Places to Eat, Nightlife, and Private Rentals in Cuba
By: John Gilderbloom
(citizen restaurant reviewer) unless otherwise noted
December 9, 2002
Like any city in the world, especially developing countries, finding good restaurants can be a real challenge. Cuba has a handful of good to great restaurants. Most Cuban restaurants are not up to the standards of even an American fast food restaurant. So enjoy Cuba and always pick one of these fourteen outstanding restaurants. The handful of great Cuban restaurants are superior in some respects to their North American and European counterparts. The vegetables and fruits are grown organically without any pesticides and the chicken, pork, lamb, rabbit, and beef are natural or "free range." The meats are often not even frozen but served fresh. Rabbit, ham, lobster, and lamb tend to be the best kind of dishes in Cuba. If you are a strict vegetarian, Cuba is not friendly to your needs. Even rice and beans are cooked in lard. Nevertheless, participants who were strict vegetarians still had enjoyable time despite a largely fruit and vegetable diet. Moderate vegetarians managed well eating lots of fish, chicken, rice, and beans. Below are the16 best restaurants in Cuba:
Gran Hotel (Fifth Floor Garden Restaurant in Santiago)****
Clandestine Restaurant Number 875 (outstanding architecture in Central Havana)****
El Aljibe (wonderful outdoor restaurant in Miramar)
Gran Hotel (Camaguey)
Gringo Viejo (interesting interior decor done by an artist who owns the restaurant)
Hotel Nacional (outstanding architecture in Vedado -- overlooks the Malecon)****
Hotel Sevilla Rooftop Restaurant (Great architecture, food and view of the old city!)****
La Casa (outstanding architecture in a 1950's style house)****
La Chansonnier (a handsome old mansion representative of how the rich once lived)****
La Cocina de Lilliam (best place to eat outdoors in a garden; the house is magnificent as well)****
La Ferminia (another outstanding garden restaurant with accompanying mansion)****
La Guardia (perhaps one of the most interesting historic buildings with a great restaurant )****
Las Terrazas (outdoor Restaurant in Pinar del Rio provence)****
Pizza Nova (best pizza would compete well against any thin crusted pizza in America -- in Santiago)****
Restaurant Oasis (for a traditional Cuban meal, try this restaurant one hour west of Camaguey)
Restaurant La Terraza (in Camaguey, a very good family owned restaurant)
Royalton Hotel and Restaurant (in Bayamo)
Restaurants can be divided up into three basic categories: street vendors, small private family, and government controlled. We urge American visitors to avoid all street vendors because of possible sanitation and health problems -- some Americans have ended up in hospitals recovering from bad street food. Food safety should always be a concern since Cuba experiences brown and black outs impacting cheeses and meats that should be kept cold. Moreover, because of a shortage of soap and warm water, cleanliness is a major problem. Our review finds that Cuban restaurants range from bad to great. If you don't speak espanol, simply grab a cab and point to the restaurant you have on the list and he will take you. Average cab ride should be $5 in the La Rampa area (which includes Hotel National, Havana Libre, Capri Hotel, Vedado Hotel, Colina Hotel and St. John's Hotel). Always ask for cab fare before you take off. If a restaurant has four stars after name (i.e. ****), this is considered a place with a great view or an architectural marvel that deserves a visit. Please send us your restaurant reviews via e-mail. Your name and e-mail must be at the end of the review -- please use the format below: firstname.lastname@example.org
Al Medina (Restaurant - Bar- Calle de los Oficios no. 12 e/ Obisp y Obrapia, La Havana Viega. Telephone: 57-1041) A bad sign for this restaurant and others during the peak tourist season (November to May) is that only two tables had people at this large restaurant in Old Havana. This is probably the only restaurant in Cuba that serves standard Middle Eastern food. Compared to top Middle Eastern restaurants in the United States, Canada, France and Netherlands, this place would rank a six on my scale. That is the good news -- my friends were not as generous as me and gave it a three. The interior of the restaurant is nice with a courtyard. I thought the hummus and the lamb were good. The service was slow. This is a government restaurant. The live music was good -- the violin player was warm and gentle. My recommendation is simply eat the Cuban cuisine and avoid restaurants like these. It will be a disappointment for most. These restaurants just don't have the supplies to cook good Middle Eastern food, Indian, or Chinese food due to the Embargo and economic crisis, although Italian and French food is as good as some top U.S. restaurants (see below). This food will improve once a private restaurant opens up and competes with the government-operated establishment.
Amistad**** (somewhere in Vedado) Our tour guide convinced us to eat here. The mansion and grounds are magnificent, but the food rates a three on a scale of ten. I have eaten in the formal dining room and the outdoor cafe. Both places served mediocre food. The place has a good cigar shop. Have a drink, buy a cigar, and see the mansion, but don't buy the food. They have music on Tuesday and Thursday nights for tourists.
Arriba de la Bola (San Larzro No. 258, Blanco y Galino, Centro Habana. Telephone: 63-5513) This is located behind Hotel Deauville in Havana. You won't read about this in any books and taxi drivers will avoid bringing you here! Why? The owner refuses to give taxi drivers a tip for bringing folks here. This is a good word-of-mouth place to eat. This is a decent meal -- very Cuban -- rice, beans, and a side of pork, chicken, or fish. Unfortunately, this place was closed by the government, but they hope to reopen soon. Some say the restaurant next door is o.k., but I have not tried it.
Bavaria-Dragones (Dragones 414 Esq. Campanario, Centro Habana--63-2068) Rule number 1 in Cuba -- avoid all Asian and Middle Eastern Restaurants! Not only did they put me in a tiny windowless room but the couple next to me insisted on smoking! So it felt like being in a van with two smokers without ventilation! The Chinese food is horrible but the frozen pizza at $3 a pie seemed like a bargain along with the lobster at $6, which was very salty. I give this place a 3 for food and 1 for atmosphere and 5 for slow service. This is a place for a starving tourist that has run out of money! Most of the customers are Cubans.
Cabana Bar Restaurant (Calle Cuba No 12 Esquina, A Pena Pobre, located near the Plaza de Armas near Old Havana. Telephone: 33-5670 -- open 24 hours). Groups come here because they have about fifty chairs. You can get a nice meal of chicken with rice for $3.00 but you might want to try the Creole dishes that are imaginative. Chicken Cordon Blue, which includes cheese, ham and chicken that is rolled into one and fried is tasty but salty. Unfortunately, the quality is uneven. Sometimes it is good and other times so-so. I give this place a three but the outdoor eating is nice and it is fun to watch folks. A recent problem has been the stench of the bathroom, which was not pleasant -- so sit on the left-hand side. Service is slow. The tables are dirty. Looks great from afar but gets funky as you get closer.
Casa de La Castilla (Neptuno 519 e/ Lealtad y Campanorio. Telephone: 62-5482) I have not eaten here, but I plan to soon. Trusted friends who know what good food is all about rave about this place. They claim that the lobster and chicken are excellent. The restaurant is in Central Havana. Stay tuned!
