Best Restaurants and Cafes in Old Havana Cuba
So you’ll read that the best food in Old Havana is to be found at the paladares, unofficial restaurants in private homes, which are not endorsed by the government. However, this post will be highlighting non-paladares where you can still get the best food without the high prices and unreliable reservation systems!
We tried to reserve a table at the paladar, La Guarida (where Obama and Beyonce ate), two weeks in advance and received a confirmation email. However, when we arrived at our casa and had our host called just to confirm, they had no record of our reservation! Needless to say, we did not get to eat here, but we turned this loss into a gain because we discovered one of our favorite restaurants in Havana. If you arrive to Havana without any restaurant reservations, fear not! There are plenty of places that you can easily walk into and sit. Here are our best restaurants and cafes in Old Havana Cuba.
1. Dona Eutimia (Our favorite restaurant in Havana!)
You will definitely need a reservation here a couple days in advance! Our tip is to have your casa host call them or you can walk by and make a reservation in person which is what we did. This restaurant is right next to Esto no es un cafe, all the way in the back corner. We ordered the fried croquet as an appetizer, mixed grill with seafood, chicken, and pork, as well as rice and beans. Everything was cooked to perfection and the seasoning was surprisingly done well! We had the BEST rice and beans here. Black beans are typically not our favorite but the black beans here were delicious! We could have asked for seconds but we were so full. They also serve their own unique frozen mojito, which was the second best drink we’ve had in Havana second to the Mango Daiquiri.
2. Esto No Es Un Cafe
This unassuming “cafe” is tucked in an alley right by the plaza with three other restaurants right next door. They serve simple Cuban food during dinner. We had our first Ropa Vieja here and it was delicious! You must get the mango daiquiri here if it is in season. We’ve had many many cocktails and drinks all over the world, but this one tops the list! We got here early at around 6:30 PM and did not have any problems getting a table. However, others coming after us (around 7:30 or later) did were not able to get a table, so either come early or make a reservation a few days in advance!
Lamparilla Tapas & Cervezas
Tucked away in an unassuming street is this cute little place. It’s very hipster and has a funky vibe. There is a sign here that reads, “No wifi, pretend 1995”, which summed up our Cuba experience perfectly! The tapas here are very delicious also. The best thing we had here was the roasted vegetables. It even came with blue cheese (Anna’s favorite!), which is something you wouldn’t expect to find or eat in Cuba. The lobster tail was simple and cooked perfectly.
We also had a mixed tacos plate that was good but not as memorable. The crab dish was actually more like a dip and came with two pieces of bread. It had very good flavor. We found that this place had the most use of spices, such as lots of cumin used on the tacos. This is typically not the case in Cuba, since it’s difficult for chefs to get a variety of spices into the country. We didn’t order any drinks here, but the tables around us had ordered daiquiris and one was probably enough for two people! They were huge!
After dinner one night, we came here to get drinks with our new friends we met at dinner! We had their mojito, cuban libre, and pina colada. All were very strong! The atmosphere is very cozy and perfect for socializing. We were disappointed that they ran out of food when we decided to order some at around midnight when we had the munchies. We were surprised at how long we stayed here, but when you have good company, cozy atmosphere, and great company, it’s easy to lose track of time!
El Chanchullero de Tapas
To find this place, just look for the line outside. We didn’t attempt to make a reservation through our casa hosts, but they did seat a few folks who had reservations before us. We waited close to 45 minutes for a shared table upstairs. Again, we came a bit earlier than 7 PM to try to beat the dinner rush. Once we were seated and ordered, the drinks and food did take a while to get to us, maybe another 30 minutes. The mojitos were classic and strong, and the food was very simple.
There were only four main dishes based on the type of meat. We ordered fish and shirmp. Both came with black beans and cabbage salad. The protein was cooked and seasoned perfectly. We found the portion size for the shrimp to be small, so if you are hungry, we would recommend ordering something else or adding in an appetizer! The decor of this place is very interesting and plays off of a certain political irony. But we will let you go judge for yourself!
This is THE place to go if you want a good cup of coffee or espresso. They have a very nice espresso machine, probably the nicest one we’ve seen in Cuba! They also make their own bread in house for all of their sandwiches, but unfortunately we weren’t able to try any because when we went, they ran out of bread. Instead, we got the breakfast pancake with fresh fruit and honey to share. It was absolutely delightful and was big enough to share for two people. We will definitely come back here and try one of their homemade sandwiches!
Havana Restaurant Pro-tips