Eating in Havana: is there a problem?
Only a few years ago it was all rice, pork, beans and bad press. Now your Guardian or Sunday Times are fan-faring Havana’s top 10 restaurants and interviewing its three hottest chefs. So what can you expect?
Come with an open mind but not, yet, with Great Expectations. Havana can’t be London or New York: there simply aren’t the raw materials. Good butter, cheese, cream and high-quality meat are not always available, neither is there easy access to YouTube recipes nor the latest cook books. But despite these challenges you can eat very well if you know where to go on your Cuba holiday.
MY TOP 5 MID-TOP HAVANA RESTAURANTS
Here are my 5 favourite middle/top range restaurants (cheapest first); a mix of international/traditional Cuban dishes.
Older-style décor, professional service. Try the tasty, traditional-Cuban, shredded beef (ropa vieja) or (cheaper) soup and tuna tart.
Calle Linea #753, btw Paseo & 2, Vedado, Havana. Tel: 78322444. *(30 cucs).
Informal, relaxed, Scicilian-run. Try the home-made ravioli and simple, delicious fish (red snapper). Best on pretty, upstairs terrace.
Calle 13 #406, btw F & G, Vedado, Havana. Tel: 78324894. *(35 cucs).
LA COCINA DE LILLIAM:
Beautiful, outdoor garden. Anything is good but their ropa vieja, grilled lobster and ginger ice-cream are excellent.
Calle 48 #1311, btw 13 & 15, Miramar, Havana. Tel: 7209-6514. *(40 cucs).
Romantic, chic minimalism & great, experimental chef. Try the beef carpaccio with guava/parmisan dressing, lamb with honey, followed by stellar rice pudding with spices.
Ave 35 #1810, btw Calle 20 & 41, Miramar. Tel: 72038315. *(45 cucs).
Bohemian- chic, more pricey, but still No. 1 for many. Anything is memorable but their watermelon soup and seared tuna are winners. Don’t miss the spectacular view from upstairs bar.
Calle Concordia #418, btw Gervasio & Escobar, Central Havana. Tel: 7866-9047. *(50 cucs).
(*Approximate price for 2: main course/glass of wine/coffee).