Cafe Paris (Obispo No. 202 at San Ignacio; open 24 hours) No French food, just fried food without the Colonel's 52 spices. The only thing French about this place is that it specializes in fried chicken and live music. Average cost for two people including drinks is $15. Food is just average and if this place was in America it would rank a 3 on a scale of ten for food but 8 for fun -- good live music. This place gets rowdy! Located along famous Obispo Street at Plaza de Armas. Two doors away is the private art gallery of Mena. I would go for the cold beer and music only.
Chung Shan Los Dos Dragones (No. 311, Altos entre /Rayo y San Nicolas, Telephone: 633442) This is the heart of Havana's Chinatown which is maybe two blocks long. A very interesting place to visit because of the history it provides of Chinese in Cuba. In terms of food it would get maybe two stars. Perhaps the worse Chinese food ever served. Nobody has challenged this assertion yet. Interestingly, this negative review seems to promote business since many readers go to experience the worst Chinese food ever cooked on this planet! I have heard that the Chinese restaurant at the Havana Libre is decent. Oddly, the Cigar Aficionado "recommended" this restaurant. I stand by my recommendation -- frozen Chinese food uncooked would be better than this stuff.
Clandestine Restaurant #875**** (somewhere in Vedado or was that Old Havana or in Santiago......gee Mr. Policeman I don't know any Spanish and I am lost, sorry I can't help you.....) While private restaurants have opened up and are licensed by the government, there are a few private restaurants that run without government approval. This is one of them and I am not allowed to give out the address or phone number except if you see me in Havana. They serve great lobster (which is illegal), chicken, pork, and fish. The dinner including drink and meal comes to $12. The word-of-mouth on this restaurant is very good and she seems to have a popular establishment. Participants on my programs have raved about the food -- with only one exception. The view is nice, but there is no air conditioning and you must climb 3 flights of stairs. Only 12 persons per serving at 6:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Host and cook are fun and have opinions. They speak conversational English. There are several other clandestine restaurants but they have not impressed me. I give this an 8 for food and 8 for atmosphere. This place continues to remain a favorite among our participants.
Don Agamenon Restaurante (Calle 17 y M Vedado, Telephone: 33 4529) A good white table cloth restaurant in Cuba. It is located inside an old mansion. A wonderful three person folk group plays there. It is not very crowded -- I always feel like I am the only one there eating. The food is good but not great and expensive. I give this place a six. Average cost for two people: $45
Don Conrejo**** (Avenue 1ra #1606 e/ 16 y18 Miramar Playa, C 53-7-24-4169). The best seafood restaurant in Cuba. Giant lobster meal goes for $17 -- makes all other seafood restaurants in Cuba inferior by comparison. Everyone in our group seemed to agree with this assessment. The location is also nice and where it should be -- it has a beautiful view of Havana Bay. Some have called it a Havana version of Joe's Crabshack. Wrong! The food here is fresh and has not been frozen and sent from Alaska. I give this nine on a scale of ten for food and eight for atmosphere. Also, has a good cigar shop.
El Aljibe (Miramar, Avenue 7ma entre 24 y 26; Telephone: 241584 or 241583) This is also recommended by the Washington Post and just about every other Cuban restaurant guide. The restaurant is one of the few that existed before the revolution and survived! The owners represent three generations of Cuban family. Their success is in the secret "garlic roast chicken sauce" recipe which no other restaurant seems to have. They are known for garlic roast chicken, plantains, and ice cream. I love this place and we come here every time we visit Cuba and we have our goodbye dinner here. It's great! Lots of tables, great service, great food, and probably the most attractive people in Cuba. Oddly, no live music here. This comes close to the quality of food at the La Cocina de Lilliam. Average cost for two people if you get the special is $30. Unlike other Cuban restaurants, the service is very fast from ordering to eating. For the quality of food this is a bargain!
El Rapido (everywhere on the island) Avoid these fast food restaurants at whatever cost -- starve if you must; eat rocks and weeds before you eat here! You might end up on a toilet for the rest of your stay. The only thing safe to eat is the ham and cheese sandwich. Insist on soft drink from a can and not the fountain. I give this place a 0 for food quality and 2 for atmosphere. A funny Cuban joke is that the name "El Rapido" is because customers "must run home to sit on the toilet." Don't let the exterior fool you, it looks like a modern North American fast food restaurant resembling Rally's.
Fernando Amor Brena (Salvador Allende No. 1103 e/ Lucces y Montano Plaza, Telephone: 53-7-79-1893) I ate here and it was the best home cooked meal I have had! It was like eating at El Alijibe -- great chicken, rice, beans, and desert. The food is similar to El Aljibe. A very nice place. 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. Give this place a look. Have them call for a taxi before you leave since taxis are hard to find at night on your own.
(Calle 21 No 454 e/E y F, Vedado. Telephone: 32-6150 -- open from noon until
11:00 p.m.). This is my latest discovery and I love this place. The food is
great, affordable, and the staff quick to meet your needs. The owner is warm
and friendly. This restaurant has a Western/Cowboy theme, which seems a bit
bizarre when you are in Cuba. The food was so good I came here three nights
in a row after being turned away at my other favorite restaurants -- La Cocina
de Lilliam and Pizzeria El Farallon. I had rabbit one night, which was great
and matched the quality of a French restaurant in Paris -- seriously. Another
night, I had their famous lamb dish that was awesome. Finally, I had the roasted
chicken, which is rare in Cuba, since almost every restaurant likes to fry everything.
For a great paladar, I did not have to wait in two of my visits and the third
visit required a 45-minute wait. This restaurant is a popular place for gays,
Americans, and Mexicans. This is not listed in your guidebooks. I give this
restaurant a ten for food and atmosphere a nine. The owners played the Beatles
and Rolling Stones that kept the place rocking. The waitresses are the best
looking for any Cuban restaurant in town. This place continues to be a big favorite
among participants. This is a small family run restaurant with only 12 seats.
This is a gay friendly restaurant.
Reader comments from Deanne Furlong: "good fun and homey - well priced food and welcoming staff. Large portions."
Havana International Airport: New Terminal Try the Cuban sandwich in the international departure terminal at Jose Marti International Airport. After slogging through check-in, immigration, customs, and the duty free shops (decent prices on rum, coffee, and cigars) head to the snack bar/sandwich grill. It's the first stop past the restrooms as the terminal proper opens up for the gates on either side. You can't miss it. It's to the right of the empty live lobster tank. The Cuban sandwich is a classic Cuban press sandwich. Cuban ham and roast pork leg (remember the pig is king in Cuba) are cooked on the grill. A six to eight inch loaf of bread is split and grilled. The ham and pork are stacked on the bread with cheese, pickle, and tomato. The whole thing is then pressed on the grill. A great sandwich for $4.50 US. You even get a small handful of garlic puffs. It was the best sandwich that I had in Cuba. It was better than the Hotel Nacional. The food got an 8. As for ambiance, it is an airport terminal. This place explains why modern architecture is not doing well. Loud, noisy, and not to intimate. We give it a three. Reviewed by Roger Pierce of Fort Worth, Texas
Havana Libre (at the top of La Rampa six blocks from the Malecon; Calle L y 23). Here you can also try the foulest cheeseburger ever made -- worse than anything you have ever tried and will make you wish you were at McDonald's. People become immediately homesick for America after coming here. People don't eat here; they just sip on soda hoping to make an acquaintance -- get my drift.....I am told that the Polynesian restaurant is OK at the Havana Libre but have not tried it and probably will never risk my body for such an experiment. I give the food a zero (0) and atmosphere a 3. The disco on the top floor is costly to get in and is couples only. When I went there I think I counted four couples in a disco the size of half of a basketball court. A new private Paladar has opened across the street from the Hotel and this restaurant is superior to anything served at the Havana Libre and the price for a meal is only $7. Everyone agrees that the best restaurant is across the street the small private family restaurant: Monguito restaurant.
