TEN(+) GREAT PALADARES OF HAVANA, CUBA … · TEN(+) GREAT PALADARES OF HAVANA, CUBA – Quality,...

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TEN(+) GREAT PALADARES OF HAVANA, CUBA – Quality, Creative, and Inexpensive By Peter Ryan, sv Onapua One of the greatest things about visiting Cuba is the food, so we set out to explore the best casual dining, bars, and watering holes Havana had to offer. There are generally three kinds of places to dine in Havana. First is the upscale, state-run restaurant catering primarily to tourists. These are located in areas typically frequented by tourists such as near the waterfront or on popular plazas. Prices are usually in CUC$ or "kooks". The second type, found all over Havana, is the sit-down restaurant known as a “paladar”. These are private businesses, owned by Cubans, mostly located in their homes, and cater to both tourists and locals. Prices might be in CUC$ or in CUP$s (pesos). Third is the "cafeteria" found typically on street corners where you sit or stand while resting your food and eating any way you can. Menu prices for all typically appear in either CUC$s or pesos. Here is an example of a menu in cuc – a bit pricier but upscale – entree’s only $10-$12 (US equiv.). Cubans are very particular about their food. The quality of cuisine offered at paladares is as good as, if not better than that at state-run restaurants at a fraction of the price. Meals at paladares are generally less varied, salted and seasoned more, and fewer vegetarian options. We enjoyed the experience and benefits of eating locally-sourced, seasonal, organic food as opposed to food flown in from halfway around the world. Havana has a sprawling population of 2 million people. There are more than 1,000 places people can dine. Google and Trip Advisor have a lot of these places catalogued. It is a good idea to use these resources and plan your dining itinerary keeping diversity, walkability, and proximity in mind to minimize travel time and taxi fares.

Transcript of TEN(+) GREAT PALADARES OF HAVANA, CUBA … · TEN(+) GREAT PALADARES OF HAVANA, CUBA – Quality,...

Page 1: TEN(+) GREAT PALADARES OF HAVANA, CUBA … · TEN(+) GREAT PALADARES OF HAVANA, CUBA – Quality, Creative, and Inexpensive By Peter Ryan, sv Onapua One of the greatest things about

TEN(+) GREAT PALADARES OF HAVANA, CUBA – Quality, Creative, and Inexpensive

By Peter Ryan, sv Onapua

One of the greatest things about visiting Cuba is the food, so we set out to explore the best casual dining, bars, and watering holes Havana had to offer. There are generally three kinds of places to dine in Havana. First is the upscale, state-run restaurant catering primarily to tourists. These are located in areas typically frequented by tourists such as near the waterfront or on popular plazas. Prices are usually in CUC$ or "kooks". The second type, found all over Havana, is the sit-down restaurant known as a “paladar”. These are private businesses,

owned by Cubans, mostly located in their homes, and cater to both tourists and locals. Prices might be in CUC$ or in CUP$s (pesos). Third is the "cafeteria" found typically on street corners where you sit or stand while resting your food and eating any way you can. Menu prices for all typically appear in either CUC$s or pesos. Here is an example of a menu in cuc – a bit pricier but upscale – entree’s only $10-$12 (US equiv.).

Cubans are very particular about their food. The quality of cuisine offered at paladares is as good as, if not better than that at state-run restaurants at a fraction of the price. Meals at paladares are generally less varied, salted and seasoned more, and fewer vegetarian options. We enjoyed the experience and benefits of eating locally-sourced, seasonal, organic food as opposed to food flown in from halfway around the world. Havana has a sprawling population of 2 million people. There are more than 1,000 places people can dine. Google and Trip Advisor have a lot of these places catalogued. It is a good idea to use these resources and plan your dining itinerary keeping diversity, walkability, and proximity in mind to minimize travel time and taxi fares.

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Other dining tips to keep in mind – first and foremost, eat local. There are hidden gems in every corner of the city where you will find top-rated cooking, ambiance, and service second to none. Look for places that have crowded seating or long lines. These are good indicators the food is good or even exceptional. Be adventurous. That vegetable you never heard of might be tastier than regular rice and beans. We explored Havana for two weeks, visiting paladares that offer Cuban or Caribbean fare and selecting ones that looked a cut above the rest. There were too many to confidently create a 10 Best list; however, we selected 11, in addition to one cafeteria and an ice cream parlor worth a visit. We are certain yu will enjoy these. Santy’s 240A E/3raC y Rio, Havana, Noon - 4pm & 8pm - Midnight Notes: This excellent paladar, within walking distance of Marina Hemingway, did not have a menu, instead serving only locally sourced seafood. It is not easy to find and is sometimes crowded, but the service is excellent. It was a fun shack overlooking a small fishing harbor. The sushi and ceviche were to die for.

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LA VICARIA Cafe Sibony At Lat/Lon 23.088, -82.468 Three kilometers east of Marina Hemingway on 5th Avenue. Notes: We included this ex-cooking school because it was so good even though it is a government-run restaurant and not really a paladar. Excellent ambiance. The service is great, there is a wide variety of menu choices, and presentation is top notch. As with most Caribbean food, it was quite salty, but the prices were very reasonable.

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Artechef Calle 3ra. y A, Vedado. Artechef produces television programs about cooking, and even though it is not really casual dining, it is worth a mention. Notes: Very peaceful, huge servings, delicious, elegant, great service, English speaking, ambiance upscale, and the food had an outstanding taste. We enjoyed very good mojitos, a traditional Cuban highball.

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And last but not least is the ice cream parlor. Coppelia is one of the more popular chains where 4 people can enjoy 2 scoops with cookies for around 40 cents. There was a 15-minute wait to take our order.

This place held at least 200 people.

(Input to this paper was provided by: svRita T: Paddy and Hannah O’Donnell, and crew Bill Mitman and Cathy Wilson)