Before I went to Cuba, I often heard that you could forget about good food in Cuba. It would mainly be an uninspired mountain of rice with chicken. Fortunately, now that I am back, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. I have eaten in surprising places, where excellent meals are prepared with love and where they work with delicious fresh products. That's why I like to give you some recommendations of places I visited myself.
Restaurant & cocktail bar Jibaro
A nice relaxed spot in the centre of the Cuban capital just a stone's throw from Iglesia de las Mercedes, one of the most beautiful churches in Havana. The menu consists of a mix of Cuban, Greek and Oriental dishes. They serve an almost inexhaustible list of cocktails, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic that are simply top notch!
This new restaurant is an absolute must for lunch. It is a trendy place with a lot of modern art by Damien Aguilles. The owner worked for years as a chef for various embassies until he decided to open his own restaurant in 2019. The dishes are simple, without frills, but a treat for your taste buds.
This is really the place for a nice night out. It is a cocktail bar and restaurant located in a historic building in the old town of Havana. Very tastefully decorated with modern and classic elements. You can choose for an extensive dinner here or choose some small dishes to share. Whether or not accompanied by a delicious daiquiri or mojito. In the evening there is life music.
This Paladar in the Vedado district is a 'must visit'. Vedado is a district where the wealthier Cubans built spacious villas at the beginning of the 20th century. In one of these villas Grados is located. Raulito, the ever cheerful chef and owner knew from an early age that he wanted to cook. He has a passion for traditional Cuban cuisine and he prepares beautiful dishes that are in danger of being forgotten, in order to keep them alive for generations to come. A delicious place, where you will be pampered culinary.
This operating farm of a Cuban woman and her Belgian husband is located on the outskirts of downtown Trinidad. As soon as you enter the gate, you imagine yourself in the middle of nature. The Finca has 6 rooms. The accompanying restaurant, where you can also have lunch and dinner when you are not staying at the Finca, is sublime. They have their own vegetable garden and most of the ingredients come from their own garden. The kitchen serves a mix of international and Cuban dishes. I enjoyed an excellent lunch here. The dishes are served in the garden. Because of the trees and the many greenery this is also an ideal place, where you can cool off a bit in the hottest months of the year.
Restaurant La Marinera
You won't find this restaurant in the historic centre of town, but somewhere in a suburb, not far from the coast. There are not many tourists yet, but the local Cubans know how to find their way to this restaurant and not without reason. La Marinera is known for its fresh fish, while they also serve delicious dishes with meat and chicken. The Arroz a La Marinera is not to be missed.
If you want to spend the night in Santa Clara, then the small boutique hotel Suite Florencia is a must, especially because you will be pampered gastronomically. The hotel is located in a notable building a few streets from the central square and has three guest rooms. The rooms are located on a small corridor, which opens onto a small patio surrounded by plants and flowers. Here I had a lovely dinner. Because one of the owners comes from Italy, the dishes, always prepared with fresh ingredients, are a mix of Italian and Cuban influences. Breakfast here is extensive and, more importantly, excellent!
An absolute must for lunch is La Aldaba. The restaurant is located in a colonial villa with a lovely terrace, lushly decorated with many plants, making it a green oasis in the historic heart of Santa Clara. The dishes are typically Cuban Creole with a modern twist.
This restaurant is rather hidden. It is located just outside Viñales and is housed in a former farmhouse that is located a little off the road. The restaurant is run by a Cuban couple, whose husband worked as a chef in Spain for several years. When I was there, I was sitting on the porch at one of the four tables that can be found there. You don't have a menu. They only work with fresh products and the waiter mentions dishes they offer that day. They serve a mix of Cuban and European dishes and many of the ingredients come from their own garden. It's a lovely place and I had great food!
The restaurants and cocktail bars described above are just a small selection of all the surprising good places I have been to Cuba. There are many excellent restaurants and trendy cocktail bars, located in beautiful buildings, sometimes in locations where you wouldn't expect it, often with a lot of creativity and always run by very dedicated and enthusiastic people. With Sapa Pana Travel we are happy to advise you extensively about the possibilities.
Would you like to make a trip though Cuba yourself and are you curious about the possibilities? Then take a look at the travel itineraries that we have put together for inspiration. You can book these trips directly, but we are also happy to create a personal programme based on your wishes and ideas.
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