Visit London Blog » latin american london Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 El Salvador in London: Musician Henry Bran Thu, 22 Dec 2011 12:00:43 +0000 Singer-songwriter Henry Bran was born in El Salvador but has lived in London since the 1980s. Here he is performing at London’s Bolivar Hall  in 2010.

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Cuba in London: Cubana Restaurant and Bar Sun, 24 Apr 2011 10:00:20 +0000

We spoke to Cubana founder and Managing Director Phillip Oppenheim about opening Cubana 12 years ago, scouring Cuba for pre-revolution recipes and serving the first mojitos in London:

Choosing Cuban Cuisine

I was always fascinated by food and drink and fortunate to have travelled widely. I was a journalist in the early part of my career but I always wanted to do a restaurant. I thought of sushi in London or a greasy spoon in Paris. I wanted to do something different, not a theme bar. By the time we got round to it, sushi had already been done in London.

My then-girlfriend had studied Cuba at university. Although I had travelled a lot, I wasn’t very familiar with Latin America so we went there. We discovered cocktail culture (we served the first mojitos in London), cigars and salsa but the food had gone into decline after the Communist revolution.

To research the food, we found old pre-revolutionary cook books in a book market in Havana and we also found old plantation cooks in the countryside who gave us recipes. We also got some from Cuban-Americans in Miami. We found the mojito recipe from a barman in an illegal private bar in Havana – at that time no-one did mojitos and we brought them to the UK.

Cuban Food at Cubana

Cuban food is obviously Latin American but Mexican is spicier. Cuban food is based on very good ingredients so they don’t need to use too much spice. It’s an eclectic cuisine with North African and Spanish influences.

Our food is always made from fresh ingredients – we never use anything pre-prepared. Everything is free-range – we’ve even received an RSPCA award. Our steaks are from a top quality supplier. We use fresh fruit to make our cocktails – apart from cranberry juice!

We have two signature dishes: Pollo Criollo, that’s free-range chicken marinated in orange juice served with fried plantain and black bean rice. And Ropa Vieja which means “old clothes”. It’s a gloopy, shredded beef stew that takes a day to cook – it’s real comfort food. We sell a lot of it at Glastonbury festival.

Bringing Cuba To London

There aren’t vast numbers of Cubans in London but we get a steady flow in Cubana. The guys from the Embassy often come in and we have Cuban bands that play here. We have lots of Spanish and South American staff.

We do Cuban music and street food as part of Waterloo Carnival and Waterloo Quarter – there are music and street food events throughout July. We also have a Cubana event at Glastonbury festival.

Why Visit Cubana?

Fresh food, great cocktails, reasonable prices.

Cubana, 48 Lower Marsh, SE1 7RG

Where else can you enjoy Cuban culture in London? Tell us in the comments below.

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Puerto Rico in London: Salsa and Reggaeton Fri, 18 Feb 2011 10:30:28 +0000

Puerto Rican Marco Santos tells us about Puerto Rico in London for our World in London project.

Long ago I got fed up with fantastic weather, great food and generous people and decided to leave Puerto Rico for other shores.

After years in the US, and generally wandering about, I’ve settled in London which fulfils two of the above three and adds two millennia worth of culture and history!

Still, as the song goes and like most of us who end up leaving, I do long for Viejo San Juan.

Salsa in London

“Despite a 20th century habit of emigration, you won’t find many Puerto Ricans in London. Most of us who do leave the island end up on the other side of the big pond, in New York or Florida.

What you will get in London is a big helping of our musical exports, be they pop icons (shake your bon-bons please Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin) or our sizeable contribution to the well-known musical genre of salsa, which most of us have been dancing to since we were toddlers.

Try some of your local London salsa clubs and you will no doubt hear one of our musicians: People in the know say you can always tell if there’s a “boricua” on the congas.

Reggaeton in London

More recently (well, in the last five years or so) you’ll have heard some of our more heavily street hip-grinding beats of reggeaton: seeded in Panama, developed in Puerto Rico and exploding throughout the Latin American community.

Artists like Wisin & Yandel, Don Omar, Daddy Yankee and my personal favourite Tego Calderon do make the trip and put on a wild show. Special mention reserved for cross-over artists Calle 13, who have taken a very strong political message and broader musical style and chalked up countless Grammies as a result.

Go to a gig – the energy is spectacular and you won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing.  Or you can check out a reggaeton club, where you’ll likely find a higher concentration of the broader Latin community.

More Puerto Rican Culture in London

The few of us who are in London are often students or professionals and the community is so small that we don’t have any restaurants, markets or organizations.  If you know of any, I’d love to hear of them!

Do you have any more tips for sampling Puerto Rican culture in London? Let us know in the comments below.

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Uruguay in London: Photographer Julio Etchart Fri, 29 Oct 2010 14:14:17 +0000

To find a little piece of Uruguay in London, I spoke to photographer Julio Etchart, who moved from Uruguay to London in the 1970s. Julio has worked all over the world on projects ranging from music commissions, magazines and displays for charitable organisations such as Oxfam. He is currently exhibiting at the Apples and Pears Gallery in East London.

