Music & Nightlife
What Cuba does best is live music, so you should definitely experience Havana's thriving and plentiful live music scene. Rock, salsa, son, jazz, house, disco, afro-cuban, classical -- it's all available to be seen and heard when night falls on Havana.
As clubs tend to come and go (and come in and out of vogue), it's best that you pick up at copy of Cartelera, a free weekly newspaper available around town and at the larger hotels. Besides listing some of Havana's mainstays, they also list some of the more interesting venues frequented by Habaneros.
Before or after a night of clubbing, indulge in one of the many restaurants listed below. Some are in hotels, some atop buildings overlooking the Caribbean, and others are paladars (paladars are licensed, privately-run restaurants in homes -- the food can be outstanding, and prices extremely modest). With a little guidance, you'll experience some of the most interesting and delicious restaurants in the Caribbean.
HAVANA NIGHTCLUBS & MUSIC | HAVANA RESTAURANTS | VARADERO
PINAR DEL RIO | VILLA CLARA | CIENFUEGOS | SANCTI SPIRITUS | CIEGO DE AVILA
CAMAGUEY | LAS TUNAS | HOLGUIN | GRANMA | SANTIAGO DE CUBA
GUANTANAMO | ISLA DE LA JUVENTUD
1830 Club, Malecon & 20th, in the Vedado (near the tunnel to Miramar). Check for times and performances.
Ambos Mundos, Obispo 153, esquina Monserrate, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 66 9530, +53 7 33 9532. Refurbished in line with the 30s and 40s style, Ambos Mundos is one of the most elegant cafés in Havana. The music from the piano, the marble walls and floor and the façade make this place quiet, intimate and relaxed. As well as a wide range of cocktails, either at the bar or at a table, Ambos Mundos offers spirits, beers, light meals and traditional Cuban cooking. The candlelight makes this café ideal for a bit of romance, especially at night. It being one of the places Hemingway visited in the 30s, during his first visit to Cuba, it became a meeting place for writers and artists. (see picture to left)
Bar Nautilius, San Rafael e/ Consulado y Paseo del Prado, Centro Habana. Although this local hangout is rather dark and suspicious looking, it's nicely un-touristy and right next to the chic Inglaterra Hotel.
Cabaret Atlántico, at the Hotel Atlántico, in Playa Santa María del Mar.
Cabaret El Nacional, Calle San Rafael esq Paseo del Prado. Habana Vieja.
Cabaret Parisién, at the Hotel Nacional, in the Vedado.
Cabaret Turquino, at the Hotel Habana Libre Tryp.
Cafe Cantante Mi Habana, Teatro Nacional de Cuba Paseo y 39 Plaza de la Revolución (tel 33 57 13). One of the most popular places at the moment, this tiny basement venue gets very crowded very early, so come early on weekends. Top artists generally headline, so check the Cartelera for performances and times. Popular among both Cubans and tourists.
Cafe Concert Gato Tuerto, Calle O entre 17 y 19, Vedado
Casa de Amistad, Paseo no. 406 esq. 17 Vedado (tel 30 31 14). Live salsa, son and boleros in the gardens of a beautiful Rococo house. Closed Mon.
Cafe de Paris, San Ignacio esq Obispo, La Habana Vieja, La Habana. Crowded with a nice mix of both tourists and locals, the drunken atmosphere is further enhanced by live bands. In a small space there are tables for two and for four, tucked close together, and a Cuban music band in the background, forcing you to speak fairly loudly if you want to be heard. It is one of the liveliest night places in Havana, offering a wide range of light meals to go with the cocktails, spirits and beers.
Casa de la Cultura, Aguiar no.509 e/ Amargura y Brasil, Habana Vieja (tel 63 48 60). What used to be a converted convent, the renovated Casa de la Culture features a full range of evening performances, from folk to hip hop.
Casa de la Musica EGREM (Empresa de Brabaciones y Ediciones Musicales), Calle 20 esquina 35, Playa
Cafe del Oriente, Oficios 112 esquina Amargura, Plaza de San Francisco de Asís La Habana, 10100. Café del Oriente is possibly the most elegant one in Havana. Situated on one side of Plaza de San Francisco, it inspires a feeling of peace, as well as it surroundings. In this vast space which still keeps the architectural features of an Old Havana house, you may try a wide range of strong beverages, cocktails, coffees, Havana cigars and light meals. Disabled access is available.
La Cecilia, 5ta Avenida y 110. Tel: 24-1562. In the Miramar district, La Cecilia is a large outdoor venue featuring prominent salsa stars, big bands and dance performances. Excellent sound system, and a well-mixed crowd.
Club Almendares, Reparto Kohly.Río Almendares
Club Imagenes, Calzada 602, esquina C, Vedado, La Habana. This café bar is located in the El Vedado neighborhood of Havana. The décor is pleasant and inviting and the ambience is relaxed and intimate. It is and ideal place for couples or groups of friends who would like to spend the night listening to traditional songs interpreted by Pedro Luis Guerra, one of the most popular Cuban singer/songwriters who can be seen and heard here every weekend.
Delirio Habanero Piano Bar, Teatro Nacional de Cuba Paseo y 39 de la Revolución (tel 33 57 13). This sultry, vibey late-night jazz hangout is popular with Cuban sophisticates and visitors alike, with low-key piano music and live jazz bands nightly. Reservations are a must on weekends. Bands play from 10.30pm and 3am though they stay open till 6am when the crowd doesn't want the night to end. Their à la carte menu offers light meals, soft drinks, rums and cocktails, both national and international. The panoramic view of the city, particularly of the Plaza de la Revolution, is truly breathtaking.
Disco Bar, at the Villa Panámericana.
Disco Cónuco, at the Villa Trópico, in Playa Jibacoa.
Disco Galicia, Agramonte no.658 e/ Apodaca y Gloria. Disco-bar at the top of a well-worn neo-colonial building. A largely local and friendly crowd.
Disco Guanabo Club, Calle 468 e/ 13 y 15, in Guanabo.
Disco Havana Club, at the Hotel Comodoro, Calle 86 y 1a, Miramar. Havana Club is the most famous discotheque in the city, where good taste and amazing lighting come together to offer an excellent place to come and dance, or simply breathe in the atmosphere. They offer a wide range of national and international drinks, as well as light meals.
Disco Ipanema, at the Hotel Copacabana.
Disco Papa's, at the Residencial Marina Hemingway.
Disco El Salado, Villa El Salado, in Playa Baracoa.
Disco La Sirenita, at the Residencial Tarara, in Playa del Este.
Don Pedro, at the Restaurante D'Giovanni - Tacón 4, esquina Empedrado, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 33 5979. In the patio of a Colonial house, Don Pedro is a spacious and comfortable bar. Plants, trees and ivy make up most of its decoration. From the ceiling, hang several bird-cages with Cuban bird species inside. The tables are always decorated with fresh flowers. It doesn't tend to be too crowded and the atmosphere is always peaceful and relaxed.
Dos Gardenias, Avenida 7 esquina Calle 26, Miramar, La Habana. This is the ideal place for bolero lovers. This musical style was very popular in Latin América in the 1940s and is now experiencing a revival. This revival has made Bolero very fashionable in Europe, and it has a lot to do with the success of the film Buena Vista Social Club. Here you will have the chance to enjoy this rhythmical and romantic music played by traditional bands. At midnight they have the Salón del Bolero, where you will be able to join the musicians and spend the rest of the night singing boleros.
