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Top 12 restaurants in Havana

Top 12 restaurants in Havana

Havana

When visiting a new city knowing top places to go, restaurants, museums, squares or just some cool spots around can make a difference during your trip and your final memories. No wonder why tons of visitors are always looking around and asking for a proper plate of food. Well, good news for you! We´ll be giving you some hints and showing our finest restaurants in town.

Cuban food isn´t that famous as, for example, Mexican food. We would like to let you notice we don’t do spicy; most people believe we like “hot” plates as we are in a geographic area famous for adding too much pepper to their mains e.g. Jamaica or Mexico. But no, only few Cubans actually like spicy food; it doesn’t mean our food isn’t exciting though. Full of aromas and local products, if you have a weakness for a rice, pork, vegetables or beans then you are in the right place! And a sweet tooth? Welcome to the sweetest homemade desserts island in the globe.

Everyday Cuban food is gaining more international recognition. Joining events, expositions, opening top restaurants with incredible chefs (Michelin’s stars are already working in Cuba), taking to the next level traditional dishes with unique designs and storms of flavours this combination is getting hard to beat these days. With recently opening private restaurants (authorized by the government only few years ago) the quality of our food is increasing by day. Not only great courses to taste but really nice environments; some places still very traditional while others could be placed in a New York rooftop.

So, after this brief summary of our culinary background we’ll give you the best and trendy restaurants to visit in Havana, a list made by popular voting according TripAdvisor and also locals’ experience (who are not an easy target):

1. Habana 61 (Old Havana)
2. Donde Lis Restaurant & Bar (Old Havana)
3. San Cristobal Paladar (Central Havana)
4. 304 O’Reilly (Old Havana)
5. Esto no es un café (Old Havana)
6. Mediterraneo Havana (Vedado town)
7. Nazdarovie (Central Havana)
8. El Litoral (Vedado town)
9. Doña Eutimia (Old Havana)
10. Atelier (Vedado town)
11. Starbien (Vedado town)
12. Café de los Artistas (Old Havana)

Now let me guide you a bit through the list. Some tips but reminding you any of them are incredible good and totally recommended. Number 1, 2, 4 and 9 are top restaurants placed in Old Havana ideal if you are on a day walk in the old town sniffing around; these are the most recognized places to eat, quality is a guarantee in any of them. They mainly offer traditional Cuban food in its best performance; from the basic Malanga puree or roasted pork and Congri (Cuban rice made by black beans) to exquisite combinations of lobster mains and stunning desserts. Our advice is to make a booking before going, they are usually full at midday and nights. These are not cheap treats yet they worth it; more than food you’ll be paying for top services, unique environment, sometimes with live music, a perfect location and most of all an original product.

Habana61Main course at Habana 61 

 

Also in Old Havana you have number 5 and number 12, more value for money spots and stunning quality. The environment here is more relax, places to go to and feel free to spend your very own time, tasting their endless and delicious menu, with a young and very friendly staff advising you. I believe these are the best places to chill out. Also very popular in town here you’ll find out many locals sitting around meeting with friends. Highly recommended, even for some snacks or brunch.

And then some other exciting places like Nazdarovie, a Russian restaurant inspired by those Cubans who went to the Soviet Union to study or work in the 70’s and 80’s and now find a way to remember their food and traditions; a good place to have a nice meal and enjoy a first line view of the Malecon. Also in Malecon first line you have El Litoral, number 8, quite trendy these days and located next to the American Embassy in Havana is famous for the seafood in any of its combinations. And to end San Cristobal Paladar in Central Havana, a very authentic neighborhood in Havana. The food is delivered by one of the best chefs in Cuba, and you must know that even Obama’s family stop by and dine in this place during their visit to the island (a recommendation made by Beyoncé they said).

Esto no es un cafeEsto no es un cafe Restaurant

It makes a difference when you dine in good places during a trip, it brings the best of any country and might let you walk away with a different perception of the country. Don’t miss that opportunity, no when you have so many good places to go!

 

Varadero’s Royalton Hicacos keeps winning awards and word-wide recognition.

Varadero’s Royalton Hicacos keeps winning awards and word-wide recognition.

varadero

Royalton Hicacos resort is been awarded all over the world: from TripAdvisor to Cuban authorities the five stars’ hotel keep winning recognition and prestige and is today is considered one of the best hotels in the Caribbean.

Royalton Hicacos, a premier adults-only hotel from Royalton Luxury Resorts, was awarded the last 27th of October for its superior quality and unique guest experience during an industry event hosted by the Cuban Ministry of Tourism and the Cuban-Canadian Trade and Tourism Union at the world-famous Tropicana Cabaret in Havana.