Hotel Colina (on Calle L near 23 y 25 in Vedado--one block south of Havana Libre across the street from Havana University). They have a 24-hour bar that serves a hot ham and cheese sandwich for $2.50 that I would rate a 7. The second floor restaurant serves a decent buffet breakfast of fruit, eggs, delicious pancakes, different breads, and other items. I normally have breakfast here every morning and find it ok -- but never great. The dinner is fairly standard with either a fried chicken, pork, fish, or beef dish. I would rate the breakfast a 7 and dinner a 4 -- if you can, I would try nearby private restaurant.
Hotel Nacional**** (located on the Malecon at the bottom of La Rampa--Calle 23). This place has four excellent restaurants with very good prices. The first place located in the basement without a view is a 24 hour coffee shop that serves an o.k. pizza (5 on my scale) and probably the best ham and cheese sandwich in Cuba for just $7 (8 my scale). They also serve hamburgers and fries; I am told that these are decent. The second place is the Hotel Nacional buffet (breakfast is $13, lunch is $18, and dinner is $25. My LA friend has declared the lunch on par with the New York Four Seasons Hotel. I thought it was excellent with lots of Cuban dishes to try. They also have folk musicians playing throughout the restaurant. The view is great with a view of Havana Bay and outdoor swimming pool. I give this place a 9 for food and 10 for atmosphere. The best deal, however, is the lunchtime barbecue by the large pool, which features barbecued chicken, lobster, and steak. The service is fast (translation -- it will take you less than 60 minutes to order and eat -- which is very unusual for Cuba) and the prices range at a reasonable $7 to $15. Recently, they opened up a new grill in the outdoor garden and the service was fast and good. Our tours make the Hotel Nacional a regular stop for lunches! I give these lunches an 8 on my scale. My only issue is that the outdoor restauarant in the Hotel Nacional patio area has caged parakeets which can be a major health and sanitation problem.
Hotel Sevilla **** (Trocadero No. 55 next to Parque Central, phone 60-8582) Andres Duany, the world famous Cuban American architect, says that the Hotel Sevilla is a "must-see...don't miss" experience when you visit Cuba. We agree! You could have a three hour seminar on preservation, design and layout of Havana from this vantage point. It has gotten great reviews from our groups.. It is built in the Beaux Arts style.The spectacular Roof Garden restaurant features a stunning Venetian style painted ceiling and panoramic views of the old city, looking over 400 years of architecture. A good Cuban folk combo strolls throughout the restaurant playing at your table and others. The food is very good. I especially like the lamb dish. My friends also gave a good rating for the fresh fish meals. As I said in other places on this web site, there are very few places to take a group of twenty or more in Cuba and get the following: great service, splendid interior and exterior design, very good food. Never order Cuban wine always insist on the wine from Chile! Even if you don't eat here, you should visit the Hotel Sevilla for a drink and tour of the Roof Garden.
Reader comments from Deanne Furlong: "we stayed at Hotel Sevilla on or first night in Cuba. Whilst I would not necessarily recommend the hotel as a place to stay, it is worth eating at Sevilla just for the view alone. Thankfully the food is quite good and not ridiculously priced. We ate a late dinner & breakfast there - perhaps Sevilla would be a good lunch/early dinner option to get away form the hustle & bustle of Havana and to enjoy the view in daylight hours. "
Huron Azul (Humboldt No. 153 esq. P, El Vedado., Telephone: 79 1691) Expensive, but a place that is a favorite among Europeans. Average cost for two people: $40. I give this place an eight for food, but it is very quiet and serious. Participants in past programs have raved about the food. This is near the bottom of La Rampa and down the street from the Vedado Hotel, three blocks down the street from Hotel Colina/Havana University and two blocks east of Hotel National. Oddly, not mentioned in any tour books or even Cigar Aficionado. Several participants who ate here recently gave a thumbs up for the food but felt it had no view to look at. If you are really hungry this is a good choice since the portions are very large.
La Casa**** (Calle 30 No.865 entre 26 y 41, Nuevo Vedado Plaza; phone 817000) I liked the food here very much, but even more important was the house itself -- really worth seeing! It has an indoor waterfall which includes a large pond filled with turtles. This would rank as one of the best examples of neo-fifties architecture. My architecture friends believe this is a wonderful example of the new "Cuban architecture." This neighborhood is also interesting because of its large collection of fifties modern houses. This restaurant also made the Cigar Aficionado top nine restaurants in Cuba. This magazine claims that prawns, chicken cordon blue, and roasted pork are notable. I especially liked the appetizer dish and so did my friend. My chicken cordon blue was the best I have ever tasted, but my friend was disappointed with her fish selection. The food is inexpensive -- it cost us only $36. I give the food an 8, but the house gets a 10. The indoor/outdoor patio with large sharp rectangular pond for turtles and fish is impressive.
Reader comments from Deanne Furlong: "good food in an interesting house. I would love to see more of these 50s styled places as I found it quite interesting to see. Enjoyed the cevice on the mixed platter dish (pico pico or something like that - which was great value) My only gripe being a few unrequested "extras" being added to the bill (e.g bread & butter, 2 bean dishes etc.) but even so it was still good value. Big sized meals - we could not eat everything."
La Chansonnier (J % 13 y 15, Telephone: 32-1576. Within walking distance of La Rampa and Gringo Viejo). Cigar Aficionado called La Chansonnier one of the nine best restaurants in Cuba. This time, they are right! We finally agree. With the move to a historic mansion, La Chansonnier ambiance, food, and setting make this a "10." Even better news, you never have to wait to get a table. Interestingly, the restaurant was started by a French chef who came here on a vacation, fell in love and never returned to France. The best news is that it is inexpensive which means you can get a meal for two for around $35 including beer or wine. We thought the roasted rabbit and grilled lamb were very good. It is a place where powerful people often go to eat -- especially from the news media. This continues to be a favorite of mine and I rank it among the top five in Cuba. This place is gay friendly.
