Los Amigos: A Black Family owned Paladar
a paladar in a private home. this one owned by black cubans, since most of the paladares are owned by white cubans, who have houses good enough to house the paladares or means.
I normally dont go to paladares for many reasons some of which may be ideological. I had pariticpated once in a paladar operation when there were hundreds of paladares in havana and the owner cheated every one and is now running a restaurant in Miami. Good Riddance!
Favorite Dish: the dishes are local. abundant and nothing that special that cuban families dont cook at home. so it is better to go there with visitors who enjoy the cuban ambience, the abundant cuban food and the enterpreunerial spirit of the cubans
i had chicken as i was not advised to eat fish which may not have been fresh in this searing heat. i made the mistake of asking for anejo blanco rum which was more likely a mixture and bad to the stomach
the bill was about 11 cuc per person. quality of food comparable to miami cuban restaurants but with less grease
La Roca: Good Ambience, Reasonably priced Cuban Food
Favorite Dish: I usually order the lunch specials which come with a large main dish, a fruit juice or beer or water and icecream if you like. the price is around 4 cuc. an elderly pianist is there belting out romantic melodies . good service and air conditioned.
Most of the clientele are cuban.
Don Cangrejo: State seafood!
This is a state-run restaurant and, at times, it shows- the service is rather slow (despite a nearly empty dining room) and the table cloths and walls a bit tattered etc. However, if you are growing sick of the typical "comida criolla" (aka rice and beans and meat every day), this is a good treat/alternative. They serve mostly seafood only here: fresh fish, crab, lobster, shrimps: all cooked in a variety of styles and served with different sauces. All plates come with rice and/or beans.
Favorite Dish: Get the tostones rellenos to start! DELICIOUS (it is mashed up green plantain that is flavoured with salt and fried up and then filled with cheese and ham).
Your pick: fresh fish, lobster and fish served in a creamy sauce, garlic shrimp etc.
They also had a charming 3-piece house band that played Cuban classics at our request. The location is nice, located right on the ocean (though a little bit scary when you are there hours before a hurricane, like we were!)
La Guarida: Relive the movie "Fresa y Chocolate"
This is supposedly one of the more "famous" paladares (privately-owned restaurant) in Havana. Its location is almost as worth it as the food!
It is on the third floor of a big old building in Centro Habana that was used in the famous movie Fresa y Chocolate.
The ambience is great, service excellent (yay, no huge waiting for food) though the prices are higher than average, so this is a treat. The food is still typical "comida criolla" (classical Cuban fare) with your favourites 'congri' (rice and black beans mixed together), 'platano frito' (fried bananas), yuca con mojo (cooked yuca with a delicious garlic sauce), fresh fish dishes etc.
This is not a very good place for non-fish eating vegetarians though they were more than happy to accommodate our two vegetarians by throwing some creative dishes together.
Favorite Dish: I had fresh fish in the house sauce, delicious - Cherna a la caimanera (parsley, garlic, oil etc). You have to order your sides ("guarniciones") extra: so if you want rice, salad, beans etc. don't forget to order those.
Alcoholic drinks are also about $3-4 CUC each, a bit higher than normal, but who can have a Cuban meal without a mojito?
artechef restaurant in vedado: a new find to dine
I was so happy to find this restaurant which is close to where I stay in Vedado. I was very surprised at the ambience and the service and the quality of the food. I am not a great fan of Paladar food and the paladar prices, so i was impressed at what the chefs from the academy of chefs of cuba, could provide: variety at a reasonable price.
Favorite Dish: It is quiet so it is a good place to talk and discuss. On my last night in Havana, I wanted to discuss plans and projects with my colleague, so this was a good option. No trios serenading you with Guantanamera or loud deep voices singing songs at the bar. A neighbourhood restaurant as you would find in other latin american capitals.
