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El Floridita restaurant creates cozy atmosphere

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”My father was a big Ernest Hemingway fan,” says Armando Castro Jr. ”He’d go to Havana and find Hemingway drinking at this bar called El Floridita.” Papa wasn’t alone — Gary Cooper and Errol Flynn also favored the Havana spot, which was built in 1890. ”People would go to drink and socialize. That’s what we’ve created here.” And it works: Castro’s El Floridita (which he co-owns with his father), an intimate Cuban restaurant-salsa club in Hollywood, is a favorite hideaway for the Coopers and Flynns of ’90s Tinseltown; on any given night, Jack Nicholson, Jimmy Smits, Robert Duvall, and Sandra Bullock can be found grooving to the music. On Mondays, Johnny Polanco y Conjunto Amistad perform East Coast-flavored salsa, while weekends find Cubanakan’s traditional style. As for Armando Sr., he’s that gentleman holding court at his own table, puffing on cigars and still living the Heming-way.

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