La Cocina de Lilliam**** (Calle 48 No. 1311, between 13 and 15 Playa in Miramar, (29-6514; lunch is noon to 3:00 p.m. and dinner 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; closed on Saturdays) Washington Post claims that this is the best restaurant in Cuba. They are right. I think the lamb (not on the menu) and Cuban string beef are best. My friends also thought the fish was great. The food is inexpensive -- about $15 per person with drink Dining is outdoors in a beautiful garden but the wait is not long any more since they only take reservations. We would suggest ordering family style, which allows you to try a variety of plates. I also thought the bread served was the best I have had in Cuba and perhaps some of the best bread I have ever tasted. Bread and pastry in Cuba is not very good but this is fabulous. Thank you Washington Post! I have been turned away twice when I did not have reservations. Very frustrating! You need to make reservations two days in advance. Taxi ride back and forth from La Rampa area should come to around $12 and they can get you a cab on the way back. I give this place two 10's for food and atmosphere! The house is also notable for its architecture and if you ask they will give you a tour. I love this place. This is also the favorite of our tour groups beating out the others listed on this guide. The place has several well-known out of uniform Cuban leaders as patrons. This is a very popular restaurant with Italian tourists.
La Ferminia**** ( No. 18107 5ta Avenue entre 182 y 184, Miramar, Playa. Telephone: 33-6786) This restaurant is one of the best in all of Cuba. The fried prawns were excellent. The service, ambiance, and food all rank as a ten. The best deal is the all you can eat luncheon which goes for $12.95 (you must sit outside in the garden to get this bargain; otherwise, they will try to charge you $29.95. Go with an empty stomach. The barbecue was not only some of the best meat I have been served in Cuba but would rank up with any top quality Houston or Kansas City rib restaurant. I also enjoy the breaded prawns which are light and flavorful. I can't wait to go back and eat there again! Of some note is that the restaurant is located in a spectacular mansion with beautiful gardens. The musical groups have improved tremendously with several recording artists playing for one dollar tips. This is the restaurant that Castro often eats at and where top foreign diplomats eat. I would rank this a ten for food, ambiance and service. Perhaps my favorite restaurant on the island! Go here as your backup restaurant when the wait for the other small family restaurants is too long. This place claims it can serve 300 folks at a time. Later at night they have a fashion show. Since my last review the musical group which I was critical of is gone and a new group is now here -- a tremendous improvement.
La Guarida**** (Calle Concordia No. 418 e/Gervasio y Escobar, Centro Havana; Telephone: 624940) This is considered one of the best restaurants in Cuba. Cigar Aficionado lists this as one of the nine best restaurants in Cuba. This was where the Oscar nominated film Fresca and Chocolate was filmed. It is where the hip often go -- known for fish dishes. The best part about the restaurant is the building: the floor to ceiling is about 30 feet high. Truly spectacular old style building. Here is an opportunity to get behind the walls of these great Spanish buildings and see what is inside. The walk up the three flights of stairs is illuminating. I was expecting a spectacular meal and got only what I thought was a meal worthy of an 8 -- others felt similarly. Again, just seeing the house and building is worth the price of the meal. A must visit restaurant! Some worry that the quality has slipped in the past two years.
La Paella**** (Oficios at Obrapia -- in the heart of Old Havana-62-3801) Wow! This has the whole package -- great food, atmosphere, and design. It feels like a Spanish Cafe off of State Street in Santa Barbara. The best news is that this restaurant won international competition for best Paella outside of Spain! Moreover, it has won this award twice. It was an awesome meal! More good news: a meal for two of Paella runs as low as $15. A great deal. This restaurant should be on your "must go to" list.
Reader comments from Deanne Furlong: "we went for lunch - looks to me that there would be a better ambience in the evening. The Paella was tasty but I found the serving to be on the small side - perhaps we were just really hungry - we did not have starter, so perhaps with a starter the size of the serving would be OK."
La Roca (Calle 21 e/ M, Vedado two blocks west of Capri Hotel: 33-45-01) This was discovered by our participants recently and they raved about the food, the bartender, and the music. This has the whole package but no great view. This was also listed in Cigar Aficionado as one of the nine best restaurants in Cuba. Unfortunately, this has not been my experience! I took a group of people there and they had a mini riot. The food quality was fair to poor, the servings meager, and at the end we ended up arguing with the waiter over the price of the wine. Yes, the bartender and piano player are fun but the food is so much better at the other restaurants I have listed on this guide. So put this down as very uneven and unpredicatable.
Las Ruinas**** (Calle 100 y Cortina de la Pressa, Parque Lenin -- 30 minutes from La Rampa area Telephone: 578523) Where does Castro entertain foreign dignitaries? This is the place. One book claimed that Castro and a friend just drove up to the restaurant in a jeep without any entourage. Castro loves the food and architecture of this place. This is an architectural marvel of modern Cuban architecture that builds on the ruins of an old church with a modern glass and stone structure that works well in this forest. It's hard to know when you are inside or outside. The food is about a seven and the atmosphere is a ten. Pretty standard Cuban dishes of rice, beans, and a selection of fish, chicken, pork, or steak. This restaurant is expensive -- expect to pay about $50 for two persons.
La Terraza Florentina**** (Hotel Capri Calle 21 y N --two blocks from the top of La Rampa; Telephone: 333571) -- the Hotel towers into the sky and overlooks the Hotel Nacional two blocks away. This restaurant is moderately priced and has average to good pizza and spaghetti. That was my experience a year ago. More recently 10 Americans went there for dinner and all were unhappy with their meals. One participant claimed the fish was not fit to eat. On the other hand, Cigar Aficionado claims this to be one of the nine best restaurants in Cuba. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle -- just an average restaurant with a great view in an interesting building. You eat on top on the eighteenth floor and have a spectacular view of Vedado, Havana Bay, the Malecon, Old Havana, Miramar, and Hotel Nacional. I often take my tour groups to this restaurant for the view alone. Of some interest are the blown up black and white photos of well known mobsters and singers like Frank Sinatra who came here in the late 1950s. Adjacent to the restaurant is the rooftop pool filled with Europeans. The basement restaurant has a breakfast that is better than the buffet of the Hotel Colina and Vedado but still not as good as the Hotel Nacional. Avoid the dinners at this basement restaurant.
Las Treas "B" Restaurant (Calle 21 No. 164, Altos; E/K y L, Vedado Telephone: 30-6626 or 32-9276) This is within walking distance of La Rampa across from the Park; I have not eaten here but the menu indicated traditional Cuban dishes of rice, beans, and a selection of pork, steak, or chicken for $7. The place lacked customers which is not a good sign and the place seemed somewhat dirty -- another bad sign. Hopefully, someone will send us a full review on this restaurant.
La Zaragozana (Avenida de Belgica between Obispo and Obrapia--near the Capitolio) This restaurant has been here since 1830. It was like eating in a loud and friendly Chicago cafe on a Friday night. It should be on your list of places to eat. The four person acoustic group does everything from the Beatles to traditional Cuban music. If you are looking for a good paella (This is the Cuban national dish of yellow rice with pork, chicken, and lobster), then this is the place to go. If you bring in a group of six persons or more they will give you the luncheon special of paella for only $12 a person. That is a bargain. At night the average cost for two people: $40. I give this place an eight for food and six for live music. This restaurant shares the same kitchen and chefs as the overpriced and highly regarded La Floridita next door. The food is prepared the same but the prices are 50% less at La Zaragonzana. This restaurant is not as good as La Paella; if you going for paella go to there.
Monguito Paladar (across the street from the Hotel Havana Libre: Calle L No. 408 bajos e/ 23 y 25 Vedado; Telephone: 31-26-15) If you are looking for an inexpensive but good place to eat this might be the spot! Standard Cuban cuisine of rice, beans, and selection of pork, fish, chicken, or steak. Cost is about $8 per person. Participants in our programs continue to report that the food is satisfactory.
