Cuba Libre Coming to DC

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Katayun’

Philadelphia, Atlantic City and Orlando – now DC will get its own taste of Old Havana when Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar opens at 9th & H Streets NW this May. I’m particularly excited by this news as Cuba Libre is known for its large rum selection featuring over 75 Latin American varieties. Will this mean that the naysayers who are calling for the death of the mojito will be proven wrong? We’ll see, as Cuba Libre is also known for this summery cocktail with 15 variations to choose from… at the very least, I’ll be happy to sip a Cafe Cubano after dinner!

The food menu will be overseen by Chef Partner Guillermo Pernot, 2002 winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Mid-Atlantic Region. Concept chef for the Cuba Libre restaurants since 2006, he’s said to be inspired to create dishes as if Castro had never come to power. Indeed, that pretty much sums up the restaurant’s concept – to celebrate 1950′s Old Havana in every way.

The design sounds potentially very sexy crazy, promising an “open-air, movie-set Old Havana” with a streetscape of Spanish Moorish and French Colonial buildings, balconies, and a sidewalk cafe. And yes, there will be a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights with performances by professional salsa dancers as well as open dancing for patrons. Hmm… relaxing tropical brunch? hot date night? I’m definitely intrigued to see a bit of Havana in DC come May. Have you visited the other locations? Let us know what you think.

As one of the founding editors of We Love DC, Jenn’s passions are theater and cocktails. After two decades in the city, she’s loved every quirky, mundane, elegant, rude minute of her DC life. A proud advocate for DC’s talented drinks scene, she’s judged the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI contest, the DC Rickey Month contest, the Jefferson Hotel’s Quill Cocktail competition, and is a founding member of LUPEC DC. A graduate of Catholic University’s drama program, she toured the country as a member of National Players, and has been both an actor and a costume designer before jumping the aisle to theater criticism. Writing for We Love DC restored her happiness after a life-threatening illness, and she’s grateful to you, dear readers. Send your suggestions to jenn (at) welovedc (dot) com and follow her on Twitter.

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14 thoughts on “Cuba Libre Coming to DC

  1. Speaking of Cuban food, are there any good Cuban bakeries or restaurants in the DC area? I get pretty homesick here and need a taste of home.

  2. Cuba de Ayer is supposedly best (and perhaps only restaurant). It’s in Burtonsville outside the beltway in Maryland towards Baltimore. I’ve never been so check it out.

  3. Big fan of cuba libre…been to the philadelphia and orlando locations. the ropa vieja is very good. this is exciting news on a generally crappy day!

  4. Cuba Libre was my favorite restaurant when I lived in Philly, and I am ecstatic that it is coming to DC. The passion fruit mojito was my favorite of the bunch, but they’re all excellent (and yes, I’ve tried them all). I will be there opening day in May!

  5. Cuban Corner in Rockville, MD has excellent Cuban food. Very authentic. It is a small restaurant and not fancy, but great food. I recommend the Bistec Empanizado or the Lechon Asado for main courses, and empanadas de carne for an appetizer. Maduros, tostones and yuca are excellent.

  6. I am so excited that CubaLibre will be opening here in the DC area. I always visit the restaurant in Philadephia and in Atlantic City. I hope that the restaurant lives up to the spectacular standards that the Philadephia restaurant upholds. Can’t wait to enjoy the MOJITOS!!!

  7. I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to see Cuba Libre is opening a DC location! We have been driving to Philly from Baltimore several times a year, for the last several years, just to eat the incredible food. Be warned, once you have a Cuba Libre mojito made with real guarapo from their freshly pressed sugar cane (NOT sugar water) you will never want one from anywhere else!

  8. Cuba de Ayer _ is the only restaurant in the area and the food is awful! Its just terrible, burnt oil – deffinately not for Cuban’s who know what the good thing should taste like.
    Cuba Libre is awesome though, but who knows when they will actually open, I keep seeing Spring 2010 – and its June!

  9. Cubanos in Silver Spring is awesome! Their roast pork is the best anywhere..I went hunting in Miami for one better and couldnt find it

  10. Eddie, it opened on October 1st. You can make reservations on They had an amazing deal: opening week was 50% off food, and until tomorrow, it will be 25% off food. Starting Thursday, full price on all food. I’ve been twice, and it’s been great! A little different from Philly (it’s not as laid-back/casual as the Philly location, it’s in line with DC prices, so slightly more expensive, and the decor is slightly cheesy), but I think you’ll like it overall.