ArteChef: Nouveau Cuisine Cubaine
I was introduced to this cuban restaurant, not a paladar, by my friends Adriana and Mike who live in havana. It is attached to the Academy of cuban Chefs and msot of the chef at this institution are also professors at the academy. It was wonderful to see, on two occasions I have eaten here, the place is full of ordinary cubans, enjoying a good meal and a drink, all reasonably priced. the decoration is elegant and the service top notch. it is hard to believe that this is a state run restaurant. the prices are about half of what one would pay at a paladar.
one could even have a nice glass of wine! what a welcome relief
Favorite Dish: On my first visit I was recommended to eat Conejo, Rabbit, stewed. I am not a great fan of this meat, but wanted to try it.
On my second visit, I had grilled fish with fine herbs, which was very good.
glass of wine
ice cream or flan for dessert
you can eat well for about 7 cuc per person.
Hanoi: Great deal, great Creole food!
Despite the rather Vietnamese sounding name of the place, this restaurant serves some of the best Creole food we've eaten during our trip. For only 4 CUC, you get a hefty serving of chicken or pork, rice, black beans and fried plantains. We were there in the afternoon and the place was filled with tourists and Cubans, and a really good band came to play a few songs to add up to the atmosphere. A really great find, thanks to some of my fellow VTers!
Favorite Dish: My chicken was a little overcooked but Sylvain's lemon-flavored pork was absolutely delicious!Related to:
- Budget Travel
Santa Domingo Cafe, Dolceria: Nice, budget food
Santa Domingo Cafe, is on Obispo street, on the middle of touristic pattern. It is a modest place, offering bakery, cakes, pizza and pasta.Nice and budget place. If you do not like Cuban food much, it is a nice place to take a break.
Favorite Dish: Pizza was nice.Related to:
- School Holidays
- Budget Travel
El Guajirito: Dark Den of Good Food
We wanted to go to La Floridita for lunch, but our driver persuaded us to go to this place instead. He said it would be better value and that the food was genuine Cuban and very good. In fairness, he also explained that he would eat for free if he brought us there.
We climbed the five flights of steep stairs that lead to the restaurant and found ourselves in a cavern-like room, lined walls and ceiling with wood. It was dark and atmospheric, and as we sat in the gloom trying to read our menus a waitress lit white taper candles on each table.
The place was so authentic and almost illegal looking that I was surprised to get the typical touristic plastic covered menu.
As we studied the catre the waitress brought our drinks. In fact I was a little disappointed as later arrivals were brought menus and drinks first and I actually had to call someone for attention, even though we were seated by the bar. I was also disappointed in the drinks as we had ordered the famous mojitos which arrived mixed with sweet sprite, not plain soda. As I dislike sweet fizzy drinks, this spoiled it on me.
Then followed a Panama like straw hat used as a serving dish, with tiny bread rolls around the brim and a bowl of fresh garlic oil in the crown of the hat. That was very tasty.
Favorite Dish: There was quite a lot to chose from, though because it was so dark the menu was hard to read.
I started with the lobster soup and expected a type of bisque. You can therefore imagine my surprise to get vegetable broth with chunks of vegetables and some pieces of lobster thrown in for good measure. To be fair, they had added a generous serving of lobster, but because the broth was vegetable based you could not taste the lobster.
I followed this with the mixed fried seafood dish. Again because of the gloom all I could see was a load of shrimps on my plate mixed with something mushy. As I had no idea what the mushy thing was my imagination decided it was those baby eels I had in Puerto Banus and so my tummy turned and refused to accept more food. This was served with rice that contained some sort of black or brown bean.
Overall I regretted not following my desire to eat in La Floridita and I wouldn't recommend this place.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Food and Dining
- Family Travel
EL PATIO: TRADITIONAL CUBAN DISHES
As part of our tour to Havana, lunch was included. We were treated to a traditional Cuban restaurant EL PATIO which was located in Cathedral Square. It was a simply beautiful restaurant, with an outdoor terrace and when you walk in, there was an interior courtyard with tropical plants and birdcages. The restaurant is part of an 18th century Barocque style mansion - built in 1760 - the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras.