Paladar El Jinete (Infante No. 102 Esq. A 25, Telephon 78 2290) Oddly, this is not listed in any books, yet I find this to be one of my favorite places to eat. The barbecued chicken is very tasty and unusual. It is intimate, decorated nicely, and quiet. Average cost for two people: $25. The food here is a seven and the atmosphere is a seven as well. The seats are uncomfortable. The restaurant has been closed for the past fourteen months because a water pipe broke -- I sense that this has more to do with politics than water pipes.
Paladar Exclusiva (Calle 25, No. 158 Infanta y O, Vedado, Telephone: 78-8250) A good paladar that deserves a visit if the nearby El Jinete has a line. I thought that it was o.k. but not memorable. This place has been closed down for the past fourteen months. I give this place a five on my scale.
Paladar El Paradiso (Calle 22, No. 3110, 31-A y 33, Miramar, Playa) Great; the chicken is very tasty! The outdoor dining patio has good ambience. Worth a try. Average cost for two people: $35
Pizza Nova (17th and 10th in Vedado, also Marina Hemingway entrance in Havana 5ta Avenue y 248, Telephone: 241150 or 246969 Hotel Santiago in Santiago) I love pizza. Voted best pizza by the U.S. Interests Section! This might be one of the best pizzas made in the world! A great thin crust with fresh ingredients -- Italian style. My American friends agree with me on this assessment. When you get tired of Cuban food try this out. Pizza is priced at $6 with one topping so figure $14 for a pizza with mushrooms, olives, sausage and pepperoni. Nice atmosphere along the marina. I give this place a ten for food and for atmosphere. This place also was recommended by Cigar Aficionado -- best pizza in town! This might be the best bargain in town. This place continues to be a big favorite among our tour groups. Because of price, quality, and convenience, I probably go to this restaurant the most.
Pizzeria "El Farallon" (Calle 22 # 361 e/23 y 21, Vedado in La Habana open from noon to midnight). I have eaten here twice and the pizza is very good and incredibly cheap. They list small pizzas at $2.50. This is a small paladar so you only have seating for 24 persons. The wait from 6 until 10 can be anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, but that is probably a good sign about the quality of the pizza. If you don't want to wait, come around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. or after 10:00 p.m. The owners are very warm and the view is striking. The restaurant is in an old Havana house that is on a cliff with a nice view. The restaurant also has a large pond with about 30 turtles. The bathroom is not so great -- no hot water and does not smell very nice. I rate this an 8 for food and 9 for atmosphere. This is a Cubano place; very few tourist come here. Not listed in your guidebook. The whole restaurant has been closed down for a year by government order.
Playa Santa Maria**** Just 20 km. southeast of Havana (a $10 cab ride from Central Havana). You will soon grow tired of fried food of Havana's restaurants and want something grilled. The best place for this is the beach of Playa Santa Maria. It has a number of competing food stands. The best treat is the GIANT lobster that looks two or three times bigger than New England lobster. The lobster is wonderful and filled with tasty meat. Highly recommended. The lobster feeds two for $25 including beer. A must if you love seafood. I am crazy about the grilled chicken sandwich which is the best I have ever had. While I would rate the food a seven, the beach scene is what many might call stimulating. Thong suits for women and bikini briefs for the men are dominant. This reminds some of Rio! Music is blasting and the water is aqua blue. A place to gawk, walk, and talk. Always come here with a friend since theft is a problem when you go into the water.
Prado y Neptuno**** (This is located near the Capitolio and National Ballet Theater) The architect who worked on the world famous Nacional Arts School also designed this restaurant. This restaurant was recently featured in the New York Times as a example of the post modern architecture movement that is slowly coming together in Cuba. This is an Italian venture that feels like a hip New York Soho hangout for artists, musicians and intellectuals. the interior is ultra modern. The Italian owners have created a wonderful interior and the food is excellent and surprisingly inexpensive. The pizza is average at a rating of 6, the four cheese pasta is excellent with a rating of 9, and the deserts are a 9. Still no waiting to get in and lots of tables. The solo musician is very good. The crowds have now discovered this little jewel in Old Havana one block from the Capitolio/National Ballet. They serve a nice array of deserts, coffee, and liquor. This restaurant will be ranked as one of the top ten restaurants in Havana.
Ranchon (Casa de 5ta y 16, Miramar Playa; Telephone: 244169). This has become a big favorite of Americans who travel with us to Cuba. It is also ranked by Cigar Aficionado as one of the top nine restaurants in Cuba. The prices are moderate. It is also known as a place for Cigar lovers -- so be aware that "smoke is in the air" and one of the best cigar shops in Cuba is next door! People rave about the lobster, roasted pork, and chicken. I went there and the place was deserted -- not a good sign on a Friday night at 8:00 p.m. It is a government restaurant and I suspect from looking at the menu that the rave reviews are more hype than deserved. I chose not to eat here.
Ranchon "Cienaga De Zapata" (Cadena Rumbos, Tramo Jaquey Grande, Autopist Nacional) This might be the worst restaurant in Cuba, yet hundreds of Americans eat here every day -- call it Castro's revenge! They serve what they call ham which is a bad version of spam on bread with what seems like millions of flies flying around. The place is about two and half hours outside of Havana on the way to Trinidad/Bay of Pigs. You will know it since they have a "cute" white and blue fishing boat near the highway. Don't let your driver stop here. Instead, insist that he drive another 30 minutes to Ranchon Augada de Psajeros.
Ranchon "Aguada de Psajeros" (Cadena Rumbos Rano Iguada de Padajeros, Autopist Nacional. Look for the train engine in front) This is the only place to stop on the highway between the Bay of Pigs/Camaguey/Trinidad. The food is fair, good grocery store, and great musical combo.
Restaurante Bar Bon Appetite (Calles 21 and M) Offers meals of pork, fish, and chicken over rice. The food is fair and the price is low at around $5. It is located near Havana University and seems to be a place where professors and students hang out. I would give this place a six for food and a seven for atmosphere.
Restautante El Patio San Ignacio**** (No. 54 at Empedrado right next to Plaza de la Cathedral) A great people watching place. The seven person group is hot, featuring congos, cowbell, and bongos that give you a driving Cuban beat similar to that of Santana (but no Hammond B-3 organ or Carlos!). The Cuban sandwich is o.k. This place reminds me of New Orleans. The sandwiches rank a six but the music is at a nine. The more formal restaurant is very expensive, beautiful, and the food is good, but not great. I would give the restaurant a seven. The service tends to be slow with too few waiters. A ham and cheese sandwich along with coke takes about 90 minutes and that is being pushy! The location is spectacular on the landmark Cathedral Square.