El Cortijo, Hotel Horizontes Vedado, Calle O No. 244, entre 25 y Humboldt, Vedado
El Patio, 17 esquina M, Fosca, Vedado, La Habana. +53 7 32 9571 ext. 37. This piano-bar is an open air venue decorated in rustic style, with parasols, unfinished wood bar and (parabanes) made of guano. In the evenings they run a show featuring the house band "Los Zafiros", which is a group of young singers who sing in the same style of a famous Cuban band of the 60s with the same name. The cafeteria has a bar and stools, it has air conditioning and backgroung music (not live). There are some tables behing the bar. In the evenings the cafeteria is as busy as the piano bar, but during the day they have plenty of space.
El Patio de María, Calle 37 e/ Paseo y 2, Nuevo Vedado, La Habana, 10600, +53 7 81 0722. El Patio de María is specialised in carrying out social and cultural projects. Just 100 metres away from the Teatro Nacional de Cuba, this place hosts all sorts of social and community events such as club meetings, different sorts of debates, concerts and workshops. There is something for everyone, whatever your tastes and interests, from theatre to video. Among their activities, there is a rock music project as part of an AIDS prevention programme. Their most important events are the rock festivals, performance festivals and the events which take place on International AIDS day. The most popular club is "El Fandango del Candil" which meets up every last Friday of each month, where Jorge García brings poetry and story-telling together.
El Portal, at the Restaurante El Patio, San Ignacio 54 esquina Empedrado, Plaza de la Catedral, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 57 1035, +53 7 33 8697. Occupying a large space of the Cathedral Square, with its tables and sunshades, this bar has become one of the most popular open-air spaces where the clients dance to the sound of live Cuban music. The party atmosphere does not only extend to the dancing area, but also to the tables and the surrounding area, where many passers-by stop to sing and clap to the sound of the music. Besides a wide range of cocktails, beers and spirits, this bar offers light meals and wonderful views of the Cathedral Square, one of the oldest in Havana.
Feria de Fornos, Monserrate, esquina Obrapía, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 57 1030, +53 7 33 8694. On a corner which brings tourist Havana and everyday Havana together, with people going back and forth, this bar has almost made a virtue out of its limited space. Opening out onto the street, it offers seats inside and outside. The bar with its stools, the bare stone walls and the sunshade make up the atmosphere of this bar which offers spirits, cocktails and beers. You simply must try the sandwiches in this place -probably what has made it famous all over the Havana. (see picture)
Gato Tuerto (One-Eyed Cat), Calle O e/ 17 y 15, Vedado (tel 55 26 96). Just a few metres away from the splendid Hotel Nacional, Gato Tuerto is a recently renovated, pre-revolution bohemian jazz bar that has managed to keep its cool edge despite a complete renovation. Good food, rum and cocktails. Excellent jazz fusion is played nightly from 12pm to 4am. (see picture to left)
Gran Teatro, Paseo del Prado esq. San Rafael, Centro Habana (tel 62 94 73). This gorgeously restored building on the Parque Central is home to Cuban ballet but also hosts operas and works of contemporary dance. Check the Cartelera for a listing of performances. US$10.
Habana Cafe, Hotel Meliá Cohiba, Paseo y Malecón (tel 33 36 36). If you're really into places like the Hardrock Cafe and Planet Hollywood, you'll love the Habana Cafe. Rather cheesy, it's decorated with classic Chevrolets and retro Cuban photographs. The evening begins with popular Cuban music played by the best orchestra of the moment, and it ends with the audience joining in the fun, singing and dancing the night away to the rhythm of Caribbean tunes.
Havana Club, Calle 86 y 1ra Miramar Playa (tel 24 29 02). One of the most upscale discos in Havana where salsa tunes are played along side trendy house music. Open from 11pm to 5am.
Ipanema, Avenida 1 esquina Calle 44, Miramar, La Habana. Located in the Copacabana Hotel, this venue is very popular with both Cubans and tourists. It is quite a spacious place, ideal for dancing evenings where hundreds of fun-seekers congregate to drink, dance and enjoy the excellent views of the sea. $10 cover charge.
Isamán, Ave del Puerto e/ Oficios y Empedrado, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100. Outdoors with a view of the Cabaña, the Cristo de la Bahía and
Casablanca, is where you come across this place located on the sidewalk of the Malecon in front of the Castillo de la Real Fuerza. Drinks are served immediately, but you have to wait a bit for the chicken to be fried. The awnings each span three tables but at some times in the day you aren't completely covered from the sun and the wind is usually strong, but if you want to be very close to the bay, this is the ideal place.
Jazz Cafe, Malecon & Paseo, on 3rd floor. Great late-night jazz haunt.
Karachi, Calle 17 esq. K Vedado La Habana. This is a place to have a truly enjoyable experience, while you savor a nice long drink and enjoy musical performances and comedy shows. Here you can see some of the best Cuban
singers, from the evening until the early hours of the morning. On Sundays it opens earlier (at two o'clock in the afternoon), and stays open until around eight in the evening, with DJ Viti and guests offering disco and techno music for all you party animals out there.
La Lluvia de Oro, Obispo esq. Habana. When live bands play at the Lluvia, this can be one of the most lively bars in Habana Vieja. This Café-Bar is one of the most spacious in the Bulevar de Obispo. The table arrangements (tables for six or more) seem to suggest it's a good idea to go in a group. However, if one happens to be alone, there is always the bar and entry, where it is also possible to have spirits, cocktails, beers and light meals. A Cuban Band plays traditional music (son, guaracha, bolero) in the evenings. Although it is a large space, at night it is usually full of people socializing, dancing and partying.
La Maisón, on Calle 7ma esqm 16, in Miramar.
La Pampa, Parque Maceo, Centro Habana. La Pampa is unique in that they predominantly feature both swing and hip hop acts. This club is frequented by a hip crowd.
La Red, Calle 19 e/ K y L Vedado, La Habana. Once you walk in the door, you are unlikely to leave this place for a long, long time... The best Cuban musicians and comedians can be seen live here, in a busy and fun atmosphere. There is a bar and a billiards table. On Saturday from 2 to 8, and for the price of just 1 US$, you can enjoy the excellent techno rhythms played by DJ Joy.
La Zorra y El Cuervo (The Fox and the Crow), Calle 23 No. 155 e/ N y O Vedado (tel 55 26 96). A hip, taste maker venue that puts on quality live Latin jazz nightly. Doors open at 9pm nightly, but really gets going at 11pm. Enjoy the best Latin jazz, played by incredible musicians.
Las Bulerías Bar, L entre 23 y 25, Vedado, La Habana, 10400, +53 7 32 3283. This is an open air café with a somewhat limited menu, but the service is very efficient and it's very close to L and 23, one of the main corners of El Vedado. It only has four or five tables, some at ground level and some others at pavement level. The latter ones offer a view of the street and the Habana Libre Hotel. (see picture to the left)
Le Select, Calle 28, entre 5ta Ave. y 7ma Ave., Miramar, Playa.
Monserrate, esquina Obrapía, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 66 9751, +53 7 33 8694. The definite 40s atmosphere is the main attraction of this bar: swaying doors, lots of wood and a bar all along the back of the lounge. It offers beers, pizzas, Cuban and imported cocktails, and the Monserrate drink, made with Cuban rum and grapefruit juice. Also known as the Casa del Saladito, this bar tends to have live Cuban music, which gives it a nostalgic feel and party
atmosphere at the same time (see picture).
Palacio de la Salsa, at the Hotel Riviera, in the Vedado. Check Cartelera for performance schedules.
Paraitos de Prado, de Martí (Prado) e/ Dragones y Brasil (Teniente Rey), La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100. This place offers the services of an cafeteria, an ice cream shop and a small restaurant. It opened recently and is located in a well-conserved colonial building noted for its architectural value and its wooden roof. The patio outside has a really nice atmosphere although it is on a busy street with quite a bit of traffic. In contrast with other places which sell dollars, the plants in its jardinères aren't very beautiful. It is a popular place due to the fact that it's located in front of the Capitolio Nacional.
