Food in Cuba (and during any vacation really) is one of the highlights. I ate at all the restaurants below and highly recommend them all.
Avenue 3 and Calle 60
Although this was the most expensive dinner we went to on the island it was also the best. (Small aside - I use the term expensive in that it is expensive when compared to other restaurants in Cuba – I live in NYC, these prices here would be considered affordable in most restaurants here. Mains were between $10-18.) This is a private restaurant (i.e. not government run) and the 60 references it being on Calle 60 and also the 1960s advertisements used everywhere as décor. International as well as traditional Cuban is available. A live band plays as you dine. If you don’t make a reservation come early and drink some mojitios while you cross your fingers that a table becomes available.
Ave 1 and Calle 40
One of the better government run restaurants in Varadero. The portions are large and cheap and everything is flavored very well. Mains start at $4 and come with meat, rice, beans, salad, fried bananas and a coffee. Their house special, lobster with chicken and pork is an inexpensive $12.95
La Bodeguita del Medio
A “chain” in Cuba (with locations in Mexico, Costa Rica and across Europe) it claims to be the birthplace of the mojito but that is heavily disputed. Either way the blue bar is covered top to bottom in sharpie signatures and has had some pretty famous clientele including Salvador Allende, the poet Pablo Neruda, the artist Josignacio and (supposedly) Ernest Hemingway. The original is in Havana but the Varadero one was quite delicious with live music during our meal. Mains were fairly priced about $8-11.
One of the newest in the exploding scene of privately owned restaurants that are opening in Havana. A neon sign greets you and the inside wall reads Tapas and Cervezas and both are ridiculously delicious. The inside has a great hipster vibe that made me feel as if I was back in Brooklyn but the food was surprisingly authentic. Highly recommend the ceviche, probably the best I’ve ever had. Tapas are between $2-12.
While the food is nothing to write home about the atmosphere is captivating inside the small corner restaurant. It was our favorite place in the morning grab a coffee and fresh juice of the day. Or at night to grab a mojito or a flan – ok usually a flan. Extremely cheap (nothing over $7) and reliable.
A beautiful Paladar (privately owned restaurant) on the top floor of a gorgeous (but crumbling) building in Central Havana. It has a rich history being the location for the movie fresa y chocolate. The food is one of the best meals you will have. Don’t expect to get in without a reservation.
The name is also the address, which isn’t very creative, but the food is. The drinks are even better. A nice stop if you are looking for something different than typical Cuban fare. The inside, split between two level, has a surprisingly modern vibe and makes great use of the small space. Their salsa was such a hit we bought a jar to bring back with us to the states.
A rooftop completely open air restaurant in Vedado that is situated next to the Fabrica del Arte Cubano. If you are in visiting the area I highly recommend it but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. Mains between $5-15
Ah the famous La Floridita. Home of the daiquiri and made even more famous by Hemingway, who loved hanging out here. They even have a statue of him in the corner. If you are going on any sort of Hemingway tour you will undoubtedly come here. If there are no Hemingway tours in your future stick your head in and decide for yourself if the crowds are worth a drink. We lucked into a table in the corner (after our second try) and enjoyed an hour sipping a (hard to get) daiquiri while people watching.