The natural beauty and charm of Trinidad, Cuba is timeless. A walk into town will give you a dose of 1950’s nostalgia as sun washed houses and aged horses occupy the streets. Trinidad brims to capacity with its secrets and treasures.
Believe it or not however, there is more to this Cuban tourist town than its quaint cobblestone roads and scenic mountains. Cuba, the land of ropa vieja and jamón y queso, is also home to the caramel flan, the country’s famed dessert concocted with sugar, sugar and more sugar. If you’re not a flan fan however, Trinidad offers much more than the “house” special. Here are the top three best places in town to visit for your insatiable sweet tooth!
1. La Creperie Dona Felicia
If you are looking for your comfort food fix, this is the place for you. Owner and crepe-lover herself, Felicia Sánchez opened La Creperie five years ago after discovering the delicacy through her Italian friends and decided to bring it to Trinidad. An offering of 15 different options for your crepe desires include ones filled with nutella, chocolate, rum, honey and combinations such as sugar and lemon or ham and cheese.
Located in the heart of Plaza Mayor, Dona Felicia’s creperie offers more than sweet and savory crepes too. Coffee enthusiasts will find a well-supplied coffee bar. If coffee isn’t your thing, La Creperie offers jugos de frutas (fruit juices), daiquiris, piña coladas, milkshakes, and smoothies amongst other tasty provisions such as sandwiches, ice cream and flan de caramelo of course.
What to get: As it was my first time ever eating a crepe, I looked to everyone inside for suggestions. Lisbeth Arostica advised me to try the nutella crepe, as did Moreno Sanchez who told me their most popular crepe is the nutella and banana. After looking to the neighboring table however, I selected the chocolate and banana for 3.50 CUCs (about $3.50). Curious about the crepe itself, I watched as Lisbeth mixed together milk, butter, flour, cheese and sugar before pouring the mixture onto the stovetop in front of me. She then placed sliced bananas inside and chocolate syrup to top it off. I took my first bite. The outside layer melted upon contact as bursts of sugar, chocolate and banana combined to provide a satisfying diffusion.
La Creperie is a popular tourist spot for visitors from all over, though many Cubans frequent the venue as well. “Many locals do not know what a crepe is, but those that travel and come back are helping to introduce it to Cubans,” Arostica said.
2. Lelatto Gelateria
Sure ice cream is great for those blistering hot days of a Trinidad summer, but why not take your cold treat a step further with gelato? I came across Sulea’s Lelatto Gelateria after a tiring trek through Trinidad’s streets. This gelato gem is recommended by Trip Advisor for its wide variety of flavors such as chocolate, lemon, mango, tamarind, vanilla and pineapple. For 1.50 CUC you can get a scoop of any flavor and be on your way or enjoy inside.
What to get: There is a lot more to Lelatto than ice cream though. Elisa Zamora, who has been working at the business since it opened three years ago, says that although Lelatto specializes in traditional Italian gelato and homemade ice cream, what makes this spot unique is the various dessert options offered. From sweet crepes to savory crepes to stuffed waffles and milkshakes, Lelatto has a treat for locals and tourists alike for prices all 5 CUC or less. If that’s not enough, Elisa suggests the house special as the perfect treat: a carved pineapple with a natural fruit salad mix inside for just 5 CUCs.
“What makes our products unique is that all of the flavors are natural and made from natural products,” Zamora explained.
Seeing that their most popular flavor is mango and lemon, I selected two bolas, or scoops, of the mango gelato for 2.50 CUC. Closing my eyes as I scooped a spoonful of mango, I was momentarily perplexed when I remembered what I was eating and not a real mango picked ripe from a tree. Natural flavor is quite the understatement to describe Lelatto’s gelatos.
“We have a mixture of tourists and locals who visit but we see a lot more of tourists because our flavors are good and attract people walking by on a hot day,” Zamora said.
3. Adita Café
Imagine your favorite five-star restaurant with a Starbucks-like cafe environment. Trinidad gives you Adita Café. Located on the outskirts of Plaza Mayor, owner Adaysa “Adita” Calderón Vera makes great use of the island’s sugar through her desserts.
“Cuban desserts are usually very sweet and the country is known for our caramel flan, so we are showing there is more than just flan in terms of dessert options,” Yoandro Peña, captain of the kitchen said.
What to get: Although Adita Café is just a week old, the business is already booming with both locals and tourists who want their fix of elaborate yet mouthwatering desserts and pastries. I was advised by a little boy who sat across from me stuffing his face with a sprinkled donut, to try the café’s most popular desserts: the “brownie a la moda” with one scoop of vanilla ice cream or the “cake a la moda” with two scoops of caramel ice cream.
Trusting that the boy had the inside scoop on the best dessert and wanting to indulge a little, I went with the latter option. Suffice it to say, I had my fill of sugar for the day. The cake infused with syrup at its fluffy, sponge-like bottom and iced with puffy pink cream at the top melted in my mouth while sugar crystals exploded at each bite.
Many tourists and locals alike have stopped by to grab a quick treat, but the café fills to capacity during the night when you can see lines curving around the corner. Along with their dessert options of ice creams, shakes, brownies, cakes, sundaes, donuts and muffins, Adita Café serves sandwiches, quesadillas, soups, pastas and other large entrees if you’re looking to leave with a full stomach.
“People should come to our café because we have a wood oven for pizza and we offer a wide variety of food and desserts for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Calderón claimed.
Inside, patrons can watch as their food or drink is being prepared as the café offers a view to the kitchen. There is an upstairs level as well that looks out and over to the lower level downstairs. Calderón expressed the hope that the intimate atmosphere of the café and wide selection of pastries and desserts will continue to attract customers.
La Creperie; Fernando Hernández Echerri Street, No. 34 in Trinidad, Cuba; (+53) 55222502; Hours are 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. daily.
Lelatto Gelateria Artigianle Italiana; Real No. 73 e/ Piro Guinart y Pablo Pich in Sancti Spiritus, Trinidad; Phone: (+53) 41 993788 Mobile: (+53) 54576525; Hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Adita Café; Antonio Maceo #452 B in Sancti Spiritus, Trinidad; Phone (+53) 41997538; Hours are 6:30 a.m. until midnight. daily.