Cuba's top 40 Restaurant/Paladars


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Jose has put together his the top 40 places to eat in Havana.

For travelers to Havana, this is a "print and take" must clap.gif

Well done Jose. Great resource!

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TopTen Private restaurants in Havana (Part one) byPunch Joe

There are a lot of things going on atthe moment and one of these is the boom of private business, particularly thosein the gastronomic segment so it's my duty to leave some comments on the newand the already established ones. I will be more focused on the first ones. It'ssimply a guide of where to eat in Havana nowadays spiced with fun. J! No ratings such as theMichelin star system but this guide will come in handy whenever you decide tovisit them. In no way means that I have tried them all, but many have beenhonored to count me as a customer and this map only compiles those doingserious stuff, with a highly professional service, top quality food, innovativecuisine in keeping with fusion trends, personalized attention, excellent décorthat I strongly recommend my mates to visit. Hope this could be useful for youall.

1. La Guarida.

A must. Cuba's most famous restaurant which re-openedon December 2010. Remains the hippest, best restaurant in Havana. Amazing foodin a charming place. One word: authenticity. The wine list is impressive fromone end to another. Probably the greatest no matter if it may look like you areentering Inglewood or the Bronx. Don't pay attention to that. J Bookingsessential. Every taxi driver knows the place so it's recommended to get a cab toget there. His owner Enrique is a great host and loves smoking cigars.

Address:Concordia No 418 e/ Gervasio y Escobar, Centro Habana

Tel: + 53 7 866 9047

[email protected]

www.laguarida.com

2. La Cocina de Liliam

(Lilliam's cuisine) A cigar friendlyrestaurant. One of my favorites for long lunchs. The place is full ofantiques Beautiful patio with an Italiandécor and the tropical gardens birds, Japanese coy in the

There's also a dining room indoors forbig reservations and private dinners. Wine list is amazing

Top quality service. Bad news they are closed on Sundays andMondays since last June.

Booking in advance is recommended.

Address: 48 St No 1311 e/ 13 y 15,Miramar, Playa.

Hours: 12:00 m – 3:00 p.m. and 7:00p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 209 6514 (home) + 53 5 2925754 (mobile)

Website: being renovated at themoment.

3. La Fontana

Once again: The food, the service, thebar, the fun. Much better outdoors. We have been speaking about it in aprevious thread. The wedding at La Fontana.

Booking in advance is recommended.

Address: 46 St and 3ra A, No 305Miramar, Playa.

Owners: Horacio and Ernesto

Tel: + 53 7 202 8337

Web: www.lafontanahavana.info

4. La Moraleja Restaurant

post-4-0-20468600-1315957023.jpg

LAMORALEJARestaurant Paladar

Hours: from 12:00 m to midnight.

Calle 25 No 454 e/ J e I,Vedado, Plaza, Havana.

Tel: + 53 7 832 0963 (home) + 53 5 2707298 and + 53 5 243 7469 (mobile)

Email: [email protected]

Webpage: under construction

5. Habana Chef

post-4-0-31317700-1315957225.jpg

Habana Chef restaurant

Address: Calle 24No 360 e/ 21 y 23 St. Vedado. Havana.

Hours: 12:00 m – 12:00 p.m. All days.

Tel: + 53 7 830 1410

Facebook: www.habanachef.com

Webpage: in progress.

6. Café Laurent

post-4-0-95446300-1315957855.jpg

Address: Calle Me/ 19 y 21St. Vedado. Havana.

Hours: 12:00 m – 12:00 p.m. All days.

Owners: Lorenzo and Jose

Tel: +53 7 831 2090 and 832 6890

E-mail: [email protected]

7. El Gijonés

Under the patronage of the Federationof Asturian Society of Cuba and member of the Havana Gourmet restaurants, ElGijones opened doors a year ago and since then, has been captivating patronswith its gourmet food. On the way up, you will be escorted by a host waitress. Orshould I say…hot? Nevermind. The building is overwhelming and was built byAsturians to have a Society called Centro Asturiano club gathering all Lateron, the American Consulate was based here before the Revolution. The bar at thebottom floor has undergone an amazing work of restoration and is scheduled tobe opened very soon. with all theoriginal woods, freezers and Pullman chairs. There's also a place reserved for asmall jazz band.

