Paladar Ivan Chef Justo
: (Aguacate #9, esq. Chacon, Habana Vieja (frente al Museo de la Revolucion, (+53) 7863-9697 or (+53) 5-343-8540. “There is only one problem with Ivan Chef Justo and that is describing to people how to get there. Actually it is not that complicated, opposite the Museum of the Revolution on the Old Havana side. Consistency of what to call it would help, currently it runs by the name of its chef, Ivan Chef Justo but their are rumours afoot that it will change to Aguacate 9 (its address) which would at least help you find it the first time. The style of the place is thoroughly Mediterranean, located on the second and third floors of a building that must be 200 years old and seems to be made of wood and stone there is a comfortable airy feel to the restaurant. It is elegantly decorated with a tasteful simplicity from old pictures of Marilyn Monroe to old pictures of the city. The view out across Prado is relaxing and there is a space small upstairs you can also eat with a little more privacy. The food is nothing short of spectacular. Ivan, the chef used to run the kitchen at Havana Chef and he has taken many of the best dishes from their.  Offerings include an excellent salmon salad, gazpacho and lamb soup as appetizers and a mouth watering rack of baby lamb ribs as a main as well as cheese risotto and excellent fish. The service is excellent, professional, attentive and quick.” (La Habana Guide: http://www.lahabana.com/guide/ivan-justo/?ref=90&tab_selected=filter-category)

El Chanchullero: (Teniente Rey 457A bajos, e/ Bernaza y El Cristo, (Plaza del Cristo), Habana Vieja, La Habana, Cuba. Telf +535 2760938 Open 1 pm-midnight) Aqui jamás estuvo Hemingway (Hemingway was never here) reads the sign outside roguish Chanchullero, expressing more than a hint of irony. It had to happen. While rich tourists toast Hemingway in the Bodeguita del Medio, Cubans and backpackers pay peanuts (CUC$2) for cocktails in their own boho alternative. It's a small, clamorous, graffiti-ridden dive-bar where the music rocks in 4/4 time rather than 6/8. Stuff that in your cigar and smoke it, Ernesto!” Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/cuba/havana/entertainment-nightlife/other/el-chanchullero#ixzz3v5Z8n5K3 and http://www.el-chanchullero.com/

El Chanchullero’s walls are like a yearbook of rowdy nights in Cuba; pasted over with boozy-fun photos and signed with endearing message from loyal clients.  These messages and pictures are testament to a paladar where locals and tourists mix like no place else in Havana.” Chanchullero is a place you can show up to for lunch, meet new acquaintances and gab over drinks all afternoon, only to find yourself asking for the menu again around dinner time, and then scrambling for last call from the kitchen at 10pm to try to get some more food down before because you know this is going to be a late night. Since it opened almost 3 years ago this low pressure paladar cum pub with its young, highly efficient staff has earned an international reputation amongst globetrotters as serving up fresh food and well-made drinks at backpacker prices.The menu is printed in a mix of Spanglish and Cuban street slang.  The first section is simply labeled “the cheapest” and offers a selection of fish and chips (the chips being boniato, a close cousin of the sweet potato), mixed salad (seasonal, if you want avocados come to Cuba in the summertime), stir fried veggies with scrambled eggs (vegetarian drunk munchies), and sautéed garlic shrimp.  Nothing on the list costs more than $3.50. (Insite Cuba:  http://insightcuba.com/blog/2014/09/29/insight-paladares-el-chanchullero)

La Imprenta: (Mercaderes No. 208 entre Lamparilla y Amargura (+53 7864-9581, open 11 am – 11pm) “La Imprenta is a beautiful place restored on top of the ruins of what used to be La Habanera printing house back in the 19th century. This is a place of homage to Gutenberg’s printing. More to the point, this is our favourite state-run (Habagaunex) restaurant in Old Havana. This is where real quality restoration has been combined with thoughtful design as to what works well for a restaurant. The effect is fabulous. The space is huge but has been designed in such as way as to give more intimacy and space. There is a mix of contemporary metal murals, designed from typographical motifs by Espacio Cubano (Cuban Space) group, wooden tables and seats recreated with letters and numbers, additional furniture inspired by desks or with symbolic references to printing type cases and even courtyard well, to which visitors can access through a wooden footbridge. Indoor and outdoor areas make up the structure of this place which has a room called Salón Boloña on the upper floor, named after the first Cuban printer, José Severino Boloña. The kitchen, which is at the end of the ground floor, has a traditional chimney with an oven made of firebricks. There is an extensive menu offering both light snacks such as tasty sandwiches, chocolate offers, stuffed potatoes and tapas as well as a charcoal grill bar serving meat and skewer options, stew dishes. Quality wise, it is pretty decent and often features high up on Trip Adviser’s restaurant list. I was certainly not blown away by the food, but liked it and felt the price was reasonable. The location is impeccable. With Conde de Villanueva Hotel on one side and Café Habana on the other, La Imprenta is located on one of the city’s busiest streets. This is a great place for lunch in the heart of Old Havana.” (La Habana Guide: http://www.lahabana.com/guide/la-imprenta/?ref=90&tab_selected=filter-category)

