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Travel bucket list idea:

Dine at a paladar

  • Havana, Cuba

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 31 March, 2024

The best way to experience Cuban cuisine, international dishes, and hospitality is to eat at a paladar – a private restaurant run by Cuban entrepreneurs. Hundreds of such private restaurants (paladares) have opened in the last 2 decades years across Havana.

Initially restricted to mom-and-pop outfits – in private homes and limited to only 12 chairs, a recent relaxation of the rules has seen these small-scale restaurants expand to fill entire homes (e.g. Otra Manera) or open in dedicated venues.

On the menu you’ll now find simple and elaborate seafood dishes, ropa vieja (shredded beef or pork and veg in a tomato-based sauce), roasted suckling pig, Cuba-made goats’ cheese, chicken Kiev (in the one Russian paladar) and Chinese dumplings (made by a Tianjin chef).

Who to go with: tour operators

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Grados

  • Havana, Cuba

Grados

Experience

Raulito Bazuka’s old-school paladar format is updated by the smart surrounds and the wonderful food – Cuban and international flavours. Raulito was mentored by chefs at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain.

Adult price: 15+

Good for age: 18+

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Hecho en Casa

  • Havana, Cuba

Hecho en Casa

Experience

Glorious home-made Cuban food using organic veg by one of Havana’s leading female chefs. This small casa spot is a great find for vegans and vegetarians, too.

Adult price: 15+

Good for age: 18+

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La Guarida

  • Havana, Cuba

Paladar La Guarida Restaurant staircase. The name La Guarida means means the Hideout. Teh restaurant is located on the third floor of the historic building.

Experience

Emerging out of the tattered shell of a handsome mansion is Havana’s most famous restaurant. (It starred in a well-known Cuban movie). Come for the building, food, ambience, and drinks on the rooftop terrace.

Adult price: 15+

Good for age: 18+

Website >

Otramanera

  • Havana, Cuba

Otramanera

Experience

Havana’s best fine dining experience. Mediterranean dishes with a light Cuban touch are served up in a minimalist space fashioned out of a modernist mansion.

Adult price: 15+

Good for age: 18+

Website >

Logistics

Price from: £15+
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The standard of paladars varies widely, so it is important to get a recommendation. Cuba works on a system of tips so your tour guide, B&B or hotel may make a recommendation based on commission rather than quality; better to source information from online guides, travel articles, and locals. (Editor: better still, see Claire’s below).

The best ones must be booked in advance to avoid disappointment – especially for dinner. In very high season – such as Christmas, Easter, or during festivals, book for the lunch period, too.

BYO bottle doesn’t exist in Cuba. Instead, you’ll be offered everything from bottled water to fruit juice, canned sodas, and a dazzling array of Cuban rum cocktails. Imported wine is available with considerable mark up, too. ‘Cuban wine’ is cheap French table wine bottled on the island.