In the second floor the cigar friendlyBar Oviedo and the new restaurant due to be opened very soon are located.Friday and Saturday nights bands perform live until midnight and the party continueslater at the bar. A great night out.

Right now my favorite thing to do isgoing to the top floor. The view of the Havana city is spectacular. There, atLa Terraza restaurant at the roof top, you can try an ample variety of dishesbut the lamb leg is simply something beyond your imagination. Ask whatevercomes across your mind from the grill. Chef Lucio is there to please you. No wonder they have gained a vastrecognition in so little time.

Address: Prado # 309 and Virtudes, OldHavana

Hours: from 12:00 m - 12:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 862 3625 / 862 3626

Bookings: [email protected] Web: www.havana-gourmet.com

8. Doctor Café (Healing body and spirit)

Owned by a family with a medical school backgroundwhose goal is healing body and soul through the food they supply. Conceived asa mom-and-pop restaurant is a great place for a long lunch.

Good idea is to sit outside and have a cigar whileyour meal is being created. Specially designed for those who love beingsurprised by the allures of both Cuban food and international cuisine. Withfifteen years under its belt, this bistro has built close ties with patronsthat keep coming back time and again to wallow in its top-quality proposals,the art of its chefs and the distinctive ability to choose the way you wantyour meal to be cooked.

Get crazy with the grilled octopus, the squid in ink,the sea snails and many more. There, in Miramar, a place called Dr. Cafewelcomes everybody to show how healthiness, art and gastronomy come together.

Address: Calle 28 No 111 e/ 1st and 3rdAvenue. Miramar, Playa. Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m to 12:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 2034718. +53 5 281 8263

www.drcafehabana.com

9. El Atelier

post-4-0-31026600-1315957927.jpg

Address: Calle5ta No 511 (upstairs) e/ Paseo y 2. Vedado. Havana

Tel: + 53 7 8362025

10. La Carboncita (Forza Italia!)

Don't get fooled by the modest dining area. In mypersonal opinion, the best pizzas in Havana to date. I have tried all pizzeriasat China Town, those reputed pizzas at the Melia Habana and Melia CohibaHotels, the Pachy's pizzas, State-owned Pizza Novas and El Farallón (the secondbest). That's the only reason that I included them here in the top ten.

Born 8 months ago when new licenses were granted forthe private initiative as a small cafeteria with a huge grill at the entrancewhile serving everything from fish to seafood a la plancha and good news it'sthat now they have grown bigger becoming a Pizzeria as well. Crusty pizzas like nowhere else, pesto, andvarieties of cheese, pasta, creams, focaccias, bread...etc. Maybe anItalian-born relative is behind this business. Mark my words: True ItalianPizzas.

Address: 3rd Avenue e/ 38 y 40. Miramar. Playa.

Tel: (Ooops, lost the number) just popin on my behalf.

· Ja-já

The owner Alejandro is theintellectual behind. Top notch kitchen appliances and other devices. Stillworking on the details for the Grand Opening in early November. It will be theone and only serving macrobiotic, dietetic, organic food for everyone. If it'shealthy food you are after, this will be the place. Not to be missed.

Address: Calle 11 e/ 64 y 66. Playa. Havana

Tel: + 53 7 209 5780

· Vistamar

A charming house with a great view. Actually, thepeculiar design of this house is still mentioned in architecture books as atoken of harmony and functionality. Youcan choose to have lunch either by the infinite pool or inside the house. Alsoa terrace available. Decent prices and very good service.

