Our favourite places to eat in Havana



When we first visited Cuba, almost every restaurant was state owned and without fail served the same dishes… rice and beans with chicken, pork or fish. On every street we were constantly petitioned by people telling us their rice and beans with chicken, pork or fish were better than the next, or previous restaurant. Needless to say it became a running joke before eventually becoming a little too repetitive. What made matters worse was the lack of any seasoning, spices or in some cases flavour at all. When one day we stumbled across a small eatery which had a single bottle of tobasco sauce left behind by previous guests; a fight nearly broke out as we all clamoured to get as much of it as possible…



Traditional Rice & Beans



…Today things are very different. Cuba’s laws on private businesses have been greatly relaxed and as a result independently owned restaurants can now be found, serving great quality traditional Cuban dishes but also a wonderful selection of dishes inspired by cuisine from around the world.

So, here are our top choices and favourite places to eat in Havana, with any links to sites or pages available.

La Guarida.

  1. What’s to know? We have to start with this fabulous restaurant, not just because the food is incredible (which it is), but because of it’s ties to Cuban cinema. The building which houses this restaurant (it sits on the top floor and has some incredible views from the rooftop terrace), was a filming location for what is probably, Cuba’s most famous film “Fresa y Chocolat” (Strawberries & Chocolate). If you don’t know about it, or haven’t seen it we highly recommend watching before you visit Cuba. but this is about food, not film! The atmosphere here is fantastic, lively but not noisy, often with live music floating through the building. Unlike many restaurants in Cuba, this is one of the few places where making a reservation is an absolute must do. Don’t expect to turn up and get in!

  2. Where is it? Click Here to see on a map

  3. What to eat? Truly some of the best meals we’ve ever had in Cuba have been eaten here; if they’re serving it we highly recommend their curry, but everything is good. Post your meal, you can head to the terrace and enjoy a relaxing post dinner rum or cocktail.

  4. What will it cost? We won’t lie to you, this is one of the most expensive places to eat in Havana. Very much a special occasion and not an everyday diner.


Stairway entrance to La Gaurida

La Cocina de Liliam

  1. What’s to know? We first discovered this absolute gem on our first ever visit to Cuba, tucked away in Vedado, a little outside central Havana, it’s well worth the few minutes it takes to travel here by taxi. The tables in the courtyard outside offer a wonderful alfresco dining experience. On our first visit the son of the owner sat on a crate and serenaded the diners with a classic guitar, when he played a classical, acoustic version of Metallica’s Enter Sandman he cemented La Cocina as a must visit restaurant for our future visits! Another one where making a reservation is advisable.

  2. Where is it? Click Here to see on a map

  3. What to eat? This small, family owned and operated paladar serves a combination of traditional Cuban foods inspired by South American cuisine. Their corn bread is a true wonder as are their selection of home made ice-creams. We recommend the steak, followed by blue cheese ice-cream… yes, that’s right, cheese ice-cream.

  4. What will it cost? More mid-priced than La Guarida, but again not a cheap option.


Asociacion Canaria de Cuba

  1. What’s to know? We were first tipped off to this place a few years ago by one of our local contacts. Found directly opposite the Bacardi building (which is very easy to find), you simply walk into what looks like a government office building, upstairs and into what mostly resembles a school dining room. Don’t let the simplicity fool you though, check out the TripAdvisor reviews. No reservation needed, but does get busy at peak times.

  2. Where is it? Click Here to see on a map

  3. What to eat? We’ve never had complaint from any of our guests we’ve taken to this restaurant, the portions aren’t huge but the quality definitely is. Our favourite is the ropa vieja (shredded beef with vegetables and rice).

  4. What will it cost? One of the cheapest places we know to eat in Havana, you can have a meal here for less than $5 per person.


Restaurant Cuba 54

  1. What’s to know? Tucked away on a side street between The Museum of the Revolution and the sea front Restaurant 54 is a small, busy restaurant and cocktail bar. With mediterranean inspired decor, live music and a mezzanine or balcony (depending on how posh you’re feeling), this is a great place to stop for a drink, lunch or evening meal. Make a reservation if you can, or wait at the bar if you can’t.

  2. Where is it? Click Here to see on a map

  3. What to eat? BBQ Pork leg was definitely our absolute favourite, but the ropa vieja was also excellent and the sea food is always fresh.