Restaurante La Torre (Calle 17, No. 206 at the corner of M and N; Telephone: 553088) Lots of salty and school cafeteria-like food. The view is spectacular at the 26 floor; worth a drink but avoid the dinner. Perhaps one of the worst restaurants in Cuba but still finds mention in most guide books. Surpisingly, Cigar Aficonado ranked this as one of the top restaurants in Cuba -- one wonders what they were smoking! The food is overpriced which was noted by Cigar Aficonado. I give the food a two but the view is worth a seven. Suggestion: just get a drink, take in the view, and get out. The building once housed Russian political staff and some architects think that the modern design is very good -- I think it is awful, gray, dark, institutional, and cold. Back to the USSR!
Rumbos Cafeteria (Calle 23 and P; open 24 hours) The pizza is frozen yet still tastes better than Papa Johns! The pastries and candies are good and the sandwich is o.k. Another interesting people watching place. This is somewhat like latenight Denny's, where people go after a disco or movie to hangout. You can also get legal cigars there. I give this place a four but the people that come in make it interesting with a seven.
Taberna (Mercaderos esq Tte.Rey; Telephone: 61-1637) Some members of our group have tried it. The restaurant is very nice and close to old market square. People give the food a seven. The interior design is impressive.
Terrace Restaurant (located in Cojimar on the Bay) This where Hemingway, Spencer Tracy, and Marilyn Monroe were known to hang out! This might remind you of Bodega Bay in Northern California pre-Hitchcock/Birds! Hemingway's "Old Man from the Sea" still comes down from his house to meet people and get tips for a photograph ($10 a picture!). The view is serene overlooking Cojimar fishing village of small wooden ships. Few Cuban restaurants have this nice a view. The lobster at $12 is an excellent deal and fills you up quickly. The fishing village with the castle is great for taking photos. I give the food an 8 and the atmosphere a 10+ + + +. Taxi ride back and forth should be $20.
The Decameron (Linea #753 between Paseo and 2nd Varadero tel: 832-2444) A small but snug paladar that not only boasts some of the very best food in Havana but also some of the best portions. Friendly service in an environment of old clocks hung all over the walls, the Decameron still remains a very quiet, small, family affair unlike many other successful paladars these days. Because of this, the food is prepared in a household style kitchen and can therefore take time - especially as everything is prepared from scratch. This is not a place to go if you have a schedule to keep but as an end of day relaxed meal of quality. Wines are reasonably priced and quite good. Prices are cheaper than ther popular paladars. The Decameron is also open for lunch. review by Joseph
Tropicana**** No trip to Cuba is complete without going to the world famous Tropicana. Yes -- dinner, transportation, and show is about $75 per person. Considered by many an architectural marvel and one of the most beautiful theaters in the world -- perhaps the most beautiful. I have brought many people here, often kicking and screaming and they come away raving about the show. Better than any New York Broadway presentation, the show is spectacular. The food is pretty simple -- chicken, sandwiches, and a drink. Hotel sometimes has specials to take folks to this great outdoor restaurant. I would rate the food a 6 but atmosphere is a perfect ten.
Vistamar**** (Avenida 1ra. e/22 y 24 No. 2206 -- Miramar; Telephone: 23-8328) A spectacular 1950's modern house that is worth the price of the food alone. Regardless of whether you eat here or not, the house deserves a visit. You can also see from the second floor deck other houses in the neighborhood. This is the house that has the swimming pool that seems to go right into Havana Bay. It is a great optical illusion.This is a twelve seat private restaurant. The food is not as good as Don Cangrejo, however. I give the food a seven but the house and view a 10++. We now stop at this house as an excellent example of 1950's architecture.
Reader comments from
Deanne Furlong: "I think
is worth going just to see the house. They served the best mojito that I tasted
in Cuba. The food was good - lobster & crab were offered to us and the price
was really reasonable. Every time prior to Vista Mar that we tried lobster we
were always left disappointed - so much so that I would recommend not ordering
lobster anywhere in Cuba until you have inside knowledge that the lobster will
be good otherwise you will be paying high prices for a very average dish. We
initially intended to go to Don Conrejo, (just down the road from Vista Mar)
but our first impression of the place was that it was so devoid of character.
Yeah sure, the food may be great, but Vista Mar had it over Don Conrejo for
ambience. It looked to me that Don Conrejo would perhaps be best for lunch."
Yusimy (200 # 6548 o/o 65 A y 73; Telephone: 203146) about 20 minutes from La Rampa area, near Marina Hemingway. I have not eaten here yet and hope to when I come back to Cuba. I am told it is affordable and has good standard Cuban dishes of rice, beans, and choice of pork, steak, or chicken.
The major Hotels usually have entertainment programs that range from free to $30. More recently, folks have enjoyed Johnnies Disco, Havana Club, and the 1850 Club all near the river along the Malecon on Havana Bay. Old Havana near Cathedral square and Obisbo Street has a lot of traditional Cuban music at night. Another place that caters to Spanish speaking tourists is Ditu's on the Malecon at Calle 1 entre y D -- next to Pizza Nova. Good live music.
Royalton Hotel (town square). The only place to eat between the seven hour journey between Camaguey and Santiago. Feel fortunate that there is at least one clean, affordable restaurant. The food rates a seven if you order the meat dishes like string beef. Try the ham and cheese sandwich, drink a beer, and walk around the town square. This is the real Cuba. Avoid the El Rapido Restaurante down the street. Bayamo does have a store in the City Square where you can also get snacks. There is another restaurant with Cuban fare in the square but I do not recommend it.
Rambos S.A. Restaurant Oasis (one hour West of Camaguey -- Carretera Central km.18, Ciego de Avila; Telephone: 266361 / 28738) This is the place to have lunch between Trinidad and Camaguey and a favorite among our participants. A working farm with fresh pork and chicken, it also has wonderful vegetarian meals of fruit plates. All outdoors, the restaurant includes a very good music group. Highly recommended, maybe one of the ten best restauarants in Cuba.
Restaurant La Terraza (Station Rosa No. 8 entre Ste. Rita y San Martin) Where is the best restaurant in all of Cuba? Unfortunately, it is not in Havana. You have to travel 7 hours south to Camaguey. I would give this place 5 stars!! It is not just one of the best restaurants in Cuba; it might very well be one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten at. For $8, they have a dish that is delicious; I ended up going there every night. One dish that stands out is fried pork stuffed with cheese and rice. I have never tasted anything like it!
Gran Hotel Restaurant**** (5th floor) The Cuban string beef is wonderful. If you love eating cow meat this region produces the best beef! A wonderful experience. We also enjoyed the breakfast. This place has improved and the remodeling of rooms has been done very well. Some participants have called this the best Hotel food on the island. It continues to improve; breakfast is also very good.
Restaurant La Bamba (San Martin No. 408 e/ San Fernando y Pobre; Camaguey -- no phone) This is certainly not the best or the worst of a Cuban paladar. Pretty ordinary, if you get sick of La Terraza after eating there every night come here but you will be disappointed. I give this place a four.
Camaguey Hotel The dinner is mediocre and the breakfast is awful. Stay away from this place. According to a reliable source, they spend $1 per person for the buffet. Go to the Gran Hotel if you can.
del Rio Provence
Las Terrazas Outdoor Restaurant**** (18 km northeast of Villa Soroa and 12 km West of the Havana-Pinar del Rio Highway at Cayajabos). What a wonderful surpise! Great food, music and a beautiful view of a lake and community garden. Much of the food served was grown here at the UNESCO established biosphere. The dish was chicken with rice and beans and a drink for $10. What was really wonderful was the 7 piece musical group that just signed a record contract with a French recording company! I would give the food an 8 and the atmposhere a 10. After lunch we went swimming in the San Juan River. A wonderful must see place.
