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Danielle

Havana & Cuba

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We'll be mostly in Havana and Trinidad in Feb. 2003. I've heard that Cuban food is quite tasty: I am only familiar what Cuban restaurants in NYC offer, and I love it. Can anyone make recommendations? I can hardly wait! :raz::wub:

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I was in Havana earlier this year and the food isn't great, due to a few reasons, politics being one of them. That said we had a great time and its a fascinating place.

Here are some notes I sent to a friend who is going soon:

 

La Guardia- (Centro Habana) – it’s best to make a reservation here as its pretty popular(it was featured in the film, Fresca and Chocolate). They have a real kitchen and turn out some tasty fare. I had Lamb with mint and a side of Potatoes with Mushrooms and onions. My girlfriend had the swordfish really tasty, really meaty. Had a Nice bottle of French Chard to go with the meal. The place on the third floor of a large dilapidated mansion. Entrees ran about 12 dollars each and the wine was 30 dollars.

 

L’Amore (Vedado)- This is a nice romantic spot. Wedgewood china, proper silverware, I had the roast pork with Moro’s and Christianio’s. Food was good, but the atmosphere makes the place. Entrees ran about 10 bucks a piece

 

Copellia- (Vedado)This is an Ice Cream "Parlor" on La Rampa where you get four scoops of great ice cream for a dollar. It's a pretty popular spot with everybody. There's a good reason why.

 

El Bodeguita del Media-(Havana Vieja) . Lots of tourists,and they serve food which looks passable.be sure to write your name on the wall. everybody else has. nice mojito’s , great music

 

Hotel Mundial (Old Habana)–This is where Hemingway wrote "A Farewell to Arms". Definitely get up to the roof deck for a drink. You could easily kill an afternoon up here knocking back some delicious mojito’s.

 

Mario’s House-(near the Belle Arts Museum-. Well all I know is I asked a guy at a store where we could get a bite to eat and we ended up sitting in this guy Mario’s living room (with his grandma) debating over what we wanted to have. I asked what was fresh and he said everything. We ended up ordering Marisco’s (Shrimp) and he sat us in his Dining Room. Only to return a good while later with some Creole style shrimp. Homemade Red Beans and Rice. The food was pretty good. Nothing extraordinary, just some genuine home cooking. He did a whole lot of talking about the current situation there and overcharged us at 40 bucks for the whole meal. But the way I see it he needed the money worse than we did so we were glad to pay for the experience. Oh! Had a couple of beers with the meal. Cuba’s Cristal, which I will go on record as saying it’s the worst beer I’ve ever had. Over-carbonated , not good trait in a beer.

the Belle Arts Museum- this is a solid collection of some cuban art! worth walking through

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I have heard that some of the best meals are to be had in people's homes. I'm unclear as to whether these places operate on an official basis or if you have to know someone to find out about them. My suspicion is that there are both legal and illegal paladares and that it's worth asking around. You may get a good tip or you may just get to eat at your taxi driver's sister's place and she may be a lousy cook. Travel is always an adventure. I had no trouble finding Jason's link in the other thread. This worked for me: http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/Afici...avel/fh699.html.

I will see if I can squeeze some information from a regular visitor to Cuba when I next see him. It may not be until next month, but I don't suppose these are places one can reserve far in advance from the US with a credit card.


Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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"I will see if I can squeeze some information from a regular visitor to Cuba when I next see him. It may not be until next month, but I don't suppose these are places one can reserve far in advance from the US with a credit card. "

I'm sure Robert was saying this tongue and cheek, but to my knowledge you can't use a US based credit card or ATM card in Cuba. I carried Cash.

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Not sure if anyone can help but am off to Cuba in the new year and would like some reccomendations on where to eat? I have already visited cuba once and know the cuisine but wondered if anyone could point vme in the right direction?


