Living in Cuba

Exploring and Living in Cuba

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Havana’s restaurants serve a variety of cuisine for all tastes and budgets. Most restaurants feature International Cuisine, Caribbean seafood, red meat and Creole dishes. However, many are high priced and geared toward the tourist trade. After you have lived in Cuba for a while you will discover many eateries on you own.

Two types of restaurants exist in Cuba. Government-operated establishments and private restaurants often in converted homes called paladares.

In the early 1990’s, in the midst of an economic crisis, the Cuban government officially legalized these privately run restaurants. The mom-and-pop eateries had humble beginnings. Now some paladares are located in stunning and restored colonial-style mansions offering foreigners more than just rice and beans. It’s a win-win. Cubans get a taste for capitalism and tourists get good eats. The most lucrative paladares are those that cater to the growing number of tourists, and this has led both to a reinvention of traditional Cuban dishes and the development of a new fusion cuisine.  

Good restaurants can be found in the majority of hotels. Try either El Barracón or La Sierra Maestra restaurant—with its spectacular view— in the Havana Libre Hotel. The Hostal Valencia hotel serves Spanish food.  Comedor del Hotel Comodoro specializes in rice dishes.

 La Bodeguita del Medio near the Cathedral, and La Cecilia, in the Miramar district, feature typical Cuban food. El Floridita, on the corner of Obispo and Monserrate in Old Havana, was a favorite of Hemingway as we mentioned. It is also famous for its seafood dishes like lobster.  Besides its drinks, Papa’s Restaurant, at the Hemingway Marina, specializes in seafood dishes guaranteed to satiate your pallet. El Pavo Real (peacock), in Miramar, has the reputation of being Havana’s best Chinese Restaurant. The Roof Garden Restaurant atop the Hotel Sevilla is considered one of Havana's best. La Paella, in the Hostal Valencia, offers excellent Spanish food and a relaxed, intimate and charming ambience.

The best spot for Italian food is La Piazza. Don Cangrejo is known for its seafood. Vegetarians can find their fare in Havana at: Restaurante Biki and Restaurante El Carmelo in Vedado.

 Barrio Chino in Central Havana has a number of restaurants serving oriental cuisine. It consists of is a block and a half of restaurants, most of which have colourful Chinese decorated facades.

 There are several restaurants serving different international dishes. El Patio, in Old Havana on the Plaza de la Catedral, is worth trying. It is open 24 hours and its prices for some dishes are high. Las Ruinas, in Lenin Park, is considered Havana’s most exclusive restaurant. It is set in the ruins of an old sugar mill and the ambience is special. The 1830 Restaurant also specializes in international dishes and is set in an elegant bay-side mansion on the sea-side Malecón. El Cochinito has criollo food. La Torre, at the top of the Focsa building in Vedado, serves French cusine and offers a breath-taking, panoramic view of the city and bay.

Also in Vedado, El Litoral, Café Preidentes and The Old Gringo all offer exceptional food. The author can vouch for it.

Retiress and expats on a budget should check out:

Recently many new restaurants have opened in Havana. Here are more resources:


Official Guide to
Cuban Spanish

Official Guide to Cuban Spanish

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Information herein is authorized through the courtesy of Christopher Howard, author of the best selling Cuba information source, Living and Investing in the New Cuba. Please be aware that all information herein is protected by COPYRIGHT © and misuse of it will carry a penalty by law.