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large, colonial mansion which has been completely restored, so the atmosphere
is very classy. On a final note, while the main restaurant occupies the first floor of
the mansion, there is also another section of the restaurant located on the rooftop
terrace. This area is slightly less upscale but has the advantage of being airy and
fresh, even on the hottest Havana nights.
PioPio (23 at the corner of 12)
This is not exactly a restaurant, but rather a large, open air, state-run cafeteria. It
is located just across the street from the aforementioned Cinecittà restaurant. The
cafeteria is large and clean and there are seats all around the counter. The cafet-
eria operates 24 hours a day and is extremely popular with locals, especially the
after party crowd. Meals are cheap and everything is priced in Moneda Nacional.
Dishes are served with either pork or chicken, surrounded by Cuban fried rice, a
cucumber salad and a portion of vianda . Most meals cost only 25 pesos. Drinks
are sold separately, at state prices. In addition to the usual brands of beer, this
cafeteria also sells some brands bottled by provincial brewers, sold under the
names Tinima and Bruja . Foreigners rarely get the opportunity to try these beers,
so if you are in this location, I suggest you at least have a taste. They only cost 10
pesos per bottle. Being a cafeteria, you can also buy a wide variety of other
goods at this location, such as bottles of rum, tobacco products, matches and
Artechef (Calle 3 at the corner of A)
This state-run restaurant is located just a few blocks away from the Malecon and
both the Melia Cohiba and the Riviera hotels. In my opinion, it is one of Havana's
best-kept secrets. This establishment looks very upscale, with a formally dressed
staff and elegantly set tables, but the prices, in relation to the quality of food you
will receive, are rock bottom. Daily specials are advertised in the window and
prices range from 3 to 4 CUC per meal. Everything is priced in CUC. Unlike most
of the other restaurants in this list, the table d'hôte meals here do not include an
alcoholic beverage, but rather a freshly squeezed juice. The thing that really sep-
arates this restaurant from all the others is that, in addition to being a restaurant, it
is also a culinary school. The school teaches modern cooking practices and al-
lows the students a degree of artistic freedom when preparing the plates. The
meats are cut, prepared and presented differently from most other restaurants in
Cuba. Dishes arrive at your table looking like they are ready for a magazine cover
photo. Meals are properly seasoned, have rich sauces, and food portions are sat-
isfying without being overwhelming. In all my trips to Cuba, this is the best loca-
tion I have found to get modern, high end, Cuban food at a very reasonable price.
La Kasalta (Corner of Calle 2 and Ave 5ta, in Miramar)
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