Address: 1st Avenue No 2206 e/ 22 y24. Miramar, Playa. Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m to 12:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 2038328

www.paladarvistamar.com

· La Casa

Another cigar friendly place. Some sayit had its golden years a while ago. Alejandro, his owner, thinks different.They are offering a wide selection of meat and wines. A very intimate place fora relaxed dinner in the middle of the Nuevo Vedado Metropolitan area.

Address: Calle 30No 865 e/ 26 y 41. NuevoVedado. Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m to 12:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 881 7000

· Pizzeria ElFarallón.

Reborn after a few years closed. Backin 1998, they were regarded as the best pizzeria in town. Located in a dead end by thecurve on 23rd St. Italian and Cuban cuisine. Pizzaal Pesto is my favorite. They also have lobster special and pork ribs. Theplus: Take away and order delivery services.

Address: Calle 23y 22. No 361. Vedado. Havana

Tel: + 53 7 8305187

E-mail: [email protected]

www.elfaralloncuba.com

· CasaBlanca

Recently opened it has already becomea landmark in Kohly, the residential neighborhood conveniently located on thehilltop overlooking the Metropolitan Forest in Havana. It wasn't named afterthat classical movie where Bogart and Bergman were shining on the screen. Theproprietor is Mrs. Rosemary Rubal and his Chef Roberto Martinez tries very hardto impress guests by offering new and imaginative recipes.

The setting, a roomy garden surroundedby the lush greenery of ferns and other tropical plants, provides a relaxingatmosphere to enjoy imaginative dishes made of fresh fruits and vegetables andhealthy, natural products.

A cozy dining space, with dim lightsand a nice atmosphere. I have never eaten there but I was told that is notpricey and the food is exquisite based on simple yet inspiring coursescombining almonds, honey, raisins, olives, balsamic vinegar and Cuban rums togive a magic touch to them.

Address: Ave 49 and 34thSt. No 3401. Kohly, Playa Municipality.

Tel: + 53 7 203 7232

E-mail: [email protected]

· El Decamerón

It resembles the typical Mom-and-Pop Bistro.Surrounded by relics from the past such as musical instruments, ancienttypewriters, water filters, stylish lamps, old doorknockers, but above all theold timed masterpieces in ebony hanging from the wall. The owner, Mrs NiuskaMiniet Diaz, says that the place has become an oasis of peace and pleasure inthe bustling Vedado area. Words that sounds true since it's just a few blocksaway from the Melia Cohiba Hotel.

Founded in the early 90's in the middle of the boom ofPaladars, and after a three years hiatus, has now resurged from the ashes likea phoenix with new proposals and roaring energy...and higher prices. L The mainspecialty of the house is genuine Cuban food but they offered an internationalmenu as well. It will be a sin, not to try the cassava empanadas stuffed withcrab and sugarcane syrup or the sword fish marinated with pineapple and radishvinegar. All products are fresh and natural, marked by the simplicity yet clungto the current trends that underscore the legitimate tastes and aromas.

Address: CalleLinea No 753 e/ Paseo y 2. Vedado, Havana.

Tel: + 53 7 83224 44

E-mail: [email protected]

F: www.facebook.com/RestauranteDecameron

· Bom Apetite

Another pizzeria in Playa municipality. Little morethan 6 blocks from the northern shoreline and pretty close to the city's majorhotel area, this puzzling place –currently undergoing an expansion project thatwill include a well-thought lobby bar- gives regulars the opportunity to revelin one of the island nation's most refined cocktail assortments and aconvenience take home service. A welldeserved recognition in Pastas and Pizzas and aside from that; they also servedifferent dishes at the Grill.

The pros: Take away service and appropriatefurnishings using bricks and wood resembling a Cuban colonial style.

The cons: a bit expensive regarding others offeringsame quality. The catch: 24/7 everyday.

For big groups, it's best booking in advance over thephone.

Address: Calle 11 No 7210 e/72 and 74. Playa, Havana.

