Best Cuban Restaurants

By Chaz Chambers(Musician, Tour Guide Leader, and Director of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways)

There are many great restaurant options around Havana, Cuba, but these are a few of my favorite. They are all “Paladares,” which means a privately owned restaurant. Cuban food is usually pretty heavy with different meats like pork, beef, and chicken. All the food is typically accompanied with some rice and a savory sauce. Each of the below Cuban restaurants is very diverse, and I think if you try them all, you will get a nice variety of food options during your Cuba trip.

5. El Cocinero

El Cocinero (which means “The Cook” in Spanish) is a lovely and ambient restaurant located near and attached to the famous Fabrica de Arte Cubano. It is in the Vedado neighborhood of La Habana, Cuba. They have two levels of terraces with two different menus. The terrace on the 3rd floor is slightly cheaper while the 2nd floor is a little more expensive. El Cocinero has a nice mix of international cuisine, including different meats such as pork, chicken, seafood, and they also have some vegetarian options. A very cool place to eat and grab some drinks before visiting FAC (Fabrica de Arte Cubano)

Delicious duck at el cocinero in havana cubaPlate with pork loin at el cocinero in Havana, Cubagroup picture eating at el cocinero in havana cuba

4. Plan B

Plan B is a restaurant where most Cubans eat. It is relatively inexpensive at about 3-6 CUC per meal. I love this place because they are usually open 24 hours and they serve traditional Cuban food that is good. If you want to try tamales, Ropa Vieja, Pan Con Lechon, Malanga, Boniato, Pork plates (Masas, Lomo, etc) this is a great place at the right price!

ropa vieja at plan B, a 24 hour restaurant in Havana, Cuba

3. La Guarida

This place was made famous by the movie Fresa y Chocolate. It is located in the same building as where the movie was filmed. It is a beautiful place with a very romantic environment. The food is excellent. They even have one of the top-rated rooftops in Havana. I highly recommend having a cocktail on the rooftop at sunset!

Fresh beef at La Guarida the Paladar in Central Havana, Cuba Upclose picture of food at la guarida in central Havana the stairs going up to la Guarida in central havana, cuba

2. El Del Frente

El Del Frente is located in Old Havana on O’Reilly street. They are one of the most crafty restaurants in Havana. They serve freshly prepared vegetables from a unique, organic farm outside Havana. You won’t find many of these vegetable selections around Cuba. They make a mixture of international cuisine and some attractive Cuban food styles. El Del Frente has some of Havana’s most unique and strongest craft cocktails. Try a mango daiquiri!

close up picture of grilled vegetables at el del frente in old havana, cuba Fresh fish plate at el del frente in old havana cuba craft made cocktails at el del frente in old havana, cuba

1. Atelier

Atelier is the place to go for one of Havana’s best Ropa Vieja plates. In my opinion, of course. I also think they have the best black beans and rice. It is best to order the beans and rice separately and then pour the black beans and their juices over the rice. IT IS AMAZING! Otherwise, most Cuban restaurants serve Morro y Cristianos, black beans, and rice cooked together. I don’t mind this from time to time, but it is drier than the first recommendation. Atelier is also the perfect place if you want to eat some lobster or other great seafood options mixed with other meats, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

A close up shot of a steak entree at atelier in Vedado, havana, cuba

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 How to make an authentic Café Cubano (Cuban Coffee). VLOG 

By Chaz Chambers(Musician, Tour Guide Leader, and Director of Havana Music Tours and Musical Getaways)

Café Cubano (Cuban Coffee) is one thing that pops up every time you think about Cuba. It’s inevitable. Every lover of Cuban Culture should know how to prepare it. That’s why in this article, we will share our favorite recipe with you so you can learn. Let’s make some Café Cubano!

What should you know about Café Cubano or Cubano Coffee?

Cuban coffee is a cultural icon for the island filled with a lot of history. Coffee was first introduced to the island throughout the 1700s by early Spanish colonialists and immigrating slaves of French colonies. Cuban’s way of making coffee has evolved into a unique brewing style, mixing sugar by default and enjoying each cup as small espresso coffee. 

The current way to make a coffee by the hands of a Cuban still resembles a sort of European nature. Historically limited in their luxurious purchasing abilities, they have also lacked many of the fantastic coffee machines we have all around the world. But, possibly against their knowledge, this could be a good thing for their final product.

Cubans traditionally use a “cafetera” (coffee machine in Spanish), but otherwise known as a percolator in English. This unique gadget holds water, coffee, and the finished product in one tea kettle-looking device. Very different than an expresso machine.

How to make an authentic Cafe Cubano (Cuban Coffee)

Instructions for making a Cuban coffee with a Cafetera

To prepare a Cuban Cofee you will need:

  1. Cafetera or percolator for making coffee
  2. Water
  3. Cuban or other espresso coffee beans
  4. Sugar, preferably brown sugar and raw organic
  5. Stovetop or hotplate
  6. 15 minutes
  7. A small cafecito cup or more for your friends

Steps to the perfect Cuban Coffee

  1. Make sure the cafetera is clean.
  2. Fill the bottom portion of the cafetera with water.
  3. Fill the middle filter with Cuban or espresso-style coffee beans.
  4. Place cafetera on a hot stove to begin boiling
  5. After you hear the bubbling and boiling sound, remove the cafetera and place it to cool slightly
  6. Important! Immediately stir sugar into the top portion of the cafetera while it is still hot. 
  7. Let cool if you prefer, or begin to pour cafecitos for you and your friends to enjoy in your expresso cup.

Enjoy this video from Havana Music Tours owner Chaz Chambers demonstrating how to make an authentic Café Cubano.