Fernando de la Coba Castro y Yarelis Santos Perez (Carretera Central # 88, Banda Placetas e/t Ceiba y Bonachea. TÃ©l. (53) 42 21 83 55, NÂ° / lic. 555). Private accomodation in Santa-Clara. A very large and beautiful house situated in large grounds in a residential district that is 2 km from the center. The house includes 5 bedrooms with 5 bathrooms, 3 sittings rooms, 1 kitchen, 1 dining room, and 1 garage. All is situated on the ground floor. Two large bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms are to rent. The bedrooms are equipped with air conditioning and the bathrooms are supplied with hot water. The meals are excellent in terms of quality, quantity, variety, and price. The owner is an excellent cook. The proprietor has a list of places that you can visit in Santa Clara and also places of interest within a 250 km area around Santa Clara. In addition, he has transport contacts: a recent car with driver costs $10, plus petrol expenses.
Price of 1 bedroom (for 2 people): $15/night. Breakfast: $3/person. Meal: $7/person.
Casa Gran Hotel (downtown historic plaza) The fifth floor outdoor garden restaurant is great. I had a wonderful meal for $6.50. The string beef and the flan were great. The view was wonderful during sunset. Highly recommended. The 3 person Cuban musical group was great. More recently people have complained about the slow service and that the quality of food has gone down hill.
Colonial (San Basilio #125, entre Padre Pico y Tte. Rey. Telephone: 622538). This place has two air conditioned rooms to rent, so I don't know if the restaurant operation is legal or "clandestine". Some of the food offerings are definately illegal (lobster and shrimp). The food is served in the patio of an older Cuban home. Don't be discouraged by the neighborhood. The "Colonial" is an easy walk from the Gran Hotel although it is a bit hard to find. You will encounter many "helpful" guides along the way. In fact, they will pester you unmercifully with all they usual questions about where you are from, do you want cigars (very cheap-you look), and (if they are no women in your group) what about chicas. They will also try to steer you to other places (their mother's?), but be firm about your destination and let someone guide you. They're just trying to make a buck and they'll get a commision from the owner and maybe pester you for a dollar. The food is worth the hassle. Step onto the porch and through the front door. On your way to the patio, say a pleasant hello to the members of the family watching TV in the front room. I ate there twice with great results. They offer lobster, shrimp, fish, and chicken. The chicken is fried or in a salsa criolla (a Cuban creole sauce). The lobster, shrimp, and fish are grilled or in a salsa criolla. All meals come with Cuban style salad (sliced tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, and possibly some cooked green beans), congri (rice cooked with black beans), and some fried starchy item (platanos or potatoes). The prices were reasonable by U.S. standards: $12 for lobster or shrimp (illegal items), $9 for the fish, and $8 for the chicken. On my second visit, 5 people ordered the lobster and the owner lowered the price to $10. Portions are substantial. The lobster was really big. All the dishes were good. I thought the grilled lobster and the chicken in a salsa criolla were the best. Lobster aficionados in the group rated the lobster a 7-8 on quality and a 10 for price. Wine, beer, rum, soft drinks, bottled water, dessert, coffee, and cigars are all available for an extra charge. This is not a fancy place but it is well worth the effort to go there. Take advantage of your visit to look at the house. Overall, I'd rate this place an 8-9 on food and ambiance. It's a Cuban experience. Review by Roger Pierce.
Hotel Santiago**** We recently stayed here for several days. This is probably the best hotel buffet breakfast and dinner. Participants also stayed at the Hotel Nacional and Melia Cohiba Hotel in Havana. The piano player was very good. The selections were good. I give this Hotel an 8.
Pizza Nova**** (Hotel Santiago in Santiago) I love pizza. This might be one of the best pizzas made in the world. A great thin crust with fresh ingredients. My American friends agree with me on this assessment. When you get tired of Cuban food, try this out. Pizza is priced at $6 with one topping so figure $10 for a pizza with mushrooms, olives, sausage, and pepperoni. Nice atmosphere. I give this place a ten and another ten for atmosphere. Service at this restaurant was very good. You get to eat at one of the best examples of modern architecture in Cuba the Hotel Santiago. Eat by the pool and enjoy the architecture. The tiles around the hotel are slippery, causing many to fall and hurt themselves.
Morro Castle Restuarant**** (next to Morro Castle) Wow. Cuban restaurants do not link great views with great dining. This is an exception. It reminds some of Big Sur in Northern California without the fog. A spectaucular view and the food is very good depending on the dish you order. The house specialty is Creole horse meat in a roll -- a little tough to eat Trigger for lunch but what the heck! I thought the fish with cheese and ham stuffed in it was superior. I give this place a nine for food and ten for atmosphere. The restaurant is outside. Note: when Paul McCartney, the cute Beatle, visited Cuba he came to this restaurant for lunch. We don't think he ate the horse meat dish!
Restaurante Choito Calle
10% Aguilua y Fernando Marcane Reparto
Santa Barbara (near Hotel Las Americas --10 minute walk) An outdoor patio setting
in the rear of a private home where lobster or fish is available for $15 in
a modern concrete single level home. The meal includes a tomato salad, congris,
and fried plantains. Rum, soft drinks, and beer are available for an extra charge,
as is coffee, but no wine or music. We went on a slow night so there were no
other clients. The lobster was large and juicy. It can also be ordered with
a tomato based creole sauce. The snapper was lightly breaded and fried. The
host was very attentive; quick service. Rank 7 on a scale of ten. Reviewed by
Salon Tropical (Fernandez Marcane No. 310 (alto) e/ 9 y 10 Rpto. Santa Barbara; Telephone: 41161) This is considered by many to be the best family owned restaurant in Santiago. I made a short visit but was turned off by the dark room that had little view. I left. Several participants went to the restaurant and felt it was very good.
Fernando Ramirez Garcia (Frank Pais No. 159 Cienfuegos y L. Perez in downtown Trinidad, Telephone: 4375) An excellent meal but you need to call Fernando by 4:00 p.m. to let him know that you are coming for dinner. The giant lobster and the steak dishes are very good. He also operates a casa particular upstairs for $20 a night. Highly recommended.
Hotel Anacon (along the beach). This has one of the best buffets in Cuba. I liked the food because it was spicy. Good selection of fish, beef, chicken, rice, and beans. It costs about $18 for lunch. This might be better than Hotel National. I give the food a 9 and atmosphere a 7 -- too big and no view of the ocean.
Las Cueves (at the top of the hill in Old Trinidad near the historic church) This restaurant has a decent breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The New Year's feast was one of the best meals I have ever tasted and the roasted pig was perfection. Great view with wandering musicians and magicians (He was great). I give the breakfast a 7 and dinner a 7 if it is not New Year's. The Cuban fashion show at 9:30 a.m. is of some cultural interest is outside the restaurant.
