By Alexander Britell
HAVANA — The food scene in Havana has changed significantly in recent years. As in, now, there is a food scene. Or a nascent one, at least.
With the birth of the paladar, or privately-owned restaurant, several years ago, there are more and more ways to find high-quality food in Cuba.
And yes, that means everything from sushi to ceviche.
But is sushi the reason to come to Havana? Or is it something a bit more authentic?
That brings us to Doña Carmela, a paladar on the outskirts of the capital that may just be the best paladar in Havana.
The first thing you notice here, other than the stucco walls and the sound of the son band, is the picture of Beyonce.
Yes, the superstar singer visited here during her high-profile visit in 2013, and her photo now adorns the entrance. It meant a signifiant boost for the restaurant, but also a stamp of approval.
But the cuisine here, by Havana standards, is superstar worthy.
Meticulously boiled yucca; succulent, tangy masa de cerdo (pork); quintessential black beans (sleeping beans, as they’re called in Cuba); delectable chicken grilled in a brick oven.
That along with all the Ron Santiago de Cuba 11 Años you’ll need and, yes, a superb live band serenading you with Cuban classics and the hits of the Buena Vista Social Club, served in a leafy, relaxing setting that’s everything you’d imagine in a great Havana restaurant.
This is Doña Carmela, and it is the best paladar in Havana. Location: near the Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña