Havana Restaurants

Shortages of raw materials and a bureaucratized approach to food preparation in state-owned restaurants have produced many a mediocre meal, but with the privateer restaurants leading the way, Cuban cuisine is coming back. For the best cooking in Havana, seek out the paladares (privately owned establishments; the name, which literally means "palates," was cribbed from a popular Brazilian soap opera in which the heroine makes her fortune with a roadside restaurant named "El Paladar de Raquel"). Call ahead to reserve a table if you go to a paladar, and never believe a taxi driver who swears to you that the place is closed; he gets a commission for taking you to the place he is flacking for.

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  • 1. Decamerón

    $$ | Vedado | Cuban

    Ring the bell of this cozy paladar to be let into a series of intimate rooms packed with an eclectic array of antique clocks, vintage musical...Read More

  • 2. El Cocinero

    $$ | Vedado | International

    Housed in an old renovated oil mill, this place is easy to find, as the paladar's name is branded in giant letters across the towering brick...Read More

  • 3. La Guarida

    $$$$ | Centro Habana | Latin American

    Still Havana's most famous paladar, La Guardia has reached almost legendary status. Enrique Nuñez and his wife, Odeysis, have transformed their...Read More

  • 4. Paladar Maeda

    $ | Cuban

    In a small residential area on top of a hill in Guanabo, this charming paladar is the best in town. What's more is that it actually does feel...Read More

  • 5. Aguiar

    $$$$ | Vedado | European

    For decades, the elegant dining room in the Hotel Nacional has been one of the city's premier establishments. Despite the table-side shrimp...Read More

  • 6. Bodegón Onda

    $$ | La Habana Vieja | Spanish

    In a quiet corner next to the Hotel El Comendador, this restaurant offers an array of tapas, which includes various seafood offerings. On top...Read More

  • 7. Cafe de los Artistas

    $ | La Habana Vieja | International

    Located down the trendy Callejón de Peluquerros, lined with new paladares, bars, and art galleries, this eatery offers some of the tastiest...Read More

  • 8. Café del Oriente

    $$ | La Habana Vieja | Cajun

    One of the most sophisticated-looking eateries in Havana Vieja, this upscale restaurant sits on the atmospheric Plaza de San Francisco. Try...Read More

  • 9. Café Laurent

    $$ | Vedado | Eclectic

    This chic paladar, situated in the penthouse of a Vedado apartment block, could very well be located in Paris or Barcelona with its funky decor...Read More

  • 10. Don Cangrejo

    $$ | Miramar | Seafood

    Located near the seafront in the open air, this is one of Havana's best seafood restaurants. Shrimp, crab, lobster, grouper, snapper: every...Read More

  • 11. El Aljibe

    $$ | Miramar | Cajun

    One of the better state-owned restaurants, El Aljibe offers a pretty open-air setting and live music while you dine. The criollo fare here is...Read More

  • 12. El Figaro

    $$ | La Habana Vieja | International

    Another popular addition to Callejón de Peluquerros (Barbers' Alley), El Figaro's tagline is comida sin pelos (food without hairs). The menu...Read More

  • 13. El Mesón de la Flota

    $$ | La Habana Vieja | Spanish

    Opened on the site of a warehouse that was frequented by Spanish sailors in colonial times, this little hideaway serves such creditable Spanish...Read More

  • 14. Hanoi

    $ | Centro Habana | Cuban

    Also known as Casa de la Parra (House of the Grape Arbor), this simple, yet elegant restaurant only specializes in typical criollo and Cuban...Read More

  • 15. Jardín del Oriente

    $ | La Habana Vieja | Cuban

    Those on a budget should try this lovely little place located in the gardens of Café del Oriente, which is just around the corner. A favorite...Read More

  • 16. La Divina Pastora

    $$ | Habana del Este | Cuban

    Although prices are on the high side, the romantic location makes them worth it. Standing at the foot of El Morro, this restaurant offers splendid...Read More

  • 17. La Flor de Loto

    $ | Centro Habana | Chinese

    While both its decor, neighborhood, and context may be Chinese, this restaurant has very little to do with the Orient. (Frankly, rare is the...Read More

  • 18. La Fontana

    $$ | Miramar | Eclectic

    Set in a scenic garden, around small ponds and fountains, this is one of Miramar's best paladares, which also functions as a bar and lounge...Read More

  • 19. La Paella

    $$ | La Habana Vieja | Spanish

    In the Hostal Valencia, this restaurant specializes in paella, just as its name suggests, and has won high praise for its Valencian dishes....Read More

  • 20. Le Chansonnier

    $$ | Vedado | French

    Once a private French restaurant, Le Chansonnier has now emerged into one of Havana's hottest paladares under the direction of Hector Higueras...Read More

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