Nao Bar: (Obispo No 1 e/San Pedro y Baratillo, Old Havana, +537 5295 8209.) “In the historic center of the city, near the waterfront, Nao (from the latin navis, which means ship) comes with an intimate decor that imitates an 18th-century galleon — complete with ship memorabilia, under the building’s original wooden beams and Arabic arches. In this atmospheric ambience you can both taste the house specialty Lechón Asado (grilled pork), or a selection of wines, piña coladas and powerful mojitos that will make you feel like a modern-day conquistador. The restaurant staff is continuously out on a nationwide hunt for the perfect ingredients, but the package still comes at reasonable prices, even if not always cheap by Cuban standards.” (The Culture Trip: http://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/cuba/articles/the-cuban-experience-the-ten-best-havana-restaurants/)

Café Taberna: (Mercaderes No. 532, esquina Teniente Rey, Corner of Plaza Vieja, Old Havana (+53) 7861-1637: Open 12 pm – 12 am, performances 12-4 pm and 4 -7 pm):  “This is a very lively restaurant on the corner of Plaza Vieja, which is dedicated to Benny More and the home to good son bands, notably Son del Trópico, Sonido Son and the Septeto Matamoros who perform every day in two separate sets. You can come simply to enjoy the atmosphere at the bar. The clientele is almost exclusively tourists, which limits the appeal for aficionados of Cuban music.” (La Habana Guide: http://www.lahabana.com/guide/cafe-taberna/?ref=90&tab_selected=filter-category)

Opera: (Calle 5ta #204 e/E y F, Vedado (+53)5263-1632/ (+53) 8-31-2255): Homely and intimate environment, quality food in a beautiful setting” (La Habana Guide: http://www.lahabana.com/guide/opera/?ref=90&tab_selected=filter-category)

Doña Eutemia: (Callejón del Chorro No 60c, Plaza de la Catedral, +535 270 6433.) “Tucked in an Old Havana alley away from the main tourist path, but busy enough to give you a taste of true Cuban street life, this homely paladar (an independently-run restaurant) is a staple of old Creole cuisine. The owner, Laetitia, refuses to let go of the culinary secrets that were passed on to her by her mother. She cooks classic Creole dishes such as malanga fritters and the ropa vieja (shredded lamb), invariably accompanied by black beans, salad and rice, next to lots of fresh seafood and exotic fruits. With big portions at reasonable prices, it is popular with both locals and tourists, so expect to eat in good company.”  (The Culture Trip: http://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/cuba/articles/the-cuban-experience-the-ten-best-havana-restaurants/)

La Guarida: (Concordia No.418 /Gervasio y Escobar, Central Havana, +5378669047, +5352644940.) “Originally the setting for the acclaimed film Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y Chocolate), La Guarida is now a scenic ‘hideaway’ (as it translates into English) for both cinephiles and gastro-fans. Tucked on the third floor of a shabby-chic residential building, where everyday family life goes on undisturbed by curious visitors, La Guarida, hides behind some very misleading surroundings. Climb the dramatic marble staircase to dine among the old film paraphernalia of the three small rooms, but nothing beats the panoramic balcony views of central Havana if you’re lucky enough to get a place. The prices, even though not too high by European capital standards, match the restaurant’s now international fame, but there’s a choice of fish tacos and tuna steak, watermelon soup and ice cream on pineapple to make up for it.” (The Culture Trip: http://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/cuba/articles/the-cuban-experience-the-ten-best-havana-restaurants/)

San Cristobal: ( Calle San Rafael No 469, between Lealtad y Campanario, central Havana, +537 860 1705.)“A taste of colonial Cuba, from the surrounding decor to the yucca, malanga and shrimp dishes, this eccentric and friendly paladar exudes retro charm. Start with a mixed entrée platter, before moving onto the main house specialties — the lobster, or the lamb — which you will savor on 19th-century china, surrounded by stacks of books, old antiques and nostalgic black and white photographs. You can ask owner Carlos Cristóbal Márquez Valdés all about it, since he will be happy to stop by your table for a short introduction. Try the eponymous pudding San Cristóbal before a liquor on the house and, for the smokers, an excellent local cigar.” (The Culture Trip: http://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/cuba/articles/the-cuban-experience-the-ten-best-havana-restaurants/)

