Cuban food has a bit of a bad rep. It can be overcooked and a uninspired. That being said, Havana’s food scene is on the rise and there are some genuine gems in the capital. You just need to know where to find them.
L’Atelier is located in a grandiose turn of the century villa in Vedado. The fact that it used to be a private home gives it a lovely, lived-in atmosphere. Among eateries in Havana, gourmet restaurant L’Atelier truly stands out. Local star chef Nirius Higueras prepares creative dishes unlike most others. Gorgeous grilled lobster, duck confit, rabbit casserole and, ropa vieja (beef stew with vegetables).
It’s located in the same three-story building as L’Atelier. Where the Oscar-nominated Cuban movie Strawberry and Chocolate was filmed in, giving it a bit of local fame. For the past 20 years, La Guarida been the go-to place for fine dining in Havana. Head chefs Pedro Rodriguez and Manuel Cio specialize in Latino dishes and may well be the fathers of “nouveau Cuban cuisine”. They are preparing dishes such as tuna glazed with coconut, and suckling pig in a honey and orange sauce to absolute perfection.
This modern restaurant with an international menu, something that’s still quite rare in Havana. It’s situated in a timeworn printing house from the 1800s. The heritage is visible throughout, with rooms named after Cuban press masters such as José Severino Boloña and rustic furniture. Despite lying in a vast factory, La Imprenta has an intimate ambiance underlined by open-air courtyard. The kitchen is open allowing diners to peek inside to see the chefs. They prepare everything from tapas to elaborate charcoal meat skewers.
Swedish chef Jonas Anderson serves Scandinavian fare under the eye of Swedish music producer and film director Michel Miglis. Casa Miglis has been around since 2012 and is a laidback paladar decorated in an adorably eccentric and playful style thanks to Swedish interior designer Andreas Hegert. There’s nothing too quirky about the food. The menu boosts familiar Nordic classics, like meatballs with lingonberry sauce. Unoriginal maybe, but it’s hearty and full of flavour. And how often do you get to try well-cooked, wonderful Scandi staples such as Toast Skagen in Cuba?
El Del Frente
Forget the quaint floor tiles, graffiti art and sweet flowers inside this eatery for a while and head straight for El Del Frente’s rooftop. Because this paladar might have utterly amazing ceviche, tuna tataki and other Cuban-international fusion foods. The outdoor area steals the sho.Its views of Havana’s historic architecture are simply too stunning to be missed.
El Floridita Bar de Cuba
Mentioning Floridita while talking about Havana is far from an “insider tip.” Not only is it the city’s most well-known fish restaurant and bar — it’s one of the most well-known bars in the world. It’s popular, but it’s a must-visit. Famed bartender Constantino Ribalaiguas is long gone, but his original frozen daiquiri recipe is still on the menu. Make your way to the snazzy back room, where time has stood still since the 1930’s. This was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite drinking spots, and it’s easy to feel his spirit lingering by the bar.
Cuba – A foodie’s guide to Havana …try them all.