Parisien, at the Hotel Nacional, Wednesday - Friday, 9p to 2:30am.
Rincón del Bolero, Calle 7ma esq 26, in Miramar.
Salón Rojo, at the Hotel Capri.
Scherezada, Calle M e/ 19 y 17 Edificio Focsa, Vedado La Habana. Down one side of the quiet Hotel Victoria, you will find Scherezada, a place for those who enjoy the good things in life. The latest and most popular Cuban music can be heard here, while you enjoy the excellent food and drink on offer. Cabaret and comedy performances. Cocktail service.
Teatro America, Ave. de Italia no.253 e/ Concordia y Neptuno, Centro Habana (tel 62 54 16). This small but respected theater features comedy, live jazz and traditional music performances.
Teatro Karl Marx, Calle 1ra e/ 8 y 10 Miramar. (tel 30 07 20). An impressively diverse offering of music and dramatic arts, including rock concerts and theater. Definitely worth checking Cartelera to see what's scheduled.
Teatro Nacional de Cuba, Calle Paseo y 39 Plaza de la Revolución (tel 79 60 11). Havana's biggest theater puts on some of the finest events throughout the year, as well as hosts international festivals, ranging from ballet to jazz.
La Tropical, located in the Playa.
Tropicana, Calle 72 no. 504 Mariano. Possibly the oldest and most lavish cabaret in the world, the spectacularly colorful Tropicana features more than 200 dancers, musicians and vocalists (with an emphasis on beautiful, scantily-clad cubanas). Inaugurated in 1939, the Tropicana has an atmosphere of the 1950s with an exclusively Cuban touch. Pricey: $70/person -- make a reservation. Starts at 8.30pm with the show from 10pm to 11pm. Closed Monday.
Turquino, Calle L e/23 y 25. On the top of a high-rise Habana Libre Tryp Hotel, overlooking central Vedado, Cubans impress foreigners with their dance moves. Decor is 1970s disco.
Vedado, Plaza de la Revolucion
In Havana, you can eat surprisingly well if you know where to go and what to order.
Despite major obstacles in obtaining fresh ingredients and in finding competent staff, a few restaurants in the city are able to create simple and satisfying cuisine, from sweet grilled lobster to succulent roasted chicken and pork. And nowadays, some of the small, family-run eateries known as paladares cook up as good or better food than most formal restaurants on the island.
The rule for gastronomic survival in Havana is always to order the least sophisticated dishes on the menu. Chicken and lobster are usually sure bets. You can find just about any type of cuisine you like in Havana, from Cuban, or criollo, food, such as roasted pork with black beans and rice, to Chinese, complete with freshly made wontons and shark fin soup. Generally speaking, criollo is the best choice, since it's what the Cubans eat and the ingredients are readily available. Every Cuban working in a restaurant knows how to roast pork and chicken or prepare black beans and rice.
Two types of restaurants exist in Cuba. One is the government-run establishments that cater primarily to foreigners who pay in U.S. dollars or with non-U.S. credit cards. The other type of restaurants are the paladares, the family-operated places that feed locals and visitors alike who pay in cash, either in dollars or in Cuban pesos. Usually about one-third or one-half the price of government places, these private restaurants began springing up about four years ago, and many have gained strong reputations for quality, taste and service.
Perhaps the greatest improvement in dining in Cuba has been the wine selection. Few major cities throughout the Caribbean or Latin America have as many good wines available to diners as in Havana. Look for such names as Torres, Marques de Riscal, Marques de Caceres and Concha y Toro. You may also find good wines from France, including those from Louis Latour, Ladoucette and Hugel. There are even California wines from Wente.
Keep in mind that paladares, being home-grown operations, can close without notice. It's best to ask around. Expensive restaurants are those that cost $40 or more per person without wine; moderate, $25 to $35, and inexpensive, less than $20. Cuban waiters expect to be tipped 10% after a meal. -excerpt by James Suckling, Cigar Aficionado
Al Medina, Oficios #12, La Habana Vieja. Of the few restaurants in Havana offering Middle Eastern cuisine, this is the favorite. Although the offer is not particularly wide, everything is prepared in authentic Middle Eastern tradition, from the main courses to the side dishes. In relation to other places, the prices here are middle-of-the-range. The decoration is very simple, with bare walls and lamps. Although the building is somewhat deteriorated, the atmosphere in the patio, with the plants and bird-cages is very pleasant. At the door, a porter wearing traditional dress shows the clients into the restaurant. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $15.00 (see picture to right).
Amistad, in Vedado. Amistad is an indoor-outdoor restaurant in a breathtaking mansion (the grounds are lovely too). Good live music on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as an impressive cigar shop, and good drinks. The food? Just ok, so go for the ambience, music, cigars and drinks.
Amor, Calle 23 No. 759 e/ B y C, in the Vedado. A sumptuous paledar set on the 2nd floor in a Baroque apartment where the menu includes such plates as peanut-fried chicken. Slightly more expensive than the average paladar, but the romantic environment justifies the added expense. Average plate is around US $10. Closed Mondays.
Burgi, 9na y Paseo, Vedado La Habana, 10400. Burgi is the best fast food chain in Cuba. Food is served up quickly. A hamburger and drink will cost around $2 and prices range from $1-$1.50. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $3.00 8am-2am (see picture to left).
Cafe de Porto, Hotel Copacabana, Ave 1ra entre 44 y 60, Miramar, Playa. Daily, 24 hours. Italian.
Cafe El Mercario, No. 112 Calle de los Officeos, Plaza de San Fransico de Asis, La Habana Vieja. Located across the street from the Cafe del Oriente, this brasserie-style restaurant serves quick and well-prepared sandwiches and omelettes. For a quick lunch or light dinner, you can't go wrong. But it doesn't have much in the way of Cuban ambiance other than what you can see through the windows. ("Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
Cafè O'Reilly, O'Reilly no.203 e/ San Ignacio y Cuba, Habana Vieja. Simple, modestly priced meals, sandwiches and fast food in this restaurant-cafeteria. Good for a quick, informal lunch.
Cafetería La Calesa, 60 Boulevard, Centro Habana La Habana, +53 7 63 1095. It's quite unusual to have a cafeteria and bar operate as one establishment but, here you have it in the heart of Havana. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $5.00, 9am-2.30am daily.
Castillo de Farnés, Monserrate, esquina Obrapía, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 57 1030, +53 7 33 8694. On the corner of Monserrate and Obrapía, is a plaque indicating that this restaurant was opened in 1896. Here you can find the most typical dishes of Spanish cuisine. But it is not only the food that is Spanish, the room is decorated with Spanish motifs and a group of musicians interpret famous Spanish songs. This restaurant is nor only one of the oldest in Havana, but also one of the most traditional, and therefore tends to be quite full. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $15.00, open midday-midnight daily.
Chung Shan Los Dos Dragones, No. 311 Altos, First Floor entra Rayo y San Nicolas, La Habana Vieja. This is a simple, rundown Chinese joint in the middle of Havana's small Chinatown. Don't be intimidated by the dilapidated entrance. Located on the first floor, the small dining room serves food that is fresh and delicious and ridiculously inexpensive. Wonderful seafood as well as chicken and vegetables are always available. The mouthwatering fried rice is a treat. Forget about the wine. It's cooked beyond recognition due to the poor storage conditions. Stick with Cuban beer. Service can be very slow, so bring a big cigar to sit out the wait. ("Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
Club Almendares, Calle 49c y 28a Rpto. Kohly. Two restaurants in one location: one is a popular outdoor cafe that serves Italian thin crust pizza and pasta. Great prices, with entrees around US $5. The other restaurant serves lobster, paellas and Cuban cuisine, with dishes averaging US $8.