Open 24/7

Tel: + 53 7 203 3634

www.paladar-bom-apetite.4t.com

· Castropol (RestauranteGourmet-Bar-Parrillada-Videobar-Salon Reservado)

The view from the terrace facing theMalecon sea drive is astonishing. Also part of the Federation of AsturianSociety of Cuba. Professional service. Featuring a one-of-a-kind barbecue. Foodis great and so are wines. They have a humidor inside but smoking is onlyallowed outside at the terrace. Great for late lunches or early dinners beforenightfall. Very chic and romantic. Also opened a hall for nightly functions.

Address: Malecon St. No 107 e/ Crespo y Genios Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m to 12:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 861 4864

· Pizzeria ElDiluvio

Forno a legna! Creole and Italianfood. Lasagnas and raviolis are very good.

Address: Calle72 No 1705 e/ 17 y 19. Playa. Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m to 11:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 2021531

E-mail: [email protected]

· El Carruaje

Opened early this year by the coupleof Mirka and Raoul. It's marked by a harmonic balance between décor and thesurrounding natural beauty, coupled with a variety of spaces for customers tobe at ease in such places. Mirka's cooking take patrons aback for itsattractive fusion style in which international cuisine and the finest Cubanfood are combined. Timely cooking, unmatched tastes and top-of-the-line serviceare reasons to keep coming to this amazing bistro located a little far from thechaotic central areas but still a choice for those who want to relax in atraditional Cuban place.

Address: Calle200 No 2104 e/ 21 y 23. Siboney,Playa. Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m to 11:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 271 4347 (home) + 53 5 2635144 (Mobile)

E-mail: [email protected]

[email protected]

· Gringo Viejo

Pretty close to 23rd St andG Avenue at El Vedado. Cozy, peculiar, genuine to the bones is the motto ofthis place. Founded over 15 years ago in the crazy days of the paladar boom ofthe 90's and still alive and kicking. Inthe words of his owner, Mr. Omar Gonzalez, this paladar keeps seducingcustomers with the best Cuban food money can buy. Eclectic decoration is noticedupon walking past the threshold featuring old country lamps, film posters, ceramicjars and wood shelves.

Some dishes have gained certainreputation such as the boiled chicken in pineapple sauce or the beef tail stewor maybe the strawberry scented rabbit which is a favorite among many. Omar isone of a kind character, a self entitled alchemist who loves to spend time atthe kitchen creating new recipes and combining flavors.

The Wild West style, with cowboys,hombres and adventures, music oldies from the 60's through the 80's and thepurest Cuban syncretism, this place harbors makes Gringo Viejo a one and onlyspot in the neck of the woods.

Open all days from 12:00 m to 11:00p.m.

Address: Calle 21No 454 e/ E y F, Vedado. Havana.

Tel: + 53 7 831 1946

· La Moneda Cubana

Featuring a privileged bird's eye viewof the highest aesthetic values of the architecture inherited from the colonialtimes, La Moneda Cubana invites clients to travel in time by the hand of hisowner Miguel Angel Morales, the man who has managed to expand the businesspassed on to him by his Asturian grandfather Ramon Menendez who founded a smallbusiness in that very place to provide food and liqueurs to the neighborhood. Alternateshifts but the same chef every day. This restaurant couldbe one of the runners up in the top ten regarding prices, quality food, serviceand location. Smokers are welcome. They have some singles for sale at the bar. Claimyour ashtray and don't let them take it away. J A gourmet cuisine specialized in seafood from lobster, shrimps, prawns to shellfish and clams. It's like dining inheaven. You may want to stay there forever, especially when your timepiece hits9:00 p.m. , cigar in hand and be the first to hear the sound of the cannonfired from the fortress nearby.

