build a network of friendship and support.
  • Latin Women’s Initiative This nonprofit organization strives to make difference in the lives of Latin women and their families by providing both financial and volunteer support to several local nonprofit organizations in the Houston community.
  • Rueda Houston This Facebook group is dedicated to lovers of Rueda de Casino and Cuban salsa in Houston. Check out monthly socials on the third Friday of the month and look out for beginners, intermediate, and advanced dance classes at the Houston Dance Factory.
  • Strictly Street Salsa Learn Rueda de Casino, or Cuban salsa, or try the street salsa program, which guides you from beginner to advance skills in salsa (casino), merengue, bachata, rueda, and other Latin dances. The studio also offers Latin drumming classes.

Other Notables

  • El Cubano Cigars This family-owned and operated cigar factory offers hand-rolled cigars. The family’s tobacco history dates back to Havana in 1904, when eight brothers worked at a plantation that produced 400 tons of tobacco a year. Generations later, the Lopez family continues to handroll special blends.
  • Hoyo de Cuba Cigar Factory Over in the Galleria area, this cigar factory offers a variety of cigars using Cuban leaf tobacco, crafted by hand in Esteli, Nicaragua. Visit the store for a hot cup of Cuban coffee, too.