Comedor de Aguilar, Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Calle O esq. a 21, El Vedado. Tel: 33-3564. Daily 12am-1am. International cuisine.
Coppelia, Calle 23 esq. L Vedado. Coppelia is a must-do! This huge ice cream extravaganza serves the best ice cream in the Caribbean. Exotic flavors include coconut, mango and guava. Go all out, it's worth it.
Din Don, Ave. 11 No. 7816 e/78 y 80, Playa. Located near the Neptuno and Comodoro hotels in Miramar, Din Don serves fantastic Italian food. Try the fresh fish, grilled meats and pasta dishes. Full bar, and great garden patio.
D'Giovanni, Tacón 4, esquina Empedrado, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 33 5979. Although it only opened in 1988, it already has great reputation and prestige among lovers of Italian cuisine. Not only is it famous for its food, but also for its atmosphere, situated in an old Colonial building with a beautiful patio in the centre, wooden veranda inside and a mural when you enter, occupying almost the entire wall. There is a lobster-tank where the clients can choose which one they would like to taste. From the second floor, the views of the bay are breathtaking. You can even sit at one of the tables on the balconies if you wish. On the first floor, there are several areas, including the patio and galleries. The building itself is beautiful, with its wooden floors and so on. On the second floor there is also colonial furniture; little tables with sculptures, mirrors, paintings, and an old lamp in the centre. The tables in the patio and the galleries on the first floor are all in a space in which natural elements predominate. Average cost per person: $10.00. Reservations are recommended (see picture to left).
Don Congrejo, Calle 1ra entre 16 y 18 Miramar, Playa Phone: 24-41-69
Moderate. This is Havana's take on Joe's Stone Crab in Miami, but it comes across more like a cheap oceanside fish house outside of Barcelona, despite being in the upscale district of Miramar. Nonetheless, Don Congrejo's fish is second to none for quality, which is not surprising since the Ministry of Fisheries oversees the restaurant. Come for lunch; the view of the sea is refreshingly calming after spending some time in the hustle of the city. You can eat outdoors if weather permits. Crab, lobster and shrimp are prepared in just about every way imaginable. Fresh fish is always available; try the grouper or snapper. Plenty of good wines are available, with a list featuring more than 150 selections from France, Spain, Italy and even California. Ask Rene Garcia, an English-speaking and highly professional wine waiter, for his recommendations. Bring your own cigars. ("Highly Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
Dona Blanquita, Paseo del Prado no.158 e/ Colûn y Refugio, Centro Habana. Pricey paladar in a roomy first floor apartment. Serves a wide selection of comida criolla dishes, with their specialty being pork and chicken.
Doña Isabel, Empedrado, esquina Tacón, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100. The main attraction of this place is its location, right opposite the bay, as well as the popular Cuban music band that usually plays there. Under the ample sunshades, there are a great many tables. Some of them can only be used at night, given that they are not sheltered from the sun. The grill is at the back and the dishes are prepared upon order. It normally takes about twenty minutes to prepare the food. The atmosphere is casual and it tends to get very crowded. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $7.00, open 24 hours.
El Aljibe, Calle 24 at 7th, Miramar. Delicious and generous portions of roasted fish, roasted chicken in garlic and combination plates of chicken, rice and beans make this a popular place for good, affordable food. El Aljibe is authentically Cuban. Order the house specialty, which is a platter full of juicy roasted c chicken served in a flavorful meat sauce. Neither the waiters nor the chef will divulge the recipe for this wonderful sauce, but sources say it's made from fermented orange juice and drippings from the roasted chicken. The roasted pork or grilled steaks are very good also. Plenty of good wines are available, especially those from Chile and Spain, and they are well kept in a temperature-controlled cellar. After your meal, try a seven-year-old Havana Club Rum, or the rarer Matusalem Anejo Superior in a snifter, along with a cigar. The restaurant's humidor is usually well stocked ("Highly Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
El Bodega de los Vinos, Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabaña, Parque Morro-Cabaña, in the Vedado (tel 66 91 32). Spanish restaurant with a delicious selection of tapas as well as seafood and sirloin steak. There is usually Flamenco dancing in the evenings. Average plate around US$12-20.
El Bodeguita del Medio, Empedrado No. 207 La Habana Vieja, Phone: 624498, 618442 Moderate. Sure it's a tourist trap, but that's no reason not to enjoy yourself at this funky and famous bar/restaurant. The atmosphere is great. Get there early for either lunch or dinner, since it's packed with bus loads of tourists at meal time. Many don't even bother buying a drink or meal and simply overcrowd the place to have their photographs taken inside. The food is criollo, with plenty of roasted pork and chicken dishes as well as black beans, rice and root vegetables. It's simple, rustic and satisfying. Service can be jaded and surly. They obviously don't need most people's business. El Bodeguita was supposedly one of the favorite drinking holes of Ernest Hemingway, and he reportedly always drank mojito cocktails at the bar. He would be appalled at the quality of the mojitos today. They have resorted to using unaged cane alcohol for the drinks, making them taste like sweetened firewater. Order a mojito with three-year-old rum instead. Bring your own cigars. ("Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
El Caribeño, Calle 21 Esquina N, Vedado La Habana, 10400. This restaurant has been open since the 40s, but nowadays it doesn't serve traditional Cuban dishes. You can et cheaply and well here. The food selection is quite limited, but they do a combination of Caribbean dishes like "rollitos caribeños" and international cuisine. Try the chicken dishes, they have a few specialities. The prices are in Cuban pesos. On Fridays and Saturdays from 8pm until midnight they run a showcase called El Rincón de la Mora, which features local singers, comedians and musicians. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $3.00
El Conejito, Calle M Esquina 17, Vedado, La Habana, 10400, +53 7 324671. This restaurant opened in 1966 and it is known as one of the traditional places to eat in the Vedado area. Their speciality has always been rabbit, but they also serve Italian as well as modern cuisine dishes. The have a long bar, tables and a cafeteria in their courtyard, where you can enjoy light meals. The exterior reproduces a red-bricked 17th century English inn. The interior is quite sober, featuring dark wood beams and paintings on the walls. The dining room is spacious, and they also have a reserved space for private functions, which seats 20 people. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $25.00. Open 12pm-4am daily. Reservations are recommended
El Floridita, Monserrate esq. Obispo, Habana Vieja (tel 57 12 99 or 57 13 00). Famous Hemingway hangout (and regular stop on the tourbus circuit), and home of the daiquiri, El Floridita is expensive but the seafood dishes are good. The restaurant is one of the most formal and exclusive restaurants in the old city. Reservations recommended
El Mercurio, Lonja del Comercio, Plaza de San Francisco de Asís, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100. +53 7 66 6188. They don't have a great variety to choose from but the have moderate prices and they usually offer dishes of meat stuffed with fruit, olives and ham. You can eat inside, where there are some quiet tables or outside in the fresh air. They advertise themselves as a health food restaurant although they are not the most traditional, but they have become very popular even though they have only been open for a few years. The outdoor tables have a view of the Plaza de San Francisco de Asís with its surrounding church and colonial buildings. Inside there are dark glass walls, a bar in the back and a few tables. Outside there are tables with umbrellas surrounded by jardinères. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $9.00 (see picture to right)
El Palenque, 17 y 190 Siboney Phone: 218167, Inexpensive. Located near the Palacio de Convenciones, this is a no-frills place where you rub shoulders with everyone from diplomats to taxi drivers.The dining area is next to the car park under open-air, palm-thatched buildings. The food is fast and dirt cheap, with anything from hamburgers to pork steaks with French fries, rice and beans. Just to give you an idea of prices: a bottle of Cuban beer is 85 cents, while half a fried chicken is $2.90. This is real Cuban food at real Cuban prices. Service is always friendly. Bring your own cigars. ("Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
El Patio Colonial, Plaza de la Catedral. There's an excellent choice of Cuban seafood and vegetarian meals. Set in a beautiful 18th-century courtyard, it's romantic and has tons of ambience. Above-average prices. (see picture to left)
El Pavo Real, Calle 7tma no. 205 esq. 2 Miramar. This elegant, upscale restaurant serves well-prepared Chinese food. Average plate around US$15-25 per head.
