The Best Restaurants in Havana, Cuba

Dig into Havanas exciting gastronomy and learn all about the exceptionally flavorsome Cuban cuisine
Dig into Havana's exciting gastronomy and learn all about the exceptionally flavorsome Cuban cuisine | © Woodys Photos / Alamy Stock Photo
Christopher P. Baker

After a day exploring the winding streets of Havana, you’ll want something to eat. From budget bodegones to sensational sushi restaurants, a gastro-revolution has turned the city into Cuba’s sizzling hot capital of epicurean cool. Where a decade ago the dining in Havana was considered “blah”, the culinary scene today offers a magical mystery tour for foodie mavens. Tried-and-true classics, such as ropa vieja are still to be savored, however, an explosion of paladares and culinary innovation has infused menus with new globe-spanning ingredients and flavors. Here’s our pick of the best restaurants in Havana, Cuba. Buen provecho!

Explore foodie hotspots beyond Havana by renting a yacht with SamBoat and exploring the Cuban coastline.

1. El del Frente

Restaurant, Snacks

Terrace of the trendy bar El del Frente in Havana, Cuba
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

You’ll need to reserve well ahead for a table at this hip and always jammed spot on one of the busiest streets in Habana Vieja. Choose the retro-themed open-air rooftop terrace, where the bar’s mixologists conjure killer fruit-flavored daiquiris, mojitos and gin-based cocktails. The menu favors light fare – including some of the best ceviche in town. Alternatively, take a cue from the regulars and tuck into zingy tuna tataki or a flight of equally zesty tacos.

2. Mama Inés

Restaurant, Cuban

When only the most succulent ropa vieja will do, this intimate colonial-themed restaurant off Calle Oficios can’t be beaten. Owner Tomás Erasmo was once private chef to gourmanden-jefe Fidel. After throwing his toque into the private arena, he staffed Mama Inés with a professional A-list. The menu sticks to usually impeccably executed Cuban fare, served with heapings of white rice, black beans and garlicky yucca. Erasmo has his off nights but he always appears out front to check on diners.

3. Azúcar Lounge and Bar

Restaurant, Fusion, Pub Grub, Cuban

The #instaready panoramic view over Plaza Vieja would be reason enough to munch at Azúcar – but there’s the chic Miami vibe of this second-floor, high-ceilinged colonial manse turned lounge-bar-restaurant. It’s a perfect marriage of avant-garde décor, cool mood music and shuttered floor-to-ceiling French windows thrown open to the finest square in Havana. Ceviche, falafels and eclectic tapas highlight its light fare menu, best washed down with a frozen mint lemonade or signature maracuya daiquiri. Plus, the divine cappuccinos couldn’t be better.

4. La Chuchería

Restaurant, Fast Food, Cuban, American, Mediterranean

When a craving for pizza hits, make a beeline for this small Miami-styled restaurant – perched on a shaded oceanfront patio overlooking the Malecón. Cubans love pizza but aren’t particularly good at making it. La Chuchería breaks the mold with its delicious yet ludicrously cheap thin-crust doughs and create-your-own toppings to rival Chicago’s finest. On top of this, the ice cream batidos are to die for. Get here before 8pm on weekends to avoid a long wait in line.

5. El Aljibe

Restaurant, Cuban

This large open-air, state-owned restaurant has stayed true to its roots for six decades. It still draws in locals and tour groups for bargain-priced, all-you-can-eat helpings of pollo asado with rice, black beans, fried plantain and fries. Pull up a hefty leather-backed wooden chair and settle beneath the thatch to be serenaded by roving musicians while you eat. Anthony Bourdain raved about it in his TV series, No Reservations. Yep, it’s that good.

6. Casa Miglis

Cafe, Restaurant, Swedish

The restaurant of Casa Miglis in Havana, Cuba
© Paul Thompson Live News / Alamy Stock Photo
It’s pan-global food with a distinctly Cuban twist at this chicly gentrified townhouse restaurant in rubble-strewn Centro Habana. Owner and Swedish film producer, Michel Miglis, has spiced up the all-white colonial décor with hip neon lighting. Not sure what to order? Start with fiery Cuban chicken nuggets, then tuck into Grandma’s Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberries – or the closest available equivalent.

7. Otramanera

Restaurant with Rooms, Cuban

In a city that no longer lacks chic restaurants, this suave paladar in a fancy 1950s home in Miramar exudes über sophistication. Don your best duds for a romantic date amid a minimalist candlelit setting that opens to an outdoor garden. The innovative farm-to-table menu marries Cuban and Spanish flavors – including tantalizing pork ribs in honey with grilled pineapple in a sweet and sour sauce. Spanish co-owner and professional sommelier, Álvaro Diez Fernández, prides himself on his wine list.

8. Ríomar

Restaurant, Fusion, Cuban

For top-ranked seafood beside the sea – in this case, the mouth of the Río Almendares – Ríomar is numero uno. It ticks off all the boxes. A fabulous raised waterfront terrace with panoramic views compliments the stylishly minimalist interior décor – if the deck gets too chilly in winter. Plus fab fare fresh from the briny includes swordfish ceviche topped by a thin layer of guacamole and a grilled combo of octopus atop mahi-mahi.

9. La Guarida

Restaurant, Restaurant with Rooms, Cuban

La Guarida, the most famous Palador in Cuba in Centro Habana, Havana
© Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Long the reigning paladar in town, La Guarida is the de rigueur fuel stop for every international celebrity passing through Havana. Chalk it up to its shabby-chic setting on two levels of the dramatically dilapidated townhouse locale for Cuba’s Oscar-nominated Strawberry and Chocolate (1993). You’ll dine amid real décor from the movie, plus a Louvre-worthy collection of Cuban contemporary art. Trademark garlic roast chicken in orange sauce highlights its Cuban-fusion cuisine. No reservation? No chance.

10. La Corte del Principe

Restaurant, Cuban

With its tucked-away position in Miramar – far from the tourist zone – this helps to keep this no-frills alfresco restaurant and off-the-beaten-track gem under wraps. And continuously adored by ex-pats. Unassuming Italian owner, Sergio, conjures up the most authentic fare from his homeland. The unpredictable daily menu might include beef carpaccio drizzled with olive oil and mozzarella and sublime tagliatelle ai funghi porcini. With red-and-white-checked tablecloths and simple wood furnishings, Sergio’s evokes a slice of Italia transplanted. Just don’t ask for pizza.

This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Danai Molocha.

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