Havana eating

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© Lonely Planet Publications


Habana Vieja
Centro Habana
Playa & Marianao
Eastern Habana
Outer Habana


Habana is not renowned for its cuisine and, although the food here isn’t universally awful,
don’t bank on it being a highlight of your trip. Fifty years of austerity, rationing and on-off
food shortages has left most of the city’s state-controlled restaurants stumped for ingredients and starved of creativity. And, with a lack of any real incentive to perform, the service
often isn’t that much better.
There are, of course, some welcome exceptions to this rule. Habana Vieja has a growing clutch of attractive government-run restaurants set up by the City Historian’s Office,
Habaguanex, with the palates of foreign visitors in mind, while Playa and Vedado boast a
plethora of inviting and gastronomically adventurous paladares (privately run restaurants;
p124). If you want to excite your taste buds and try something a bit different, these are
the places to head.
See p17 for information about food in Habana.

Opening Hours
How Much

Vieja makes up for in wonderfully atmospheric and meticulously restored government-run restaurants. Housed in old
colonial buildings and offering such (relatively) adventurous culinary alternatives as
pasta, pizza and Moroccan tagine, these
places have an ambience that is is invariably excellent, even if the food isn’t quite
cordon bleu standard.

Booking Tables

Booking tables is only necessary in the evenings at the more popular paladares where space
is limited. Reservations are recommended at Paladar La Guarida (p118) in Centro Habana,
Paladar El Hurón Azul (p121) and Paladar Gringo Viejo (p121) in Vedado, and any of the
half-dozen or so paladares in Playa and Miramar.


Remembering to tip is important in Cuba where leaving a couple of convertibles in the bread
basket at the end of the meal can effectively make or break a person’s week. As most Cubans
earn their salaries (the equivalent of US$10 to US$25 a month) in Cuban pesos, access to hard
currency is vital in order to make up the shortfall. However mediocre your food, a convertible
or two isn’t just a show of appreciation; it’s a vital contribution to the local economy.
In Cuba, a 10% tip is usually sufficient, with CUC$1 being the appropriate minimum in
a restaurant that accepts convertibles. Tipping in peso restaurants is not compulsory, but is
greatly appreciated. Leaving 10 pesos or CUC$0.50 in convertibles is a generous tip...
Habana Vieja 111
Centro Habana 116
Vedado 118
Playa & Marianao 122
Eastern Habana 126
Outer Habana 127
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