Delicious Dining in Havana


Cuba is one of the Caribbean´s most popular countries with visitors because of its paradisiacal beaches, lovely landscapes, handsome architecture, compelling history, its infectious music, and its tasty cuisine. In capital Havana, all of this is distilled into a marvelous must-visit – and of course this is where you´ll find the most and best restaurants and cafés in the entire country.

Typical Cuban Dishes

Ropa Vieja

One of the most classic island dishes of all, “old clothes” originated in Spain (some say in the Canary Islands), and it´s made up of shredded beef, peppers, onions, and garlic served in a very light tomato sauce.

Rice Dishes 

White rice tends to accompany most Cuban dishes, since it´s cheap, filling, and relatively easy to prepare. In addition, it plays a central role in a number of them, like arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), a moist mix of chicken thighs with rice (often yellow), chicken broth, sofrito (a vegetable past of green peppers, onion, and garlic), a touch of tomato sauce, and various spices. A soupier variation on this is arroz con pollo a la chorrera, which adds several swigs of beer or wine. Another popular moist (not soupy) rice dish is arroz congrí, which mixes it with black beans; congrí is also popularly known as moros y cristianos (Moors and Christians) because it mixes black and white.

Yuca (Cassava)

Originally from South America, this starchy, elongated tuber is popular as yuca frita (fried chips-style) or yuca con mojo (boiled till tender and drizzled with mojo criollo, a savoury marinade made with olive oil, sour oranges, and spices (including plenty of garlic).

Tasajo Cubano

This dried, cured beef in a criollo sauce of tomatoes, green peppers, and onions is not unlike ropa vieja, but a bit saltier and more savoury.

Lechón Asado (Roast Pork)

Pork shoulder marinated in mojo criollo – the juicy meat contrasting with the crispy skin – is a speciality during the Christmas season but can also be eaten year round.

Pastel de Guayaba (Guava Pastry)

For a dessert classic, these puff-pastry squares filled with guava jam are a sweet bit of tropical heaven; another tasty variation is pastel de guayaba y queso (cheese, meaning cream cheese).



Top Havana Restaurants in Which to Enjoy All This

In recent years, the culinary landscape in Cuba and especially Havana has evolved enormously since the days of mediocre, indifferent state-run restaurants. First, in the mid-1990s came the paladares, which were eateries – sometimes quite simple, but still better quality – run out of people´s homes. As the years went by, some paladares became increasingly elaborate, and then were eventually joined by restaurants whose quality and ambiance match and in a few cases outstrip what you might find in Miami or Madrid.  Some top recommendations in Old Havana include Habana 61 (especially great for seafood, near the Museum of the Revolution), Doña Eutimia (homely Cuban fare right near the cathedral), La Esquina de Cuba (ditto), Donde Lis (which besides Cuban also serves Italian and other international fare), Mojito-Mojito (Cuban fare and of course cocktails near another popular square, Plaza Vieja), and El del Frente (hip, relaxed vibe, good food, and a beautiful rooftop terrace).

Other recommendable options outside Old Havana include, in the gritty Centro Habana neighbourhood, San Cristóbal (adorned with memorabilia from the 1950s and not to be confused with the more upmarket San Cristóbal Panoramic Restaurant on the rooftop of the luxury Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski hotel) and the reknowned La Guarida (which was one of the first paladares, beginning in 1996 with 12 seats, and today is quite a bit larger and fancier, with two floors of dining plus a third with a rooftop bar). Or bit farther out still, in El Vedado, check out Razones, on the second storey of a townhouse.