BellaHabana: (Calle 6 y 7ma No. 512, Miramar, Playa, Havana 1160, +5372038364.) “A chic mansion in the upscale Miramar district, BellaHabana gives Cuban cuisine a modern, international twist with a weak spot for fish. Tres Lindas Cubanas translates to three Cuban beauties, or rather, three types of fish cooked differently for your all-round culinary pleasure. Octopus ceviche and smoked salmon, squid and red snapper with different ‘aromas’ (cream, mushroom, vodka) in generous portions give the visitor a deluxe local experience that doesn’t have to break the bank. Immerse yourself in Cuban history elegantly decorating the ceiling and walls, sharing a glass of French wine or some top-notch mojitos that will merrily help you wash it down.”  (The Culture Trip: http://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/cuba/articles/the-cuban-experience-the-ten-best-havana-restaurants/)

El Cocinero: (Calle 26e/ 11 y 13.Vedado, Havana,+53 78 322 355): “A New York loft-style lounge with a rooftop terrace, El Cocinero sits in what used to be a cooking oil factory but is now a chic venue for Havana’s cool crowds. The towering chimney still evokes the building’s industrial past, but the food and the atmosphere are all about modern sophistication, from the melt-in-the-mouth duck confit and blinis to the delectable seafood options on offer. After dinner, order one of the expertly prepared cocktails, sit back on the terrace and enjoy the sprawling views of the city in front of you. With the newly opened Fabrica de Arte Cubano next door, El Cocinero is the ultimate place to kick-start an unforgettable evening in Havana.” (The Culture Trip: http://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/cuba/articles/the-cuban-experience-the-ten-best-havana-restaurants/)

La Galería: (Calle 19 esq. 12, Vedado, Havana, +53 7 8363603.) “This fairly new addition of gallery-meets-restaurant in Vedado frequently changes: both its surrounding display of Cuban contemporary art and the offerings on the menu, depending on the quality of the ingredients its team is able to source. The Creole fusion dishes of La Galería start with the staple ropa vieja and rabbit with sauce and go all the way to arabic coconut tart, via garlic prawns and fillet mignon. Go for a refreshing guava juice in the outdoor terrace, during the day, or for a romantic meal in the dim-lit (and air-conditioned) dining room by night.”  (The Culture Trip: http://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/cuba/articles/the-cuban-experience-the-ten-best-havana-restaurants/)

Casa Miglis: (Lealtad 120, Animas y Lagunas, Central Havana, +537-8641486.) “Swedish chic in the midst of tropical Havana” This is precisely the exotic mix that the Swedish-Cuban owner Michel Miglis (a film director and music producer) wanted to achieve — a meeting point for creative people from Havana and around the world. The Nordic menu is designed by Swedish cook Jonas Anderson, replete with seafood casserole and nuggets a lo Cubano. Either way, the Casa Miglis team is on the hunt for selected local fish and fresh avocado for its eclectic dishes. This new restaurant leads the recent trend of youthful, arty restaurants that have radicalized the traditional Cuban scene (it was voted best restaurant in central Havana by Cuba Absolutely) — and it does it with trademark Northern cool.” (The Culture Trip: http://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/cuba/articles/the-cuban-experience-the-ten-best-havana-restaurants/)

Cafe Laurent: (Calle M # 257 penthouse e/21 y 19, 1200,+53 7 8312090.) “Take the antique elevator to Cafe Laurent on the fourth floor, where an old penthouse apartment near the historic Hotel Nacional has been converted to a stylish minimalist restaurant with a witty 1950’s twist. Grab a seat among the Havana bohemia against a back wall covered with old newspapers, and take a pick among more than 30 Spanish-influenced, fusion dishes by Cuban chef Dayron Avilés Alfonso (with previous experience both in Buenos Aires and San Sebastian). Its specialty is seafood, from red snapper in green sauce, to shrimps and paella (caution – even starters come in huge portions). Take a place in the balcony, particularly in the evening, to delight in the scenic Vedado views.” (The Culture Trip: http://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/cuba/articles/the-cuban-experience-the-ten-best-havana-restaurants/)

Atelier: (Calle 5ta., No. 511 altos, Paseo y 2, Vedado, +537 836 2025.) “A Spanish style mansion in Vedado, with two generous rooftop terraces packed with decadent cushions, and colonial furniture in the main indoor lounge (even the silverware is antique) provide the contemporary/retro backdrop of the Atelier. In the handwritten menus, supervised by Niuris Higueras and executed by restless chef Enrique Edreida (trained in haute cuisine), you can choose between lamb entrees, conejo al vino (rabbit in wine), duck and fresh lobster, falafels, fajitas, flan (custard) and tarts, to mention just a few. You will be hard pressed to find a more unpredictable list of dishes, as well as a more comfortable, sophisticated dining choice for visiting large groups.” (The Culture Trip: http://theculturetrip.com/caribbean/cuba/articles/the-cuban-experience-the-ten-best-havana-restaurants/)

 

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 Best Unique Restaurants and Paladares in La Habana, 2016

Site Updated  February  3, 2016

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