Cuban festival turns Queen Street into Castro Street—sort of

Cuban festival turns Queen Street into Castro Street—sort of

Viva! Cuban food and drink come to Little Portugal (Photo by Omid Tavallai)

This weekend, West Queen West goes Cubano with the second annual Havana Cultura Festival. There will be music, cigar rolling and, most importantly, Cuban-inspired culinary experiences from 16 restaurants and bars along Ossington, Queen and Dundas. One unlikely participant this year is Poutini’s. For the first time since opening, they will be offering something other than their standard menu dish: a “Cuban-style frijole” poutine consisting of black beans, onions, garlic, peppers, tomato and herbs over fries, and topped with sour cream and cilantro (it’s traditionally served over rice). On Saturday night, the staff will be manning a booth across the street in order to serve the same frijole over a baked potato instead of fries.

Aside from its famous Cuban sandwich, Delux will be offering poetry readings from chef Corinna Mozo’s poet father, Emilio, who is flying in from Boston. Down the street, Levack Block and The Ossington plan on making Cuban beverages: rum-based punch at the latter and mojitos at the former (not exactly a stretch from a typical cocktail menu, but they’re Cuban nonetheless). The Gladstone Hotel will also have a special menu, but chef Marc Breton had yet to prepare anything when we checked in yesterday. “Yeah, it’s something I’ll have to get started on,” says the chef.

The participating restaurants and bars are:

Gladstone Hotel (food, music, cocktails)
• Wrongbar (cocktails)
• Parkdale Unit Snackbar (cocktails)
• Brooklynn (cocktails, music, bartending clinic)
• Cinnamon Girls (food)
• Lot 16 (cocktails)
• Poutini’s (food)
• The Social (cocktails)
• Julie’s Cuban Restaurant (food, cocktails)
• The Ossington (art, food, cocktails)
• Levack Block (music, cocktails)
• Delux (food, cocktails, poetry)
• Crooked Star (music, art, food, cocktails)
• Sweaty Betty’s (music)
• Lula Lounge (Cigar rolling, music)
• The Parkdale Drink (Cigar rolling)

The Havana Cultura Festival, Sept. 24 to 27, various locations on Ossington Ave. and Queen St. W.,