El Polinesio, Hotel Habana Libre Tryp, Calle 23 e/ L y M, Vedado. This restaurant has maintained its tradition by conserving its original decor from the 50's and it is proven so by looking at the paintings which still hang on the walls of its entrance. The rustic polynesian style: bamboo, fibres, wooden carvings are present around the bar as well as its dining room. The low ceiling and its somewhat dim lighting make for an intimate atmosphere.Their chefs and waiters have gained prestige throughout the country. Their decor makes you feel as though you have walked into somewhere else upon entering. Maybe it's not exactly the Polynesian islands, because the environment is quite stylized, but definitely that Havana from the 40s and 50s which was one of the main tourist centres.Decor is polynesian style: bamboo dividers, wooden carvings, percussion instruments, fiber lamps and rugs. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $10.00, midday-3.30pm, 7.30pm-11pm daily
El Ranchon, Ave 19 y 140. Cubanacan. Playa Phone: 2409346 or 235838 Expensive. This is supposed to be the up-and-coming top restaurant in Havana, but it falls flat on its face. The venue is a beautiful garden setting with a rustic, country ambiance, but it's downhill from there. The food is your standard grilled steaks and seafood with frozen fries and canned vegetables, which are all poorly prepared. The starters of crab claws and fish balls are fresh out of the freezer. Service is slow and unhelpful. And the wine list is incomplete. This is overrated and overpriced. (Cigar Aficionado)
El Rapido, 219 Galiano e/ Concordia & Virtudes La Habana. El Rápido in English means "the fast one". El Rápido are fast food outlets and can be found all over Cuba in convenient tourist locations. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $2.00, open 24 hours.
El Rinconcito, Ave de la Terrazas y Calle 4, Villa Los Pinos, Santa Maria del Mar, La Habana del Este. Tuesday through Sunday, noon-5pm. Italian.
El Tapatio, Hotel Panamericano, Calle A y Avenida Central, Cojimar. Daily 2pm - 1am, Mexican cuisine.
El Tocororo, Calle 18 esquina 3 Miramar, Playa, Phone: 242209, 224530, 242998, Expensive. Years ago this was the restaurant to go to in Havana. Located in Miramar in a small nineteenth century mansion, it was always full of upscale tourists, foreign businessmen and diplomats. The food was straightforward but very good, with grilled steaks and shellfish la rigueur. Alas, it's no longer up to par. The food is still good but it's outrageously expensive--$25 to $30 for a good but standard grilled steak is a joke. Their starters of crab claws, meat balls and garlic shrimp are available in many restaurants in Havana and for half the price. The wine list is limited and what is available is normally in bad condition since the bottles are stored next to the kitchen. The only reason to pay such high prices for such run-of-the-mill food and surly service is the excellent live music, which is usually played by a small ensemble of veteran jazz musicians who know all the classic Cuban songs from the 1950s and 1960s. (Cigar Aficionado)
Fernando Amor Brena, Salvador Allende No. 1103 e/ Lucces y Montano Plaza, phone is 53-7-79-1893. Some claim this is one of the best paladares in Havana -- great chicken, rice, beans and desert. The owner is a collector of baseball cards, so bring him some and maybe you can get a good discount. The house is about 200 years old with very high ceilings. The view is nice of Salvador Allende Boulevard. Have the owners call for a taxi before you leave since taxis can be hard to find.
Gentiluomo, Obispo, esquina Villegas, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 57 3001. Just at the beginning of the Bulevar de Obispo, passed the Floridita, is Gentiluomo. Not only is there a snack bar with stools, but also a metal counter where the chef finishes preparing the dishes. It is an intimate atmosphere, with glass panels surrounding the restaurant (don't worry, you can see what's going on outside, but they can't see you). It doesn't tend to be too crowded given its proximity to other more traditional places. Decor is simple and sober. The snack bar has stools at the back; here different specialities are advertised. the tables and chairs are all in a dark varnish. There are some small pictures with architectural themes. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $5.00. Open midday-11pm daily (see picture to left).
Gringo Viejo, Calle 21 No 454 e/E y F, Vedado. telephone 32-6150--open from noon until 11pm. At the paladar Gringo Viejo, the food is great, affordable, the staff quick to meet your needs, and the owner warm and friendly. This restaurant has a Western/Cowboy theme, which seems a bit bizarre when you are in Cuba, but the food is so good that it makes up for it. Great rabbit, lamb and roasted chicken.
Habana Cafe, Hotel Melia-Cohiba. Calle Paseo y Malecon, El Vedado. Daily 12 pm-3am. International cuisine.
Hanoi, Calle Teniente Rey, esquina Bernaza, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 63 1681. Although only a few steps from Capitolio Nacional, Hanoi is a bit away from the main tourist route, in an unrestored part of Havana. This XVII century house, which still keeps its original architecture, is almost a spot of color amongst so many deteriorated buildings. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $5.00, open midday-11pm daily.
Huron Azul, Humboldt No. 153 esq. P, El Vedado., Telephone 79 1691. Expensive but very good. Average cost for two people: $40. Good size portions and quality ingredients.
Itapoa, Hotel Copacabana. Ave. 1ra. entre 44 y 60, Miramar, Playa. Daily 7pm.-3am.
L'Aiglon, Hotel Havana Riviera. Paseo y Malecon, El Vedado. Tel: 33-4051. Daily 12am-11pm.
