The Best Cultural Restaurants in Old Havana

Best paladares in Havana
Best paladares in Havana | | © Star5112/Flickr
For foodies, eating in Havana is an experience like no other. It used to be illegal to own a restaurant in communist Cuba, but in the 1990s the government made a small exception by allowing Cubans to sell food from their own homes. In Cuba, these home-based restaurants are called paladares. The following three paladares are pushing the boundaries of Cuba’s food culture, by giving home-cooked meals a gourmet spin.

La Guarida

Restaurant, Restaurant with Rooms, Cuban, $$$
Paladares have popped up throughout Old Town Havana
Paladares have popped up throughout Old Town Havana | | © Graham Campbell/Flickr

What makes the paladar movement so unique is that literally every meal you buy is an authentic, home-cooked meal. When you enter La Guarida you’ll find rows of restaurant tables in a large living room. They call themselves the most elegant paladar in Havana, and their gourmet Cuban dishes will not disappoint. This paladar was also a location in the Oscar-nominated Cuban film Fesa y Chocolate.

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Restaurant, Restaurant with Rooms, Contemporary, Cuban
Atelier Restaurante, La Habana
Atelier Restaurante, La Habana

Atelier is a cozy paladar only two blocks away from the Malecon. The menu is designed by internationally-trained Cuban chef Michael Calvo, who cooked for U.S. President Obama during his visit to Cuba. Due to the fluctuation in food imports, Calvo changes the restaurant’s menu daily based on the ingredients available to him.

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Otra Manera

Restaurant with Rooms, Cuban
A traditional Cuban Mojito
A traditional Cuban Mojito | © FollowTheseInstructions/Flickr

Otra Manera is another paladar that is pushing the limits of fine dining in Cuba. The home is set up with clean, modern décor, and the restaurant’s menu changes seasonally based on the freshest ingredients. The majority of dishes are seafood-based, but there are chicken, beef, and vegetarian options as well. Don’t forget to start with fried plantains, and add a mojito for the perfect Cuban dining experience.

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