Casa Particulars: Havana
"The House of Cristina Abad" (Address: Calle 36 No 146 entre 43 y 45, Nuevo Vedado, Ciudad de La Habana) designed by world famous Cuban architect Ricardo Porro in 1954. He is the same person that designed the National Arts School that is ranked as one of the ten archictectural wonders of the world and a UNESCO world heritage site.. This is a residential neighborhood, from the 50s, very quiet, called "Alturas de Nuevo Vedado", architects from around the world tour the neighborhood of excellent houses. We don't rent rooms but the whole house, so it means that we don't have different guests rented at the same time unless they come together or are familiar each other. Our booking capacity is up to two rooms. Prices are: 60 dollars daily if only one guest is rented in the house (could be two if it is a couple sharing the same master room) and 85 if the two rooms are rented, for example, two couples. Breakfasts service is 5 dollars per person, but as we rent the whole house, the kitchen is available and the guest is free to make its own meals if desired. Air conditioners (split system) is all around the whole house including the master bedroom. Each room has TV set and VCR and a safe. Other conforts are: warm water, full privacy (only my wife and me live in the house, in a little apartment that we share in the basement of the house). Our preferences for guests are senior citizens and couples that come to meet the Cuban people and the country itself. Reservations can be made, preferably well in advance, at:
Mr. Jose Ramon Mallon or Ms. Graciela
Address: Calle 36 No 146 entre 43 y 45, Nuevo Vedado, Ciudad de La Habana
Phone: (537) 881-0692
Email addresses (by order of priority):
Juana Benítez Pérez
and Ernesto Cardoso Vega (Address:
Calle Luz #310, e/. Habana y Compostela, Habana Vieja, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba. Tel: +53-1-615164). The house in the heart of old town Havana. It is a large apartment with entrance hall, dining room, kitchen, sleeping rooms, bathrooms with hot and cold water, air conditioning, and garage. Four rooms are to rent, 25 US dollars per night, breakfast $2.50 per person. The highlight of the house is its terrace which gives a marvelous 360 degree view onto the roofs of old town Havana. Reviewed by Holger Theisel.
The best casa in Havana from one of Cuba's coolest architects!
HOT- muy caliente! Lisbet Santos Tamayo (Calle B, No. 708, Bajos, e/ 29 y Zapata, El Vedado, La Habana). Colonial style home in residential Vedado neighborhood. Owners are a young Cuban couple who both speak English and French. They rent a private room with bath (hot water) and air conditioning. Modest prices. She also has a one bedroom apartment that is being fixed up. Same address. Telephone: 39166 This is the house I used to live in and have abandoned them for the time being. Review done by Kris Bachrach, Chicago.
www.cubapartment.com This site is run by a Cuban family who owns a private accomodation service in Havana. The website contains information about their service, including online booking.
Just Added! Villa Linda (Calle 14, entre/11 y 13, #114 , Vedado; Tel#: 011-537-30-1238; Contact: Celia Alonso) Centrally located in the Vedado neighborhood of Havana, about a 10 minute walk southwest of the Hotel Riviera. Two apartments available for rent, fully renovated with a full size bed in the bedroom, full size sofa bed in sitting/living area, full kitchen, bathroom, tv, telephone, air-conditioning, combination safe box, private entrance, and access to garden area. Available services include breakfast and laundry. Other meals and car service also available for minimal additional charges. Price: $35/night, breakfast included. Review by Cynthia Alonso.
Blanca and Daniel (Calle Amistad
354, Apt. 6, San Jose (San Martin and Barcelona) Centro Habana; Telephone: 61-7218)
- It's near the Capitol. Two bedrooms, one bath, kitchen. $15. Noisy, very basic,
bring own soap and tp, no ac or heat. Friendly family lives upstairs. Blanca
and Daniel don't speak English. They have an 8 month old baby girl, another
baby due in April 2002, and a 4 year old boy. If someone stays with them, please
take used baby clothes from a 2nd hand store.This is not a licensed place. Review
by Gayle Kimball, Chico, CA.
Barbara Y Eduardo (Calle 25, #18, Apto 1 Marina y hospital, Centro Havana; Telephone: 78-14-92) - O.k., but small with no view. It is near the Malecon and two blocks from La Rampa.
Blanca Miranda Zorrilla (Calle 19, edif. 153, 1er piso e/ L y K, Vedado, Habana; Telephone: 32:2119) Very nice. There are three rooms in a central location in La Rampa area. Private bath and air conditioned. Comes with TV and small fridge.
Casa Karlita (Avenue San Lazaro 1207 Apartment E (third floor) e/ Mazon y Bassarate -- one block from the University of Havana and Colina Hotel; Telephone: 78-3182.) This is a splendid house with air conditioned room and delicious meals made for both breakfast and dinner. A great Cuban meal with drink is available for around $12. If you don't like to go out and eat in restaurants, this might be the perfect place, although the rooms are not very private.
Catalina (Lagunas 115 Manrigue y Campanario; Telephone: 63-8096 or 63-8018). Not great and not horrible -- something in between.
Clara E. Diaz Rodriguez (Calle
L No. 256, Apto 501 (5to Piso Con Ascensor) E/ 17 Y 19, Vedado email:
email@example.com / Telephone: 32-4058). A great landlady but no breakfast served. Very clean rooms and quiet with your own bathroom.
Fernando Amor Brena (Salvador Allende No. 1103 e/ Lucces y Montano Plaza; Telephone: 53-7-79-1893) I ate here and it was the best home cooked meal I have had! It was like eating at El Alijibe -- great chicken, rice, beans, and desert. The good news is that they are converting the two front rooms into a casa particular which will include living room, bedroom, and bathroom -- meals are optional. A very nice place. The rent is $25. 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. Give this place a look; have them call for a taxi before you leave.
Luis Garcia Mirabel, (Calzada No. 15 esq. a M across from the U.S. Interests Section, Telephone: 32-3895) A very nice place, spacious one bedroom with nice bathroom and living room with t.v. and stereo. He also has a studio which is not much of a bargain but you get privacy. Very secure. Meals will also be provided for an additional cost. It is first come first served here and they do not honor reservations -- trust me on this one!
Pipo (Infata #24 y Humboldt y 23, 3er piso, apartment 306; Telephone: 77-88-13) Very small one bedroom that goes for $25. View is of another large apartment complex nearby. The air conditioning is filthy and you risk getting ill by using it. I had a horrible asthma attack here. The problem is that the air conditioner is not outside but located in an abandoned elevator shaft that has millions of warm germs. Beware!
Casa Particulars: Santiago
Jorge A. San Emeterio (Calle M No. 319 e/ 5ta y 7ma; Telephone: 53-226-42371) Jorge is a retired Professor of Marxist Economics. He still believes in Castro's dream and likes to debate the merits of America versus Cuba. He is a lively guy who likes to argue if you want to. The place rents for $20 a night. It is secure but just one room and bathroom. No t.v. or stereo.
Casa Particulars: Trinidad
Fernando Ramirez Garcia (Pais No. 159 Cienfuegos y L. Perez in downtown Trinidad; Telephone: 4325) A very nice place in downtown Trinidad. He is also a great chef close to the town square.