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Havana restaurants

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We're leaving on Tuesday for the International Jazz Festival in Havana. I'm wondering if anyone who has been there recently has any restaurant recommendations. Especially any insight into paladares, I understand they appear and disappear fairly quickly. Thanks for any suggestions.

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    Hi Jean:

    Boy do I envy you. Always wanted to get to the Jazz Festival but my schedule has never been in sync with the festival. Been to Havana 6 times.

    I stayed at a Casa Particular so I get my fill of home cooked Cuban food there. I eat out at other restaurants for a change and haven't actually tried the Paladares.

    1) EL ALJIBE in Miramar offers a great house specialty, Lemon Chicken. Grand and not too pricey. Their wine selection isn't too bad either. Mostly from Torres, a Spanish company, but good none the less.

    2) EL FLORIDITA in Habana Vieja (Old Havana) serves the absolute BEST frozen daquiri imaginable. But at $6.00 per drink it is a little pricey. But that is the bar and drink made famous by Hemmingway and for it's historic note, and lots of photos of Papa Hemingway on the walls (with Fidel no less) is neat. Food is pretty good as well, but I have only eaten in the bar section, not the dining room.

    3) EL PATIO in Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square in Habana Vieja) is also great. You can dine inside or outside in the square under unbrellas. I have always preferred the outside because the music isn't quite as loud, and also I simply love to soak up the atmosphere in the Plaza. Service can be a bit slow however. I often stop here for lunch (Sandwich Cubano) with a cold Crystal Beer. Very nice.

    4) LA BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO
    If you are in Havana and want a great Mojita at the legendary bar made famous by Ernest hemmingway, then you have to have a drink at The Bodeguita Del Medio, Empedrado 207, Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Comida Criolla y Mojitos (Native food and Mojitos), what a great place to eat and drink. Located just around the corner from Cathedral Square. The walls are covered with signatures of its patrons from the day it opened. Famous signatures such as Hemmingway's and Salvadore Allende's are protected under glass. No visit to Havana is complete without a Mojito at the Bodeguita.

    5) LA DIVINA PASTORA. Tucked into the berth of the sailing ship El Galeón at the foot of El Morro Castle, it is a good spot for dinner after the cañonazo (cannon blast) at La Cabaña. I took my girlfriend here and the atmosphere is terrific. Soft breeze, soft music and soft lips. What a treat. Very romantic spot with the lights of the harbor glimmering. The food is good too. Not a place where you have paid for the view and get substandard fare. Worth every penny, though it does take quite a few of them. If you only have one night and want to make it special, then this is the place to go.

    In addition, on Calle Obispo in Old Havana there are many outdoor cafes and other cafes as well. My favourite of these are just off the edge of Plaza de Armas at the corner of Obispo and Oficios. There are three cafes in a row. Cafe La Mina, Casa del Agua la Tinaja, and Dulceria Dona Teresa. All offer good food and great ambience on the outdoor patios. The Dulceria Dona Teresa has a wonderful large well stocked bowl of soup that is just great with a Sandwich Cubano for lunch. With a Cerveza Crystal (beer) it will run you about $10 for the whole thing.

    To the west of the Capitolo on Ave. Dragones is a small China Town. Not bad actually. I wandered around and ate at a place that looked nice. Sorry, didn't note the name.

    You must think all I do is eat. In six trips I have found some nice spots and spend the time just relaxing and absorbing the atmosphere.

    Have fun and FORGET THE DIET.

    You might like to see some photos I took in Cuba. The site is in progress, but you might enjoy it.

    www.picturetrail.com/photocuba

    Links to Cuban Information.

    http://www.1click2cuba.com/menu.html

    www.cuba-junky.com

    Have Fun and enjoy yourself.

    Steve





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