Both Uruguay and London have an influence on Julio’s work:

“All my career has been for NGOs and charities that work in development. I’d like to think the influence is there. Uruguay is a very cultural country. It has a very high literacy rate and good state education. But being [in London] at the centre of the cultural capital of the world has broadened my horizons. I was influenced by many cultures here.”

And what is the Uruguayan community in London like?

“We are a small community of 400 or so.

“There isn’t anything that you could call Uruguayan in London – apart from the expats, of course! There used to be a fine restaurant in Camden, the well-known Camden Brasserie, set up and run by two Uruguayan brothers for almost 25 years. But though they kept the place, they are both retired back home and they just got a (non-Uruguayan) manager to run it. That’s the closest you get to it.”

But even without a physical hub in London, there is one thing that unites the Uruguayan community here: football! Uruguay reached the semi-finals in this year’s World Cup:

“The World Cup was the only opportunity for the expats to get together. It only happened once, at the semifinals: a group of us, invited by the ambassador, got together at an English pub in West London to watch it.

“I watched most of the games at the Rich Mix cultural centre in Bethnal Green, since I was invited to have a slide show of my football photo gallery on the big screen during the intervals.” [You can see the slide show at]

Uruguay has even enjoyed Olympic football success:

“Uruguay won the football World Cup twice (in 1930 and 1950) a long time ago, though, but we also won the Olympics Football cup (before the World Cup was actually instituted) at the Paris and Amsterdam Olympics of 1924 and 1928. So there is a strong, albeit old, Olympic connection there.”

Julio’s current photography exhibition, Katha: In the Footsteps of George Orwell in Burma is showing at the Apples and Pears Gallery, documenting Orwell’s five years in Burma and locations from his novel Burmese Days:

“I read all of his novels in translation as a child. I went to the places where Burmese Days was written and followed the trail. It’s a travelogue.”

Julio’s next project is an exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of the independence of Latin American countries. It takes place in City Hall from 22 November 2010.

Do you know of anything Uruguayan in London? We’d love to know.

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Cal Jader’s Guide to Latin American London Sun, 02 Aug 2009 09:00:42 +0000 Dancers at Carnaval del Pueblo

Carnival del Pueblo is upon us, and if the day of colour, music and fun is over too soon, you can keep the Latin spirit alive with DJ Cal Jader‘s guide to the best Latin American nights and venues in London.

1.  Movimientos
I might be biased, but Movimientos live music nights get my vote! They take place at the Notting Hill Arts Club, and Dalston’s Passing Clouds, and are a unique showcase of all types of Latin and global music. You can hear sets from me, Clem George and other guests bringing in the sounds of the Latin underground. Plus, Muevete is its sister Saturday night.

2.  Viva La Revolucion!
Fridays Upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s sees the Viva La Revolucion team present the finest Cuban Son, salsa and flamenco jam sessions with regular guests Son De Havana, Susana Lang Lenton and Motimba.

3.  La Bomba
At SeOne and Ministry of Sound, DJs Jose Luis, El Moreno and Julian M host London’s No.1 Latin urban meltdown mixing reggaeton, salsa and merengue with R&B, hip hop and commercial beats, plus occasional special live reggaeton PAs from international guests. Don’t miss La Bomba!

4.  Arriba La Cumbia
The Hackney Globe Trotter (aka Russ Jones) brings his irreverent spin on the world of Cumbia with a night of tropical, ranking and skanking Latin mayhem with live guests and DJs.  

5.  Latin Mafia
Brand new night at the Old Queens Head from 23 August. Afro-Cuban funk and fusion band Los Esputniks, featuring Clem George and Koichi Sakai, will host a Latin-themed jam session. 

6.  Fiesta Sun Bailante
The hardest working promoters in town recently moved their Tropical themed party to the Ruby Lo in Central London where you are guaranteed popular Latin, Caribbean and global beats all night, plus occasional live guests.  

7.  Camino
Camino’s summer series, Fiesta en La Calle hosted by Movimientos, continues on 12 September. JungleDrums magazine also host a showcase of live Brazilian music once a month. There are also numerous other DJ nights and live nights at Camino, one of London’s finest Spanish bar and restaurants. 

8.  Guanabara
With live music pretty much guaranteed every night regular house bands complement the international guests that jet in from Brazil to perform at London’s premier Brazilian themed club, Guanabara.

9.  Favela Chic
Regular live music and jam sessions during the week while on the weekend, DJs including Gringo do Parada mix up Brazilian and Latin with pop, dance and electro! 

10.  Cubana
Cubana is a Cuban themed restaurant and bar hosts regular live salsa nights at the weekends…

Thanks to Cal for sharing his tips with us! Check out Visit London’s guide to Latin American London for more ideas…

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