Havana’s restaurant scene moves in three dimensions: style, size and quality – and all are constant in flux, cooking up exciting new alternatives, making Havana’s restaurants a reflection of the broader unleashing of Cuba’s once dormant commercial energies.
In Cuba, private restaurants, called paladares (pl) or paladar, are where much of the innovation is happening. Reservations are almost always required for dinner and lunch can fill up fast.
Paladar Los Mercaderes
Despite the increase in tourist traffic to Old Havana, the area retains a lot of charm. The Cuba Journal had lunch at Paladar Los Mercaderes with the entrepreneur/owner Yamil Alvares Torres and learned about his dream to transform his house into a top notch private restaurant. The food was amazing and the service was the best we have experienced in Cuba. The menu is traditional Cuban. The hot sauce (or salsa) made in the kitchen was mesmerizing – it’s not too hot and it has a special quality of being good on everything. Make a reservation at (+53) 7 801-2437 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Address: 207 Mercaderes, Old Havana
Don’t let the handwritten menus at El Atelier put you off. It’s the way owner Niuris Higueras keeps food and her eclectic cuisine fresh. The restaurant is located in a balconied mansion in the Vedado section of Havana. Try the filet mignon or the lobster. You can also sample Cuban rabbit if the spirit moves you. Make a reservation at (+53) 7 836 2025. Address: Calle 5ta e/ Paseo y 2, Vedado
Opened in 1996, La Gaurida was named by the Cuba Journal as the best restaurant in all of Cuba in 2016. It’s an institution. The restaurant has been the backdrop for several films and is known to host most of Havana’s visiting celebrities. We recommend making a reservation at (+53) 7 866 9047 – booking online works too if you do so at least 24 hours in advance. Address: 418 Concordia
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