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Cuba: Havana, Trinidad

e
epicure_ny Dec 19, 2006 03:01 PM

I will be spending Christmas and New Years Eve in Havana this year. I understand that Cuba is not a particularly chow-worthy destination but that said, I would love any suggestions for specific paladares or general food tips while we are there. We'll mostly be in Havana (staying in Vieja), but might do some side trips to Vinales and Trinidad as well.

Thank you -- I promise to post reviews when I return since there do not appear to be any recent posts on this topic.

  1. s
    serious Dec 19, 2006 03:06 PM

    It's some time since I was in Cuba but the good paladare list is ever changing and good tips will come from asking around while there. The food can be very good and the ice cream is excellent.

    1. m
      marlie202 Dec 20, 2006 05:22 PM

      in Trinidad local restaurants are good-especially for breakfast--smoked herring in roast bake-flying fish sandwich in fried bake bread-salt fish in homemade bread--these really rock--other local foods include roti-chicken,beef or goat-tasty--Hot Shoppes have a nice variety of veggie rotis with mango-fresh juices, fresh coconut water--Veni Mange in town Port of Spain or close to town(I believe-look it up) is quite good for a bit more upscale dining--and if you like chicken and chips well--they have them there and taste better than here-at the Queen's Park Savanah at nite you can get great corn soup with coconut milk--enjoy-

      1. phelana Dec 20, 2006 05:47 PM

        Marlie, I think he means Trinidad Cuba. Man, I love roti, don't you??

        1. m
          marlie202 Mar 6, 2007 02:26 PM

          how was your trip??and how was the food????

          8 Replies
          1. re: marlie202
            e
            epicure_ny Oct 23, 2007 12:56 PM

            Sorry to reply so much later, but I figure tips are always welcome.

            I had a wonderful trip to Cuba but the food was generally mediocre. We did make an effort to eat at paladars and these were universally better than our meals at hotels. Also, they have considerably more charm. It is difficult to get much in the way of fresh vegetables or fruit but the pork is plentiful and we had some decent seafood too.

            The paladars constantly change, so ask locals (we stayed in a casa particular so got some advice on local spots from the people in our house). We did visit a few of the well-known paladars and I would recommend the following:
            La Guarida
            La Esperanza
            Paladar La Julia
            El Huron Azul

            1. re: epicure_ny
              e
              epicure_ny Oct 23, 2007 02:23 PM

              To clarify, these are all in Havana.

              1. re: epicure_ny
                n
                Nyleve Nov 6, 2007 11:54 AM

                Just got back from 2 weeks in Cuba. What we found was that the very best food - by far - was served at casas particulares. Except for the first 3 days, we stayed exclusively in these private homes and ate incredibly well for very little money. Because of the ridiculous government restrictions, they can't feed you if you're not staying at the casa so there is no way you can eat at one if you are at a hotel. In the morning we would arrange to have dinner - they were usually flexible as to the time, and offered us a choice of main dishes. We ate chicken, pork, fish, shrimp and lobster on various nights. It was always more food than we could possibly consume - including rice, beans, salad, fried bananas or malanga, fruit for dessert. Any drinks (beer, Cuban (!) wine, mojitos, water, etc.) were extra. Dinner usually ran between 8 and 10 cuc (about the same in dollars) per person. Breakfasts usually ran around 3 cuc and included bread, eggs, fruit, jam, cheese, ham, fresh juice, killer coffee and whatever else they could dig up.

                If I were to recommend non-casa meals, in Havana we liked a restaurant called Asturianitos - almost directly across the Prado from the Capitolio. There are 2 related restaurants in the building - both upstairs. The other one is called Los Nardos and is fancier and more expensive but not better. A paladar we liked was El Fenix at Animas #273, between Aguila and Amistad. Take a cab there and back - the neighbourhood is a bit rough.

                1. re: epicure_ny
                  streetgourmetla Nov 30, 2007 09:18 AM

                  No fresh fruit in Cuba?Are you serious?Huron Azul serves an abundant plate of fresh mango,guava, star fruit,fruta de la bomba and much more before the main course comes out.I had the best fruit experiences of my life in Cuba and Brazil.They had these little mangos at my casa particular that were to die for.

                  Anyone tried the roast chicken at El Aljibe?Incredible!

                  1. re: streetgourmetla
                    l
                    luci Dec 1, 2007 04:50 AM

                    my friend is just back from Cuba and said unless people live in the country, fresh fruit is hard to get and there are NO overweight people in Havana..she said some are really hungry..she lost weight on her trip..love the people and the sites but..she is German and flew from another island.

                    1. re: luci
                      n
                      Nyleve Dec 1, 2007 10:06 AM

                      We returned from Cuba a few weeks ago and, as I said in my earlier post, the food was good and plentiful. Staying in private casas, we ate very well - and there was a lot of fruit. Because Cuba is agriculturally self-sufficient, there is not a lot of imported food so fruit is very seasonal. In October pineapples, guavas, bananas and papayas were abundant. The pineapples were the best I've ever tasted anywhere. I think your experience would depend very much on where you find yourself eating. In a restaurant, I'm not sure you'd eat as well. But in the private homes, it's a whole other thing.

                      1. re: luci
                        TSQ75 Dec 28, 2007 06:58 AM

                        ah...the rationing system. lovely, isnt it?

                        1. re: luci
                          streetgourmetla May 19, 2008 03:17 PM

                          A little late getting back to you, but my experiences were all in Habana, Miramar,centro, Habana Vieja, and Vedado. The families I stayed with had cars, and lived in regular, nice places;they seemed like middle class Americans and had good jobs.Very educated and friendly families in both cases.

                          A family of musicians that were my contacts there put on an amazing spread the day before I returned to the US, also including this sinfully good fruit.

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