La Casa, Calle 30 no.865 entre 26 y 41 Nuevo Vedado, Plaza Phone: 817000 Inexpensive. This is an extremely good, small family-run restaurant in the quiet neighborhood of Nueva Vedado. You can eat either in the dining room or out in the garden. Located in a 1950s-style house with a modish decor, La Casa serves such delicious dishes as fresh prawns sautéed in butter with garlic, and juicy roasted pork with beans and rice. The proprietor recommends his deep-fried chicken stuffed with cheese--something he calls "Chicken Gordon Blue." Regardless, it's tasty and rich. I once ran into Spain's Michelin three-star chef, Juan Mari Arzak, at La Casa, and he says he always eats there when he is in Havana--not a bad recommendation. There are usually a few good bottles of wine available as well as a good selection of rum. Bring your own smokes. ("Highly Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
La Cecila, Calle 5, entre 110 y 112, Miramar, Playa. Phone: 24-1562, Moderate. This is another popular restaurant of yesteryear. It serves uninspired grilled meats and shellfish with black beans and rice at inflated prices. The outdoor seating under palm-thatched roofs is pleasant enough, but the annoying trio of musicians, not to mention a ridiculous magician, ruins the mellow atmosphere. forgo the restaurant and come for the live music in the outside auditorium next door, which often features some of the hottest salsa bands in Cuba. It usually gets going around midnight. Book a table in advance. (Cigar Aficionado)
La Cocina de Lilliam, Calle 48 No. 1311 entre 13 y 15, Miramar, Playa. Inexpensive. This is a relaxing little restaurant, with a wonderful plant-filled garden to soak up the atmosphere of a sultry Cuban evening. There's also a private room with air conditioning if you want more creature comforts. The food is solid home cooking, from oven-cooked meats to sautéed fish. A starter of warm chick peas mixed with sautéed onions and three different types of ham is mouthwateringly satisfying, while a tuna-and-onion tartlet is reminiscent of my grandmother's simple but tasty cooking. Lilliam, who does the cooking, is a master with fresh fish. Try the snapper or grouper, which is oven-roasted. Service is attentive and very friendly. Not much to drink in the way of wine, and bring your cigars. ("Highly Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
La Divina Pastora, Parque Historico Militar Morro Cabana, Phone: 338341, Moderate. One of the best views of Havana can be seen from the terrace of this restaurant, located across the harbor at the foot of the Castillo de Morro, the sixteenth-century fortress, which for centuries has guarded the port of the city. It is a large, open and relaxed place, serving mostly international cuisine. Forget about ordering almost anything other than the lobster, which is kept live in tanks in the restaurant before meeting its end with your order. Another good selection is the fresh prawns, which can be grilled or deep-fried. The wine list is limited. Ask for a bottle of white, such as the crisp and satisfying Torres Vina Sol from Spain, and you'll do fine. There's even a small shop with cigars for sale, if you forget to bring your own. ("Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
La Dominica, Mercaderes 108, esquina O'Reilly, La Habana Vieja, +53 7 66 2918. Possibly the most elegant Italian restaurant in Havana, with its Colonial façade and the porter waiting outside, and the spacious room inside with the tables laid impeccably, a clear mark of distinction. The soft colour of the walls and the light streaming in from the windows contrasts with the dark wood of the furniture and doors. It still keeps many of the original features of the building, but somehow manages to have a modern feel to it as well. The tables are usually decorated with fresh flowers and hanging on the walls are drawings of the Venetian carnival. Bar at the entrance and a few steps above, the lounge with dark tables and chairs. Pictures with characters and masks of Venice Carnival. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $20.00, open midday-midnight daily. (see picture to left)
La Estancia, Club de Golf Habana, Carretera de V ento, Km 8, Capdevila, Boyeros. Daily 10am-10pm. Cuban food.
La Ferminia, No. 18107 5ta Avenue entre 182 y 184, Miramar, Playa telephone 33-6786. La Ferminia is one of the best restaurants in all of Cuba. In fact, Fidel himself has been spotted dining at Le Ferminia. Best time to go is during the day -- luncheon for $12.95, but sit in the garden patio to get this deal. Great prawns and meat. Strolling musicians. Great place.
La Finca, Ave 19 y 140 Cubanacan, Playa, Phone: 2409346 or 235838, Expensive. This small restaurant is on the same grounds as the overrated El Ranchon restaurant and everything here is better. It's a small house with five or six tables as well as seating outside on the patio. It has a cozy and homey ambiance. The menu usually includes grilled meats and seafood, which for the most part are well prepared, although a recent visit included a main course of chicken that was overcooked to a state of shoe leather. Service is friendly and attentive. The wine list is large, but only about half of the selections are ever available. Bring your own cigars. ("Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
La Florentina, Hotel Horizontes Capri, Calle 21 esq. a N, piso 19, El Vedado. Daily noon - midnight. Italian.
La Guardia, Calle Concordia No. 418 e/Gervasio y Escobar, Centro Habana. Inexpensive. The coolest place to eat in Havana is this small paladar. Located on the third floor of an eighteenth-century townhouse in central Havana, the three-room restaurant is in a converted apartment that features a balcony and beautifully carved cornices with wooden shutters. It's like a small, funky yet hip restaurant in New York's Soho or the Latin Quarter in Paris. Don't worry about the dilapidated entrance and stairway that lead to the restaurant; it's just part of the experience. (The 1995 Oscar-nominated Cuban film, Fresa y Chocolate, was filmed there.) The food is thoughtfully prepared with a delicate touch. On a given night you might encounter a tangy and savory gaspacho soup or succulent fillets of snapper and grouper served with a buerre blanc sauce that shows just the right amount of lively acidity. Owner Enrique Nunez keeps a small but interesting selection of wines, mostly Spanish. A keen cigar smoker, he was one of the creators of Cuaba. Carlos Rodriguez rolls cigars for the restaurant. The two are worth the trip alone. ("Highly Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
La Mina, Obispo 109 esq. Oficios Plaza de Armas, Habana Vieja La Habana, 10100, +53 7 62 0216. The light coming through the doors, the internal patios and the green of the plants, maintain La Mina's traditional style. It is one of the most visited restaurants in the historic center. This environment reflects a mixture of sophisticated Havana and the simplicity of rural Cuba. Rustic stools and tables, that hardly leave any room for moving around and the music of a traditional Cuban band, give the final touch to this restaurant situated on the grounds of a former school for girls. The decor is rustic, with many tropical plants. Bands are generally playing well-known Cuban songs. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $20.00, open 24 hours daily. Reservations are recommended
La Roca, Calle 21 esquina M,Vedado, Phone: 334501, Moderate. With its tatty 1950s interior, La Roca looks like a slightly down-at-the-heels fish shack in New Orleans or Miami. The food is good, but stay away from anything with sauces. I once had a fabulously cooked fresh lobster ruined by sweet canned coconut sauce thrown over it. The restaurant has a serious wine list for Havana. Service is slow and disinterested. Don't miss the dive bar in back. It's the sort of watering hole that Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra would have loved. Average cost per person: $10US. (see picture to the left)
La Torre, Edificio Focsa, Calle 17 e/M y N Vedado, Phone: 55-3088 Expensive. If you want a fine dining experience in Havana, this is the only place to go, and it's all thanks to a crazy young French chef called Frank Pecol. He came to Havana a few years ago as a tourist and fell in love with the place. Despite all the obstacles in obtaining good ingredients, he still manages to turn out well-prepared, interesting food, from grilled prawns with a sweet and refreshing soy sauce to a juicy, perfectly cooked steak with a red wine reduction served with fresh vegetables and potato gratin. It's like top hotel food in Europe or the United States, but in Havana it's three-star Michelin quality. In addition, the view of Havana from the dining room is fantastic at night since the restaurant's on the twentieth floor.The wine list is very good, with all the usual quality selections in town, from Torres Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon to a Concha y Toro Amelia Chardonnay. Service is helpful but slightly disorganized. Just don't look closely at the dining room's decor; it's reminiscent of an insurance company office circa 1960. ("Highly Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
La Torre De Marfil, entre Obispo y Orapia, La Habana Vieja, Phone: 62-3466, Inexpensive. If you are tired of heavy Cuban food or insipid international cuisine, eating at this small Chinese restaurant in the renovated part of Old Havana is a tasty alternative. Of course, it's not the quality of a Cantonese eatery in Chinatown in New York, San Francisco or London, but it serves clean, fresh and yummy fried rice, delicious wok-prepared vegetables and succulent pork and prawns. You can even have a Chinese beer with your meal. After lunch, walk across the street to La Casa del Habanos and buy yourself a top-notch cigar. ("Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
La Torre de Oro, Tacón, esquina Empedrado, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100. Although surrounded by a wall, this place is in the open-air and offers Chinese food such as pork Chop Suey, Tip Pan chicken, as well as beers and some spirits. The decor is plain, with no more decoration than the red sunshades and the counter. It is a very simple restaurant, almost makeshift, but very pleasant, casual and relaxed. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $7.00, open 24 hours, daily. (see picture to left)
La Paella, Hostal Valencia, Oficios 53 e/ Lamparilla y Obrapía, La Habana Vieja, La Habana, 10100. It takes up two rooms of an 18th century house, preserving all the original architecture and tiles. It is spacious and comfortable and particularly suited to families and couples. In 1996 this restaurant received the International Paella Prize, given in Sueca, Valencia. It is a very popular place, and tends to be quite full.Decor is old tile floors, pictures with Spanish motifs taking up most of the walls, ceramic plates with vivid designs. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $15.00, open midday-11pm daily. Reservations are recommended (see picture to right).
