Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Popular and Cheap Restaurants
There are thousands of great restaurants in Havana. Walk around for five minutes
and you are sure to find a good one. Despite what some guidebooks might say, the
average quality of food in Havana, especially the authentic Cuban cuisine, is ex-
tremely high. As mentioned before, the core meals consist of rice, beans, chicken
and pork. Despite the simple ingredients, these meals are very flavorful and filling.
The following list includes some of the cheapest restaurants in Havana. These are
locations where you can have a full course, sit down meal for under 5 CUC per
person. You will immediately notice that most of these restaurants are located in
Vedado. The reason is simple; in Vedado, most of the people eating in restaurants
are local Cubans, so the prices are always much lower than restaurants in Old
Havana or Central Havana. Furthermore, many of the restaurants on this list are
state-run. As outlined earlier, these restaurants often sell the same quality of food
you will get at an independent paladar location, but at a much lower cost. Service
is sometimes less refined at state restaurants, but that is not a major concern for
most people. Also note that, while these restaurants are cheap, their menus do in-
clude some fancier and higher priced items as well. I generally recommend select-
ing from table d'hôte ( ofertas ) selections as these options are the most popular,
freshest and cheapest. The ofertas consist of full course meals where there is a
main meat dish, as well as side orders of rice, beans, salad and vianda (starchy
root vegetable like potato or yucca). The meals usually also include a dessert and
a drink.
El Carmelo (23 at the corner of H)
This is probably Vedado's best known, fancy, sit down restaurant - but don't let that
scare you. While the ambiance is upscale, the prices at this state restaurant are
low. All the ofertas are priced at less than 5 CUC. They included a main dish with
your choice of meat, as well as rice, salad and vianda . A drink, either fresh juice or
a beer, and a dessert are also included. Portions at this restaurant are huge. The
bistec de cerdo (fried pork fillet) or the escalopes de cerdo (breaded pork fillet) are
massive and can easily feed two people. On the regular menu, the pizzas are inex-
pensive, but nothing to write home about, and while the lasagna is far from being
authentic Italian, you get a massive serving, weighing almost 2 pounds and costing
only 2.50 CUC. It's easy to see why locals love eating at this restaurant and it will
easily make its way into your dining rotation while in Vedado. The restaurant's
theme is based around Charlie Chaplin and the classic silent movie era. There is
live music on the weekends and even a rather talented Chaplin impersonator, who
greets guests (silently) and provides entertainment. All prices are in CUC.
Castillo de Jagua (23 at the corner of G)
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