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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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B del M: A Pause in Havana's Historic Heart

Centennial traditions, a blend of architectural styles and Cuba's hot climate get together to complement the attractiveness of Havana's historic heart, where Cuban cuisine is also present in places such as the world famous Bodeguita del Medio.

The B del M was opened in Havana 59 years ago by Angel Martínez - its first owner (deceased) - who tried to unite the city's bohemian sector under its roof.

Considered the Mecca of roast pork and the most typical exponent of Cuban cuisine, La Bodeguita - as many call this place - has in the past few years consolidated its role as a local food house that bears the banner of excellence in the country's new tourist era.

Located just a few steps from the Cathedral Square (on 207 Empedrado St.), the B del M is frequently visited by tourists. One of its most famous drinks is the Mojito, whose ingredients are light Cuban rum, lemon juice, ice, sugar and mint.

It was precisely this drink that turned U.S. novelist Ernest Hemingway into one of La Bodeguita's regular customers, also attracted by the welcoming and familiar atmosphere you enjoy after trespassing its threshold, characterized by the exquisite smell of Cuban food.

Among the restaurant's specialties are roast pork, "arroz moro" (rice and black beans) and cold beer (ideal for the hot Cuban climate), but the popularity prize is taken by the "chicharrones" (pork scratching), fried and crunchy pork skin highly demanded to accompany a good drink.

Restaurant La Bodeguita del Medio

However, La Bodeguita's fame not only comes from its food, but also from its customers' singular habit of writing their names or phrases, or hanging their photos, on the walls, as a clear evidence of their passing through the largest Antillean island.

The long list of famous personalities who have visited La Bodeguita ranges from Literature Nobel Prize Winner Ernest Hemingway to late Chilean President Salvador Allende, and includes dancers, painters, writers and artists from Cuba and all over the world.

In addition to the Mojito, the menu of drinks shows a wide range of offers added at the customers' requests, including Spanish, Chilean and, of course, Cuban wines.

In addition, there is a franchise to use La Bodeguita's name, and similar restaurants have been opened in Italy and Mexico, and there are prospects to open more in other countries.

The B del M's fame has transcended the borders of the largest Antillean island to reach Latin America, the Arab countries and Europe, where its latest restaurant was opened in Warsaw, the Polish capital.

Among the restaurant's international achievements in the past few months, the franchise operating in Paris won the Trophy of the Night, an informal equivalent to a gastronomical Oscar, in which it competed against 12,000 other foreign restaurants established in France.

Under the umbrella of the Cuban hotel chain Gran Caribe, La Bodeguita del Medio has become a gastronomical and cultural institution that has received several international awards and is always there to offer customers its best service.

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