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.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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.
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 gourmand–en-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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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