  4. What will it cost? This is another mid priced restaurant, there are cheaper options, but we think 54 is worth a little bit extra


BVCC - Buena Vista Curry Club

  1. What’s to know? The last thing I expected to find in Havana was an Indian restaurant, I don’t know why it came as such a surprise but it was a welcome and pleasant one. The decor and menu are best described as an eclectic Indian-Cuban fusion, there’s live music most nights; if not every night at some point, especially during the jazz or salsa festivals. The service is always excellent, warm, welcoming and friendly.

  2. Where is it? Click Here to see on a map

  3. What to eat? We’ve not found anything we didn’t like. There are vegetarian and even vegan options. We like it a bit spicy and the vindaloo definitely hit the mark on that front.

  4. What will it cost? This is a low-mid priced restaurant; but as it’s the only Indian restaurant we know of in Havana it’s amazing the prices aren’t much higher.

Art Pub

  1. What’s to know? A Cuban take on a traditional British Pub in the heart of Old Havana! Mixing somewhat stereotypical gastropub decor with a Cuban twist, serving great cocktails and fantastic Cuban sandwiches. Visit at Happy Hour (6pm) for half price cocktails!

  2. Where is it? Click Here to see on a map

  3. What to eat? We love the snacks and lighter dishes here as accompaniments to the cocktails, but the full dishes are all good, especially the traditional Cuban ones.

  4. What will it cost? This is a reasonably low priced restaurant, expect to pay around £4-10 per person.


El Dandy

  1. What’s to know? El Dandy is a coffee shop, tapas and cocktail bar. Offering a mix between, Cuban, Mexican and Spanish cuisine. El Dandy sits in a lovely old building which has previously been a bodega, private apartment and small bar. The building was completely renovated for the opening of the new Bar / Restaurant

  2. Where is it? Click Here to see on a map

  3. What to eat? We’re big fans of the tapas and mojito combo, but also have really enjoyed the tacos.

  4. What will it cost? This is a mid priced restaurant, expect to pay around £10-20 per person depending on how many cocktails you have.

El Cocinero

  1. What’s to know? El Cocinero or The Chimney takes it’s name from the giant brick built chimney it sits under, part of what was once a vegetable oil factory. Probably one of the most upscale restaurants in Havana, El Cocinero sits adjacent to the incredible FAC (Fabrica de Arte Cubano) in the Vedado district. Dining takes place on an open rooftop courtyard accessed via three flights of circular stairs and in recent years, at least pre-Covid, a few celebrities have been spotted here.

  2. Where is it? Click Here to see on a map

  3. What to eat? We usually head straight to the grills section of the menu, opting for the chorizo or sea-skewers

  4. What will it cost? This is very much an avant-garde, small portions/high prices kind of place. Treat it as a final night in Havana celebration.


Mojito-Mojito

  1. What’s to know? Plaza Vieja in Havana is one of our favourite places to relax and wait for photographs to come to us and Mojito-Mojito is top of our places to do that from. The atmosphere is always lively with a mix of conversation and Cuban music.

  2. Where is it? Click Here to see on a map

  3. What to eat? Our go-to is usually something light such as the cheese and meat plates, accompanied by at least two mojotos

  4. What will it cost? Mid priced, not too expensive. Expect to pay anything from £7-£20 per person depending on appetite

Coppelia

  1. What’s to know? We couldn’t finish this without at least mentioning Coppelia; Cuba’s most famous ice cream parlour. Originally built in 1966 at the direct request of Fidel Castro who wanted to create a place where all Cubans could enjoy as much ice creams as they wanted. It’s worth a visit for the architecture alone; playing on the biggest theme of the era; the space race, the giant concrete structure is designed to look like a UFO. The name Coppelia comes from the ballet of the same name. There are almost always long queues to get served and seated, as a tourist you may well be offered the opportunity to jump the line and be directed straight to the front; you’re welcome to do so and nobody will comment if you accept the offer, however we like to join the line with all the locals, take some pictures, have some conversations and make some new friends. All the waiting makes that first bite of ice-cold deliciousness even better!

  2. Where is it? Click Here to see on a map

  3. What to eat? It really has to be Chocolate and Strawberry… after all, it’s Cuba’s most famous film, we started this blog talking about one of the filming locations, so it’s only right we finish on it too!

  4. What will it cost? About as much as you’d expect to pay for some really nice ice-cream