La Pelota, 23 esquina 12, Vedado, La Habana, 10400. It's on a very well-known corner, on 13th and 23rd, and it is one of Vedado's traditional cafeterias. As almost all other places that sell in pesos there selection is rather limited and their decor quite simple. For many years this was the place where the baseball afficionados would get together to talk about the latest games. Apart from the tables in the dining room, there are a couple in the entrance hall where you can have simple Cuban dishes as well as others for four people where cafeteria service is given. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $2.00, open 24 hours daily.
La Piazza, Hotel Melia Cohiba, Paseo e/1ra y 3ra, El Vedado. Daily 1pm - midnight.
Las Ruinas, Calle 100 y Cortina de la Presa, Parque Lenin, Phone: 57-85-23, Expensive. This is a restaurant that is suitably named not only for the nineteenth-century ruins inside its walls, but for the ruinous number of tourists in buses visiting the place and the inconsistent quality of the food. Located about a half hour's drive outside central Havana near the airport, the restaurant is large and spacious, with a lovely view of the lush green grounds of Lenin Park. Food is simple and often overcooked. A surprisingly good selection of wines is available, not to mention the very good but very underappreciated wine waiters. (Cigar Aficionado)
La Zaragozana, Monserrate No. 352, corner of Obispo y Obrapia, La Habana Vieja. Tel: 63-1062. Yet another Hemingway favorite... Founded in 1830 by a man from Zaragoza, today it specializes in this Spanish city's cuisine as well as in seafood, fish and meat dishes. This is a good place for family meals as well as intimate conversations and it has a very appropriate space for business dinners. Average cost per person: $15.00, open midday-midnght daily. Reservations are recommended
Las Donas, Calle 10 No. 525 entre 23 y 21, Vedado, La Habana, 10400. They sell take-away food and family-size pizzas with cheese, onions, ham and/or chorizo which can also be bought by the slice. Although they close in the afternoon, requests can be made to pick up the food in the evening. This isn't exactly a place to eat, considering the other restaurants in the area, but if you are around and want to eat at cheap prices, you can confide in this place. There aren't any tables but you can take advantage of the shade under the trees. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $1.00
Le Chansonnier, No. 306 Calle 15 entre H e I, Vedado Phone: 32-37-88 Inexpensive. One of the more popular paladares in the city, Le Chansonnier aspires to be like a small family restaurant in France, and it does a pretty good job of it. The private restaurant was originally created with the help of a waiter from the Le Chansonnier bistro in Paris. The place is small and cozy, with a few tables located in the front garden terrace as well as inside the house. Food is simple and well prepared. Try the grilled lamb chops or roasted rabbit in mustard sauce. They usually are served with the best French fries in town. The wine list is very limited, and you must bring your own cigars. ("Highly Recommended" from Cigar Aficionado)
Le Select, 5ta ave y Calle 30 Miramar, Playa. Phone: 247410, 247411 Expensive. When it opened a few years ago, this renovated mansion (once owned by Che Guevara), located near some of the embassies in the Miramar district, was touted as the top eatery in the city. However, it was all hype. From the outside, the place looks as exclusive as its name suggests, since it's in a restored 1950s mansion complete with swimming pool in the garden. But the food, service and ambiance are sub-par all the way. The only redeeming thing about Le Select is the live music most nights in the garden. (Cigar Aficionado)
Long Saili, 313 Dragones e/ Rayo y San Nicolás, La Habana. Long Saili is a Chinese restaurant founded in 1909. It is located in a large old house that guests will find to be spotless and attractive. A meal will cost around $5 and you can pay in either American dollars or Cuban pesos. Setting is a large eating area with huge columns that were common in older Cuban architecture. There are around 15 tables. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $5.00. Open midday to midnight. Reservations are recommended
Los Doce Apostoles, Parque Histurico Militar El Morro - La Cabaoa, Carretera de la Cabaoa, Habana del Este. Daily 12am to 11pm. Cuban food.
Los Marinos, Malecón, Avenida del Puerto, La Habana. Los Marinos is a permanently docked blue and white boat that now functions as a snack bar, restaurant, ice-cream parlour, and karaoke bar. Admission is free. There is also a store inside that sells rum and several other items. At night it gets very busy on board, with customers dancing and drinking. All prices are in American dollars, Cuban pesos not accepted. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $8.00. 10am-11pm daily
Los Tres Chinitos, 355 Dragones e/ San Nicolás y Manrique, La Habana, Centro. Los Tres Chinitos was established in 1922 and serves both Italian and Chinese food. This is a nice clean place with good food and has around 15 tables. The price for a meal is around $6 and can be paid for in either Cuban pesos or American dollars. Note that you can dine here at any hour of the day or night.
Lung Konk, 364 Dragones e/ San Nicolás y Manrique, La Habana, Centro, +53 7 62 5388. Lung Konk is a restaurant that serves both Chinese specialities and Criolla food. Criolla is a type of Cuban food that originates from Spain. The cost is around $5 a meal and can be paid for in either American dollars or Cuban pesos.The restaurant is spacious, with approximately 20 tables. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $5.00, open midday-midnight.
Monseigneur, 21 esq. O Vedado La Habana, 10400 +53 7 32 9884. Monseigneur is located just opposite the Hotel Nacional, a few steps below level. This restaurant was established in 1953, and it's one of the most prestigious eateries in Habana. In the 50s it was the venue for the greatest Cuban musicians of the era like Bola de Nieve and Rita Montaner, who used to provide live music in the evenings while the customers dined. Nowadays, it is still one of the most elegant places to eat, as well as one the restaurant with the most extensive menu. The décor has always consisted of dark curtains in the windows and an exquisite dining room. (see picture to left)
Palamares Bakery, Calle 25 e/ O y Infanta, in the Vedado. Delicious pastires and breads, all for under a dollar.
Paladar Cactus de 33, Ave. 33 No. 3405 e/ 34 y 36, Playa. Affordable, friendly service, and authentically Cuban.
Paladar La Esperanza, Calle 16 No. 105 e/ 1ra y 3ra, Miramar, Playa, La Habana, +53 7 22 4361. La Esperanza paladar is located in a uniquely designed house that once belonged to a female member of the Polar beer family who refused to leave the country after the Revolution. Expensive by Cuban standards but extremely popular - booking essential. Caters for vegetarians. The house is filled with her momentos, photos, portraits, etc. The food on the ample menu is delicious, and the kitchen very clean. Service is attentive (perhaps a little too much so). Tableware exquisite and the mojitos very strong. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $20.00. Open midday-4pm, 7pm-11.30pm, and closed Thursdays. Reservations are recommended.
Papa's, Marina Hemingway, 5ta Av. y Calle 248, Santa Fe. Daily noon to midnight. Seafood.
Pedregal, Ave. 23 y 198 La Lisa, Phone: 337832 Expensive. This is an out-of-the-way restaurant in the outer suburbs of Havana. At one time, the cooking was very good thanks to the handiwork of a Bahamian chef who was on loan from the Nassau restaurant Graycliff. But the chef left and now Pedregal serves the same old international cuisine you can get in just about any upscale restaurant in town. It tends to be either full of busloads of tourists or almost empty. (Cigar Aficionado)
Pizza Nova, Marina Hemingway, 5ta Ave. y 248 Santa Fe, Phone: 241150, 246969, Inexpensive. Besides serving the best pizza in town, this restaurant offers good pasta. The only problem is that it's a long way from central Havana, as it's located at the Marina Hemingway. Try the small Italian restaurant in the Melia Cohiba Hotel as an alternative if you need a pizza fix. After lunch at Pizza Nova, walk to La Casa del Habano, one of the better cigar shops in Cuba, and buy yourself a robusto or double corona. ("Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
Playa Santa Maria, approximately 20 km. southeast of Havana (a $10 cab from Central Havana). A great restaurant where they actually grill food, as opposed to fry! The best is the grilled giant lobster. It's truly gigantic, can easily feed two, and for $25, includes beer. Very casual, as it's on the beach.
