A guide to the best restaurants in Havana
Cuba‘s capital Havana is one of the best places on the island for really experiencing the local culture. In recent years an increasing number of cool dining spots have opened up, allowing both locals and visitors to sample some of the best of Cuban cooking. ‘Paladares’, or private dining rooms, are the best places to head to for excellent seafood, rice and a whole variety of exotic stews on your Havana holidays. Ropa Vieja – shredded lamb – is always a favourite here, as is grilled pork and a fantastic variety of exotic cocktails.
Homestyle cooking at Dona Eutemia
For an original taste of Cuban cooking on your holiday to Havana, a meal at Dona Eutemia is sure to fit the bill. Expect to enjoy ropa vieja accompanied with malanga fritters, which look like a yam and taste like a potato. With generous portions and enticing prices, this Latin kitchen is definitely worth tracking down.
A Vietnamese twist at Hanoi
Dating back the days of socialism, Hanoi, also know as Casa de la Parra, serves Cuban staples with a Vietnamese twist. The restaurant is situated in Old Havana and is an absolute bargain. Enjoy the live guitar music and sample some of the delicious seafood and meat dishes – the roots with Creole sauce is a standout.
In Hemingway's footsteps at La Bodeguitta Del Medio
The famous novelist Ernest Hemingway used to start his evenings here with a vibrant Mojito, and you can follow in his footsteps. As a result of its iconic reputation, La Bodeguitta del Medio is popular with tourists and locals. Expect to see steaks, lobster and an assortment of grilled meats on the menu. Make sure you add your graffiti to the wall, too – it’s expected.
Gastronauts are welcome at La Guarida
Gaze out onto the rooftops of Havana as you enjoy your meal at La Guarida. Used as a backdrop for the film ‘Strawberry and Chocolate’ and comprising three dining rooms, all packed with curios, a meal here is as enticing as the stunning interior decor. This paladar – owner-run restaurant – serves watermelon soup, tuna steaks and a whole range of exquisitely presented dishes.
Pasta delights at Prado Y Neptuno
Taste some of the best pasta and pizzas outside Italy at Prado y Neptuna. It’s located in a stunning old building, though the restaurant itself has a very contemporary feel. Pasta penne is recommended, as are the stunning array of pizzas.
Local tastes at San Cristobal Paladar
Malanga, yucca and prawns are all on the menu at the charming San Cristobal Paladar. Enjoy the decor, chat to the host and enjoy a liqueur on the house as well as sampling a Cuban cigar. It’s not all about the adults here though, as the restaurant also offers a special children’s menu.
Enjoy the naval atmosphere at Nao Bar Paladar
This restaurant is as famous for its nautically inspired interior as it is for its food. Resembling an 18th century galleon, you can eat your Lechon Asada grilled pork in some style. Lovers of mojitos and pina caladas will be overjoyed and there’s an extensive wine list to boot.
Basque joy at El Templete
You may be dining in Cuba, but at El Templete, you can enjoy Basque and Spanish dishes too. There’s Galician style octopus and the houmous is sublime. The restaurant also serves oxtail and a delicious paella.
Old meets new at El Cocinero
The building where you’ll find El Cocinero used to be an old cooking oil factory. Today, the building has been revamped and all that remains of its previous incarnation is a massive chimney towering over the district. This is the place of choice for the Havana cool crowd, with a sophisticated menu that includes duck confit and blinis among its dishes.
Eating on high at El Torre
Situated on the 34th floor of Havana’s tallest building, FOSCA, this state run restaurant is the place to go for a celebration. The menu is a mix of French and Cuban favourites and the view from El Torre is fabulous. The prices are a tad steep, but if you’re going to be sitting down to a meal of artichokes, pate de foie gras or even a deliciously moist tarte amandine, you know that you’ll be in for a real treat.