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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Los Nardos

    $ | Centro Habana | Cajun

    Situated right across from the Capitolio, it might be easy to miss Los Nardos if it wasn't for the long queues. Popular among locals, hefty...Read More

  • 11. Paladar el Piccolo

    $ | Habana del Este | Italian

    This place is a little far out of town, but hitch a ride on one of Guanabo's quaint horse and carts, and for a couple of CUC's, you'll be there...Read More

  • 12. Restaurante Europa

    $ | La Habana Vieja | Cajun

    From its beginnings as the 19th-century Europa Café, the onetime famous colonial-style café and candy shop has reopened as a restaurant serving...Read More

  • 13. Restaurante Paris

    $$ | La Habana Vieja | Cajun

    Formerly named El Patio, Restaurante Paris is still a romantic and atmospheric option for a meal. It might be hard to pick a spot here: tables...Read More

  • 14. Tien-Tan

    $ | Centro Habana | Chinese

    Its name means "heaven's temple" in Mandarin, and this temple to Chinese cuisine has enough worshippers that you'll be lucky to find a spot...Read More

  • 15. Vuelta Abajo

    $$ | La Habana Vieja | Cajun

    An elegant, intimate spot in the Hostal Conde de Villanueva, this restaurant specializes in dishes from Vuelta Abajo, Cuba's best tobacco-growing...Read More

  • 16. Al Medina

    $$$ | La Habana Vieja | Middle Eastern

    This restaurant is part of an Arabic cultural center with the city's only mosque and an oasis-like courtyard that hosts arts-and-crafts shows...Read More

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