Address:Empedrado No 152 e/ Mercaderes y San Ignacio, Old Havana

Tel: + 53 7 861 5304 / + 53 5 264 4713 (mobile)

· Mamy's

Located next to the Cuba's fashionhouse La Maison, this traditional Cuban food restaurant has been operating overthe past 15 years. While the former is the palace where the latest fashiontrends are set up, the latter stands for the shrine of genuine Cuban cuisine.Based on the wise advisory of Grandmas that still treasure those wonderful recipesand the world that has beaten the passage of time, Mamy's is there to drivestress off and to make the entire Cuban family feel very much at home. Must trythe renowned Mamy's Imperial Chicken, or the fish fillet brushed with oliveoil, the smoked pork loins and also the beef stew. Beer and cocktails arepresent to get you freshen up anytime. Just enjoy.

Address: Calle 16 no 708 e/ 7thAvenue and 31 St. Miramar, Playa.

Open all days. Hours: from 12:00 m untilyou decide to leave

Tel: + 53 7 203 6700

www.mamyspaladar.comli.com

· Doña Eutimia

Next to El Patio Restaurant. Very goodseafood at reasonable prices. Service is over the average but not to launchfireworks either.

Address: Callejón del Chorro, at thecorner of Cathedral Square. Old Havana.

· El Hurón Azul (The Blue Ferret)

Reopened a while ago after the yearsof decay and scandal. New owner. Don't know how that happened. What I do knowis that the food is now much better than that of the previous reign. Not that Ihave anything against the old management but the new ones are in keeping withthe current trends regarding international cuisine.

A contemporary touch to Cuban food andnew additions of the most recognized plates of international cuisine to its eyepopping lineup. Try the duck a la orange or better ask the rabbit with honey.Wines are also good.

Address: CalleHumboldt y P .Vedado Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m to 12:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 833 3176 and 833 3178

· El Guajirito.

Calle Zulueta No 658, Old Havana.

Very good food. Colonial Decor. Authentic Cuban food.Good service.

· Paladar DoñaBlanquita

They say it is Cuban food at its best,homemade taste, homey warmth to all clients. Only the very best for anybodywilling to unravel the secret trappings of domestic cuisine. With a marineheart, thoughtful and quite genuine in the nitty-gritty fabrics, for many DoñaBlanquita is a token of good cooking andhospitality in this old and luring city. Right in the heart of Old Havana. Momwill love this place.

Open all days. From 12:00 m. to 12:00p.m.

Address: Prado No158 (upstairs) e/ Refugio y Colón. Havana.

Tel: + 53 7 867 4958

· Los Nardos (Los Nardos-El Asturianito-El Trofeo)

Located across the Capitol Building greenareas in the very Prado Promenade., this place is also part of the Federationof Asturian Society of Cuba and offers a wide menu but it is the huge portionsserved the ones that have gained wide popularity among Cubans. Chefs IsmelNavarro and Angel Ochoa will wipe out all doubts. Italian, Cuban andInternational cuisine. Good service. Give it a try someday. Come on, let's getchunky.

Address: Prado No 563 e/ Teniente Rey y Dragones, Old Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m to 11:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 863 2985 and 863 5999

· Luca's Bar andGrill

There's more to East Havana thanbeaches and discotheques. To prove it, here's Luca's Bar and Grill just 5minutes ride across the Havana Bay tunnel. The owners Gregorio Nunez and Idian Leon havecreated an exotic restaurant for those who look for good cuisine and excellentservice. Less than one year of operation, their dishes and desserts are backedup by a huge demand and popularity. International and Cuban menu in which themushroom risotto and the Mascarpone cheese stand out.

Address: Calle 15No 13 e/ 2da y 4ta Reparto Guiteras, East Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m to 12:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 766 2579

E-mail: [email protected]

· Al Rio – AlFiume (trattoria-ristorante)

Recently opened, June 2011 to beprecise. Located in the first floor of a building overlooking the AlmendaresRiver and the village down across. Ring the doorbell and they will welcome youwith a smile. It's a nice flat that has been readapted to a trattoria. Quietatmosphere and good service. They are aware that more work is needed in themonths to come but this is only the beginning.

