A beloved institution for locals and a rite of passage for many visitors, La Vitrola exudes an air of Old Havana gloriously brought into the present with whirling ceiling fans, a tiled floor dotted with potted palms, and debonair waiters in starched white uniforms. This is the place where local politicians, writers, and artists meet and muse over aged rum and Caribbean classics such as grilled langostinos or tuna steak with shaved mango and avocado, or traditional Cuban ropa vieja, all the while toe-tapping to an exhilarating soundtrack courtesy of the six-man Cuban band. Certainly, there is an old school formality here that may not be to everyone’s taste; shorts, flip-flops, and kids under 15 are politely shunned. The ambience and people-watching arguably trumps the quality of the food, which, in resting hard on its laurels, has lost much of its cachet to Cartagena’s newer and more innovative culinary haunts.