Prado y Neptuno, Paseo de Martí (Prado), esquina Neptuno, La Habana vieja, La Habana, 10100, +53 7 66 9636. Thus restaurant is located in a recently restored building on one of the most central corners in la Habana Vieja. The ceramic pieces which adorn its walls are one of the most noteworthy features of its architecture. It is very spacious and has a bar in the entrance and tables for 4 or 6 guests. The reserved and intimate ambience is complimented by appropriate background music. Although it isn't as traditional as others, it is among one of the best Italian restaurants in Havana due to the variety of its cuisine. Here you will definitely have many dishes to choose from at a good price.The decor is modern, with low ceilings and hanging lamps at every table. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $9.00. Open midday-11.30pm daily.
Restaurant Caribe, Hotel Habana Libre Tryp, Calle L e/ 23 y 25, Vedado. Daily 7pm - midnight.
Restaurante Europa, 303 Obispo, Habana Vieja, La Habana. The Europa Restaurant serves Italian and Cuban dishes. The Italian dishes include various pastas, spaghetti and different types of pizzas. The Cuban dishes include chicken, beef, pork, rice and sometimes prawns. They also have a variety of Cuban coffees and desserts. There is a bar that serves both Cuban and international drinks. Prices are in pesos although American dollars are accepted. Disabled access is available. Average cost per person: $5.00.12pm-7.30pm daily. Reservations are recommended (see picture to right).
Rancho Hatuey, Club de Golf, tel: 33-8820, 44-1836, 33-89-18. Daily 10am-10pm. Cuban food.
Ranchon (Casa de 5ta y 16) 5ta Ave esquina 16 Miramar, Playa Phone: 241185. Moderate. This is one of the most pleasant places for a cigar lover to spend a quiet al fresco lunch in Havana. Located in the fashionable Miramar district, the small restaurant is adjacent to one of the best cigar shops in the city. Order a frosty mug of Cuban beer, preferably Crystal, and enjoy the simple but well-prepared food. The standard grilled lobster or roasted pork and chicken are always reliable; however, chef Juan Luis Rosalas usually has a special of the day, which can include anything from grilled lamb cutlets to roast beef. Try his delicious stuffed red peppers with tuna for a starter. Service is quick and
friendly. And don't forget to order a good cigar after your meal. Or walk into the shop a few feet away and buy a box. ("Highly Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
Restaurante Terraza Florentina, Hotel Capri, Calle 21 esquina N Vedado, Plaza Phone: 33-37-47(48) Inexpensive. The only good thing about the dilapidated Hotel Capri is the small Italian restaurant on its top floor. Looking out from 19 floors above central Havana and the sea, you can sometimes see Florida on a clear day. The views of the Malecon and Old Havana are some of the best in town. The food is cheap and cheerful, with plenty of pastas, risottos, and grilled fish and meats. Don't bother ordering starters here. A main course of spaghetti with shrimp in a white wine garlic sauce is always tangy and satisfying. The wine list boasts more than 100 selections and prices are reasonable. Check out the 1990 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, which sells for about half the price it does in U.S. wine shops. Service is friendly and quick. There's even a small cigar selection. ("Recommended" by Cigar Aficionado)
Roof Garden, Hotel Sevilla, Calle Trocadero No. 55, La Habana Vieja. Daily 6:30pm-11pm.
Torresson, Malecon no.27 e/ Prado y Carcel, Centro Habana. Chicken, pork and fish dishes, average prices. Sit in the balcony and enjoy the view of the sea, and El Morro.
Tropical, Hotel Panamericano, Calle A y Ave. Central, Cojimar. Daily noon-11pm.
Victoria, Hotel Victoria, M y 19, El Vedado, Daily noon - 1am.
Varadero Nightlife, Music and Restaurants
Bar Piscina, Calle 1ra y 56 Parque Josone
Benny Bar, Camino del Mar e/ 12 y 13
Bar Delirio, Ave 2da esq 62
El Golfito, Ave 1ra esq 42
El Ranchoncito, Ave 1ra esq 40
Ranchón Bar, Ave Playa e/ 52 y 53 . Varadero.
Cabaret Canimao, Hotel Canimao
Cabaret Sol Palmeras, Hotel Sol Palmeras
Disco Azúcar, Hotel Club Trópical
Disco Bello Horizonte, Hotel Coral
Disco Eclipse, Hotel Bellamar
Disco La Bamba, Hotel LTI Tuxpan
Disco La Cascada, Hotel Mélia Las Américas
RIU Mambo, Hotel RIU Las Morlas
Disco Amanecer, Hotel Bellamar
Pinar del Rio Nightlife and Music
Cabaret Rumayor, Carretera a Viñalles Km 1, in Pinar del Río
Bar Havana Club, Hotel Pinar del Río
Disco Los Jásmines, at the Hotel Los Jásmines, in Viñales
Villa Clara Nightlife and Music
Cabaret Cacique, Hotel Los Caneyes
Disco Los Caneyes, Hotel Los Caneyes
Café Concert, Hotel Villa La Granjita
Cienfuegos Nightlife and Music
Cabaret Guanaroca, Hotel Jagua
Disco Bar Rojo, Hotel Pasacaballo
Sancti Spíritus Nightlife and Music
Bar La Canchánchara, Calle del Real e/ Boca y Sán José, in Trinidad
Cabaret Costasur, Hotel Costasur
Disco Zaza, Hotel Zaza
Ciego de Avila Nightlife and Music
Cabaret La Taberna, Calle Honorato del Castillo e/ Libertad y Máximo Gómez
Cabaret La Cima, Hotel Santiago-Habana
Disco Salsa Café, Hotel Cayo Coco
Camagüey Nightlife and Music
Bar Habana Club, Hotel Camagüey
Tínima, Ave. de los Mártires No 60, La Vigía
Cabaret Panorama, Hotel Puerto Príncipe
Las Tunas Nightlife and Music
Bar 1876, Ave. Vicente García s/n, in Las Tunas
Bar Yarigua, Hotel Las Tunas
Cabaret Copatur, Motel Balcón de Oriente
Cabaret Taíno, Ave. Vicente García, in Las Tunas
Tropical, Hotel Las Tunas
Holguín Nightlife and Music
Bar Cayo Guam, Ave. Amistad s/n Reparto Caribe, in Moa
Cabaret Nocturno, Carretera Central Km 2, in Holguín
Disco La Roca, Playa Guardalavaca, in Banes.
Brisas del Valle, Centro Turístico Mirador de Mayabe
Granma Nightlife and Music
Cabaret Bamby, Parque Granma, Carretera Almirante. Bayamo
Cabaret Bayamo, Carretera Central Km 2
Cabaret La Barbacoa, Hotel El Yarey
Santiago de Cuba Nightlife and Music
Bar Pico Real, Hotel Santiago de Cuba
Cabaret Tropicana, Autopista Nacional Km 1 * Circunvalación. Nudo 5
Disco Tricontinental, Hotel Las Américas
Guantánamo Nightlife and Music
Bar Rancho Bahía, Carretera del Aeropuerto, Baracoa
Bar Yuraguanal, Hotel Caimanera
Isla de la Juventud Nightlife and Music
Bar Cayo Rico, Marina Cayo Largo del Sur
Bar Mojito, Hotel Colony
Bar Sábalo, Centro Internacional de Buceo El Colony
Bar Sirena, Marina Cayo Largo del Sur