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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We were just in Cuba in October and mostly ate quite well (at the lower end of the price scale, though). Most of the time we stayed in casas particulares (private homes) and they fed us - actually had some of our best meals there. For $10 per person they will pull out all the stops - lobster prepared two ways, salads, rice and beans, beautiful fruit - the works. In restaurants it was more hit and miss. However, I can recommend one place in Havana. Actually it's two places, but they're both working out of the same kitchen, with one upstairs from the other. The more elegant of the two is called Los Nardos and it's right on the Prado almost directly opposite the Capitolio (a bit toward the Saratoga Hotel). The other one is upstairs from Los Nardos and it's called Asturianitos. More casual decor, slightly lower prices, and we actually found it more enjoyable. Either one is excellent. These were recommended to us by the woman in whose home we stayed in Havana - she says it's the only restaurant she would go to herself. There is always a line up outside the door at street level - and everyone is Cuban. We saw no tourists.

I know that La Guarida (or something like that) is supposed to be excellent as well, but we just ran out of time to try it.

Paladars were very much hit and miss. Some were pretty good, others were just ok. I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend any of the ones we ate at, but if you look around you may find a gem. You never know.

Have a wonderful trip. We loved loved loved Cuba.

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thanks Nyleve, that sounds great - does anyone else have any suggestions?


Edited by nikkib (log)

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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This board might be quiet because us American's are not allowed to go to Cuba ( well, we can go, we just can't fly out of the US, no commerical flights). I live in Canada now, and everyone around here goes to Cuba in the winter. My MIL is going on Friday, but I think she is buying an all inclusive package.

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ok so i thought i would post on my favourites in case anyone is heading to Havana anytime soon as i had some really great meals there, far improved from a previous visit 10 years ago. We stayed at the Hotel saratoga in Centro Habana just across from The Capitolio (based on the designs of The Capital in Washington as its name suggests) whilst we didn't actually eat there it had a couple of restaurants - one tapas bar and one restaurant that both looked very nice. The first night we ate at la Bodeguita del medio one of ernest hemingways old haunts and one of Havanas most famous restaurants. Despite fearing that it would be a tourist trap we had a very good meal - traditional Cuban smoked pork loin, whole prawns in tomato salsa etc served with black beans and rice washed down with a bottle of Cuban wine (actually pretty decent - like a spanish viura) but i gather they can be pretty hit and miss.. Cocktails at another Hemingway favourite - La Floridita were great. Proudly declaring it was "la cuna del daiquiri" (cradle or birthplace) i was again not expecting much but was pleasantly surprised. Cocktails were obviously twice the price of anywhere else but well made and the bartenders take a real pride in their job, we didn't actually hear anyone else speaking english - seemed to be filled with south americans and Lots of smoke - everyone seems to smoke in cuba and everywhere! The papa hemingway was a classic combination of rum, grapefruit and i think cointreau - and boy was it strong - you have been warned! Daiquiuris as expected were great! There is a life sized statue of hemingway too, propping the bar up, book by his side. we didn't eat here - it looked pricy too.. Lunch at El Patio in Plaza Viejas was a beautiful setting but the food was not great. My Marlin steak was pleasant enough but the squid and "monkfish" were tough and tatseless however the beef stuffed with a local cheese was great. The local beers seem to be Cristal - a lighter lager (still around 5%) with good flavour or Buccanero fuerte which was a darker beer and a bit stronger. The chocolate museum (in the guide books) had great handmade chocolates and either a classic or "aztec" style (spiced) hot chocolate as well as iced chocolate drinks but is actually more of a cafe with a couple of pictures on the walls so don't go expecting a big tour! El Templete (Avenida del Puerto, esquina Narciso Lopez, run by a Basque chef and said to be one of Havanas best restaurants was a definate highlight - generous portions of chipperones (deep fried baby squid) and seafood plates with prawns, lobster, marlin etc The Steak was also delicious - perfectly cooked and presented too. It is nice sitting outside the hotel inglaterra too and having a cigar and cocktail overlooking the square lsitening to traditional cuban music Those are the only ones i can remeber i'm afraid but hope they are useful to anyone else planning a trip to Havana.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Going to Cuba next week. Anything new on the restaurant front? I believe the post above is still current, but are the others from 2002 still good? Any "Paladar" recommendation?

Thanks.


Just trying to eat some good food and learn in the process with all the well versed foodies here. Please don't hold me too accountable for my so personal opinions! :)

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I am heading to Cuba in the near future and wondered if anyone had been and had more recent experiences or recommendations. Thanks in advance. 

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