Where to: Mariel, a Havana-inspired restaurant and lounge from the group behind Yvonne’s, Lolita, and Ruka.
Why: Perhaps you were Ernest Hemingway in a previous life? That would explain your longings for daiquiris, lechon asado, and decor with an aesthetic the Mariel team describes as “decayed elegance.” Here’s where to indulge in a romanticized vision of Cuba past.
The Back Story: COJE Management Group specializes in creating environments that transport you, fantastical escapes. They transformed old-school Locke-Ober into the sexy nightspot Yvonne’s, with curved chartreuse booths, grand chandeliers, and a library bar lined with books and portraits. Lolita in Fort Point offers subterranean waterside revelry, plus glamorous Mexican fare and high-end tequila. Mariel follows in the same vein. Located in an old bank, it features murals and marble and flattering lighting. (There was originally talk that it would be a cigar bar, but that never came to pass.) The restaurant’s press release states, about the decor: “Each detail represents an era full of prosperity followed by haunting desolation.” That’s so 2019.
What to Eat: The deviled crab enchilado is a rich, retro dip to be spread on garlic toasts. It’s among tempting snacks like yuca cheese puffs, pork empanadas, smoked kingfish dip, and black-eyed pea fritters; small plates such as fufu gnocchi (made from plantains) and blackened shrimp with pickled star fruit; Cuban-style pizzas with various toppings; and larger plates (the aforementioned lechon asado) to share.
What to Drink: Mojitos and daiquiris come in several iterations, making use of ingredients like the mint hierbabuena and lulo, a sprightly citrus. The Mariel mojito is a straight-up version, refreshingly tart and herbal. Many of the cocktails make good use of rum. There’s no Cuban beer, but Colombian Aguila is a decent stand-in. Fresh juices are available, too.
The Takeaway: You’ll come to Mariel for the stylish decor and social crowd, but you’ll stay for the fufu gnocchi and daiquiris.
10 Post Office Square, Boston, 617-333-8776, www.barmariel.com