Coppelia is Cuban’s most favorite ice cream shop. Its opening in 1966 was held as a revolutionary success by Fidel Castro, a lifelong dairy lover, who denounced everything related to the U.S. except ice cream. One of the most iconic photos of Castro’s whirlwind 1959 visit to the U.S. was the revolutionary hero eating an ice cream cone while riding in a Bronx zoo train. After his return from the U.S., relations between the two countries worsened and he vowed to create his own socialist ice cream that could rival that of the Yankees. Hence the birth of Coppelia.
Cuban’s devotion to ice cream is almost religious, and there’s good reason why the shop is popularly known as the “ice-cream Cathedral.” Going to Coppelia is a true family event. When distant relatives or friends visit Havana, locals dress up and bring them to the parlor for several scoops of the famed strawberry- and chocolate-flavored ice cream, popularized by the 1994 Oscar-nominated Cuban movie Fiesta y Chocolate. New flavors such as vanilla were later added to the menu, and waiting in line is part of the ritual of getting ice cream here. Prices are very affordable, $0.4 CUC for one scoop. Be mindful where you are queuing. There is a separate and usually much longer line for those paying in Cuban national peso, at a much lower price.