Although the specialty is Italianfood, (Pastas, Raviolis, Lasagnas and Rissotto Tutto Mare) they have manyinteresting proposal regarding seafood specials : crabs, shrimps, grilled fishand seviche among others. Decent menu in which it's claimed that all productsused are 100% Italian origin. And Chefs Darien and Fernando will look afteryou. To me, an affordable yet interesting place to go for a quick lunch or amore relaxed dinner if you are into the Italian cuisine.

Address: Calle 47No 1413 e/ 14 y 18 Playa, Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m to 12:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 5 3373 4410 / + 53 5 2585455

· Punto G Mom-and-Pop restaurant

Right there on G Avenue and 17thStreet, sommelier Armando Gonzalez and Chef Eduardo Puentes have founded acafeteria restaurant that dishes out tasty food and a highly professionalcustomized service that brings the very best delight and satisfaction to all. Theystart early in the morning, that's unusual and very convenient. Menu with thetraditional Spanish Paella, seafood, meat, and … surprise: hamburgers, dude!

Address: Calle 17 No 360 e/ G y H, Vedado. Havana. From 9:00a.m. 12:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 7 832 8354

· El Mariachi.

Italian, Cuban and Mexican Food. Service betterthan average. Beans.Rice. Corn. And a lot of chili.

Address: Obrapía No 454 e/ Villegas yAguacate. Old Havana. Tel: + 53 7 8627677

· Flor de Loto (Lien Fa)

This restaurant combines the very bestof Cuban food and international cuisine giving consumers a vast assortment ofdishes and specialties to choose from. Featuring Asian décor and good service,this restaurant has been operating over the past 10 years when the restorationof the China Town started and its outcomes are well accepted both by regularsand visitors.

Address: CalleSalud No 313 e/ Gervasio y Escobar. Centro Habana. Barrio Chino.

Tel: + 53 7 8608501

· Paladar La Esperanza

Only forsuppers and is mandatory to book over the phone. What?Operating in a nice-looking beach house 25 meters away from the shoreline. Iwonder how they have managed to keep it going. A decent menu with some wines but to me rather uninspiring at the momentwith the rebirth of great paladars and the addition of some new ones. It's likeyou are on your forties and still listening to Rick Springfield, if ever did.What is wrong? More cons than pros definitely. On the long run, they shall beextinct if not moving ahead taking into account all the new boys raising thebar every single day. Got the picture?

Address: Calle 16 No 105 e/ 1stand 3rd Avenue. Miramar, Playa.

Hours: from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Closed on Sundays

Owners: Hubert and Manolo J To pledge call: + 53 7 202 4361

· La Paila

Less than a mile away from Tropicana.Still in operation but with new chefs. Not what they used to be 5 years agowhen they started off but trying hard to get the whole spirit of creativityback. Good quality. Cuban food is the reason for many to go there. Look for thespecials. Order some chickpeas with ham and vegetables to share. Hours: Onlyfrom 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Address: Calle 88 B and 51 A St. Marianao

Tel: + 53 7 267 0282 (Home) + 53 5 2855015 (mobile)

· El Palio

A link between Cuban foodand the most traditional cuisine in a seafront location, another spot in Havanawhere patrons can also enjoy Italian food if that's what they are after.

Address: Calle 24 and 1stAve. No 2402. Playa. Miramar.

Hours: from 12:00 m. to 11:00 p.m.

Tel: + 53 5 293 5842

· Nerei

For those who are in a hurry and needto grab something to keep going. Cuban food mostly.

Address: Calle 19esq. L, Vedado.Havana

Hours: from 12:00 m. to 12:00 p.m.

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Damn...that's nice. Great job Jose and thanks for sharing this invaluable dining/travel information. Now if I could only get to Cuba.

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Drive to Peason Airport (Toronto), buy ticket, enjoy! :D

That's the easy part...the hard part is the wife and kids...

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Visites several place of those mentioned by Jose' , I will check out the others next time.

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