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While I’ve already covered some great drinking spots in Havana Vieja, I also visited a couple of fantastic restaurants when I was visiting the city.
Cuba has a reputation for not having great food, but this is changing. It’s becoming easier for chefs to get quality ingredients to make both traditional and new Cuban dishes. Couple this with the growing opportunity for private citizens to open restaurants, which are called paladares, and there is a growing culinary scene in Havana.
Great restaurants in Havana Vieja, Cuba
My two favorite restaurants in Havana Vieja were Habana 61 (which was so good I went to it twice) and Paladar Doña Eutimia.
Habana 61 is located in the northern part of Havana Vieja near El Museo de La Revolucion and Santo Angel Church. The address is 61 Habana, which you may have guessed.
Habana 61 serves traditional Cuban dishes as well as more modern dishes. They specialize in seafood. All of the food is of excellent quality, and the prices are fantastic as well. Plus, they make great drinks.
On my first visit to Habana 61, I had ceviche, then the grilled lobster tail, which was topped with a bit of fresh tropical fruit, and came with rice and beans. The lobster was grilled perfectly and was only 10 CUC ($10 USD). I’m not even usually a huge fan of beans, but the beans at Habana 61 were phenomenal.
The second time I visited Habana 61, I had camarones a la criolla (shrimp creole). It was a simple dish of shrimp in tomato sauce, and it too was fantastic. This time I had fried plantains with it.
The service was excellent, and it’s a restaurant that shows off how Cuba’s cuisine is evolving.
I could have easily eaten at Habana 61 for every meal, but I wanted to go to other restaurants as well. Still I broke my general rule of only going to a restaurant once per trip by having dinner there on both my first and last nights in Havana.
Paladar Doña Eutimia
Named for the woman who mastered the dishes served there, Paladar Doña Eutimia is the place to go in Havana for traditional Cuban meals. Its popularity means you might not be able to just walk up and get a table, but I was lucky enough to do so.
I opted for ropa vieja, the classic Cuban dish of shredded meat in a tomato-based sauce that is filled with garlic and spices. At Doña Eutimia, it is made with lamb, but it is often also made with beef. The ropa vieja was served with rice & beans, as is the norm, and I washed it down with a mojito.
Paladar Doña Eutimia is located in an alley off of San Ignacio, around the corner from La Bodeguita del Medio. Make sure that you walk all the way to the back of the alley. There is another restaurant at the beginning of the alley that has guys who try to siphon off some of Doña Eutimia’s business.
These are just two of the many excellent restaurants in Havana. With the paladar concept being so new & tourist numbers skyrocketing, there will be more great restaurants opening soon.
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