Our group was led upstairs to a private room, where we had a magnificent view of the Cathedral and the Square. Our choices were chicken, pork or seafood. Hans had the seafood and I had the chicken, which came with a small salad and white rice. One drink was included and also a dessert of Flan.
I read that El Patio is a good place to try the Cuban dish of "moros y Cristianos" - a combination of black beans and rice.Related to:
- Family Travel
Hurón Azul: The art of eat with art
The restaurant still shows in its walls a collection of paintings given by important Cuban artists, those artists that today make a homage to Carlos Enriquez and this is the color poured on each one of these cloths, the ones that narrate, as each painter experienced; and the life of this fantastic Cuban that made the paintbrush dance on the canvas, to go like in a saloon of colors willing to fill the glass with cane rum making his upset bohemian life, topic of each one of its paintings.
Favorite Dish: My favorite dish is Grumpy Pork. The grumpy Pork is presented as a pastry elaborated with loin lockets, filled with mature banana and fresh cheese, served with a black sauce made with black beans scented with cilantro. This dish have a delicious tastes.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Food and Dining
- Wine Tasting
Taberna de la Muralla: Best place for beer and barbeque!!
Taberna de la Muralla is a tavern-style place with a happening patio that opens onto Plaza Vieja. There's a brewery on-site so beer is the drink of choice, with three different types available for 2.00 CUC per glass, or 8.50 CUC for a huge pitcher. They also serve food, with an outdoor barbeque that serves delicious grilled skewers of shrimp, lobster, pork, chicken and chorizo sausage costing between 5.00 and 10.00 CUC for two.
Entertainment and atmosphere were really ideal for me; right on the patio under the stars, great live music, and great service. This was probably my favorite place in Havana Vieja, and I would totally recommend stopping in for a beer and a bite to eat.
Favorite Dish: The seafood skewers. Crispy and delicious right off the charcoal. Mmmmm...Related to:
- Beer Tasting
La Paella: Best Paella!
This small Spanish restaurant located inside Hostal Valencia has everything for a great dinner out: great service, great food and drinks, and good entertainment. The atmosphere is breezy and comfortable. An open roof, hanging vines everywhere, and cast iron tables and chairs gives this place a very patio feel. I thought the ambience was very romantic and natural, and that was one of the highlights of La Paella for me.
The paella is delicious. Two people share the house special, which includes chicken, shrimp and lobster for 9.00 CUC each. There are several appetizer options as well as an extensive drink menu. Entertainment consisted of a band with a Flamenco dancer, but they went with interesting American light-rock song choices: I've never heard a stranger version of Dust in the Wind. I would have preferred more traditional music, but it wasn't terrible or anything. Definitely worth a visit if you're a paella fan!!
Favorite Dish: Paella! There are several different kinds with combinations of pork, chicken, shrimp, fish and lobster.Related to:
- Food and Dining
El Meson de la Flota: Great night out!!
This was the first restaurant we visited during our visit to Havana, and it certainly set the bar high! This dimly lit and airy Spanish restaurant features a beautiful romantic decor of solid wood, a lofty high ceiling and an open, relaxed layout. Seafood dominates the menu, with several cheap tapas options like hummous and tortilla.
This place really earned it's high rating though with the amazing Flamenco music and dancing group 'Compania Sandra Bara', the free in-house entertainment. The dancers are so precise in their steps... almost surgical... and the top-notch musicians don't miss a beat either. We picked up one of their CD's we were so impressed.
Excellent food, good service, and great entertainment make El Meson de la Flota one of the best restaurants we visited in Havana.
Favorite Dish: Shrimps Catalan style: Shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce with rice. It was delicious. Also, the seafood skewers were really good, especially the white fish.Related to:
- Food and Dining
Cuban Supermarkets are bare and lacking of the usual Western Style Supermarket. Think spares and lacking, still when in Cuba do as Cubans do and pick up your snacks and available food from the nearest supermarket.Related to:
- Food and Dining
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