Havana Restaurants and Dining

(Havana, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba)

Although this is the Cuban capital city, the dining in Havana is generally as bland and unadventurous as that of the rest of the nation. The government runs the show, controlling all restaurants and the type of food that is allowed to be served elsewhere.

There are some alternatives to Havana's main government-run eateries, namely the small family run restaurants known as 'paladares'. These offer cheaper, somewhat more adventurous dining, although are officially not allowed to serve beef or prawns. The best eating in Havana is to be found within the Centro and Vedado areas.

What to Eat, and Where

If you go to Havana not expecting good dining and choice, you will probably have a better time in the eating department. It is certainly no France or Italy, with rice and beans as the staple and a very poor offering of restaurants in general.

The only time you can eat Cuba's tasty lobster is at the government-run restaurants, and the price at these places is high, relatively. You will also be able to order beef at these dining establishments, whereas the family-owned paladares in Havana are not able to serve it.

It is easy to spot paladares, since they are traditionally in the family home, are small and staffed by the family only, and are cheap. Unfortunately, paladares are generally only on side streets, with the government restaurants occupying the best, touristy spots, such as around the main squares.

Look to Centro and Old Havana for some of the best in fine dining. El Malecon is good for eating seafood while overlooking the promenade, but expect to dig deep for the convenient location and views. The districts of Miramar, Playa, and Vedado are also quite reliable, yet you may often find the best food by simply eating in your hotel.

For a taste of Cuba, try some traditional Creole cuisine. This is a blend of Spanish and African styles and offers tasty dishes if you manage to pick the right place.