Prior to arriving in Cuba I kept hearing that the food ranged from bland to bad. And that is exactly how I would describe some of the food we had while visiting, but the good news is there are some really good restaurants. Rather than focusing on the disappointing meals, I thought I’d highlight two of my favorite.
The day we spent walking through Old Havana we had lunch at Paladar Dona Eutimia. The tiny hole-in-a-wall restaurant with a tiny patio in the front had a bit of a wait when we arrived so we gave our names to the host and walked to El Patio Restaurante, (which I would recommend for drinks). After having a cocktail followed by complimentary shots of Cuban rum at El Patio, we were more than ready for lunch. The good news is that the handsome host / manager took a liking to our table and ended up waiting on us. After he heard our American accents and friendly demeanor more rum seemed to materialize. While I’ll admit I had a good rum buzz, I can assure you the food was as delicious as it was affordable. The majority of appetizers range in price from $2 – $4 and main plates range from $7 – $12.
Unfortunately my ‘rum buzz’ meant that I was too stimulated to remember to take photographs of our meal. Although as you can see at the start (before all that rum) I remembered to take a picture of the menu (see above). The food was fairly simple – think of it as ‘home style Cuban’ – but it was delicious. I ended up ordering the Suprema de Pollo Grille (grilled chicken breast) for $7.00. All meals came with large bowls of rice, beans and fried plantains. Needless to say we all left very satisfied.
By contrast, the next meal I would like to share was much more chic. El Cocinero is located in the Vedado neighborhood and occupies space that was formerly a vegetable oil factory. They have a beautiful outdoor dining room patio on the second floor as well as a small indoor dining room that has an urban vibe. If you climb to the top of the building’s roof deck, you can get food (although it is not the full dining room menu) and drinks under the night sky in Havana. The night we were there the roof deck was full of foreigners and well-heeled Cubans sipping cocktails, enjoying their food and listening to a great DJ. I didn’t take notes on the price of the plates we ordered but dinner which included starters, main dishes, dessert and (lots of) cocktails came out to $30 per person.
Blog posts from this series:
Post 1: An American in Havana
Post 2: An American in Havana: The Cuban people
Post 3: An American in Havana: The architecture
Post 4: An American in Havana: Old Havana
Post 5: An American in Havana: The food
Post 6: An American in Havana: The cars