Awards for the superb hotel keep coming: TripAdvisor awarded the resort located in Varadero with 2016 Certificate of Excellence and the hotel is currently ranked among the top three hotels in all of with 4.5 starts from more than 4000 reviews. But is not only on TripAdvisor where Royalton Hicacos is been noticed, it also listed at the top of a wide number of guest-rated travel online sites in Cuba, which is not an easy achievement in a country with hundreds of all-inclusive hotels. "Royalton Hicacos has been adored by guests for many years and to be awarded by such a reputable agency in Cuba is an honour," said Mohamad Fawzi (Senior Director of Operations of Blue Diamond Resorts in Cuba. "Each member of the staff at this resort is committed to delivering the highest quality of service to valued guests," he added.

royaltonhicacos

This luxurious adults-only resort is a cut above other Varadero hotels with its all-inclusive resort facilities designed to create a perfect ambiance for relaxation bringing guests an authentic oceanfront vacation experience with a superb service, top quality products and an unusual lush greenery. Varadero, located in the western Cuban province of Matanzas, is a little paradise in the Caribbean: over 24 kilometres of gorgeous beaches, natural attractions e.g. caves, virgin keys, exotic flora and fauna, always warm and crystal clear waters are very well complemented by a strong infrastructure able to satisfy almost everyone’s needs.

Blue Diamond Resorts

Barely five years old since the Canadian hotel chain was founded and already has more than 8400 rooms in Cuba split in 15 resorts in the island’s top destinations: Havana, Varadero, Jibacoa, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco and Holguin. Blue Diamond Resorts operates under three main branches covering almost every kind of public: the luxury one is Royalton designed for adults, offering exclusive top quality services on exquisite properties all of them sea front-line. For family holidays e.g. kids, youngers, millennials, elderly people or just groups of friends you’ll find top branches as Memories and Grand Memories, all-inclusive products also on sea front-line, designed for families and friends seeking adventures and fun where quality and good service are guaranteed. Last but not less, there in Starfish, the most economic yet value for money branch of Blue Diamond.

royalton hotels

Latest news!

Today the Canadian hotelier chain is one of the best in Cuba and according statistics it keeps growing and upgrading by day; as they said: “the sky is the limit”. They recently announced the opening of the refurbished Starfish Las Palmas, a hotel located in Varadero’s central core, offering B&B (Bed and Breakfast) services. Plus, an unexpected offer: from November 2016 the top hotel Memories Caribe in Cayo Coco starts offering Only Adults services.

Havana: love it or hate it.

Havana: love it or hate it.

havana

In few days, barely a week, Havana will be celebrating its 497 birthday. Back in the XVI century, on November 16th, 1519 the town of San Cristobal de La Habana was officially founded. Havana is growing older, still having those unmissable signs of naivety though. Artists had always compared the city with a beautiful girl: a free spirit able to disarm you at any time, with a hint of evilness and innocence.

You’ll love it or you’ll hate it. Havana is most of the time a mix of feelings. As a Cuban, born and grown in Havana, I cannot live without complaining about some of many daily issues that goes wrong in my hometown; I cannot explain how much I miss home when abroad, how nostalgic can I be by a Malecon pic or an old Gerardo Alfonso’ song. Is not just me but every single soul that beyond obvious reasons keep a special place for Havana in their hearts. Not to miss it is really hard even for tough cookies. As a friend said once: “This city is like your first love, no matter time you know it’ll still hurt you.”

But time has passed and Havana is not same that 50 years ago or just 15. Streets look the same, perhaps older; people have this twisted look like they want to do something different but then there is a missing piece enable them of actually doing it. Like stopped in time, waiting for a big event, living the uncertain; that’s how many Cubans feel nowadays. Beyond political reasons people is just worried about daily incomes and how just keep living the next 24 hours while the clock is clicking. Here you find the perfect explanation of why so many young educated people are leaving the country: the need more than 24 hours expectative. In the meanwhile, they left entire families trying to keep on track and facing new dilemmas. That’s an average story a Cuban family; but don’t get overwhelmed, sometimes we need the bigger picture.

Eclectic city 

Old Havana

From classic Old Havana, a perfect set of colonial Spanish construction to posh Miramar town, where you’ll find restaurants and places easily placed in NYC, and passing by always fun and awake Vedado area, Havana is quite an eclectic lady. It isn’t just old men playing Guantanamera in Obispo Street (main street in Old Havana) and guys trying to sell you a restaurant’s menu; is not either a playboy girl in high heels ready for fancy drinks at exclusive Vedado’ nightclub or an Engineer student full with projects at school and working in part times jobs to carry on. Havana is a blend. A blend of good and not so good things: water coconut and shot of rum. But here in Havana people just want to live, to enjoy life. You don’t should worry about violence or Islamic bombs. You’ll be in a different dimension where problems are others.

A digital detox? Maybe, but I rather named it a XXI century detox; it will show you a different perspective and if you catch every aspect then you’ll see how invigorating it can be. Far from a Caribbean experience of beaches and sun, you’ll return home with new hopes; hope in a better future because as you’ll learn that’s what keep Cubans on the move. Contact us at www.scuktravel.com we are here to give the best experience in Havana.

The unique town of Gibara in Holguin, Cuba.

The unique town of Gibara in Holguin, Cuba.

gibara

The train line was suspended in 1958, just few months before the Cuban Revolution and the small town seems to be hibernating since. Built during the Spanish-era, the coastal village full of charms, has a unique spirit: original people, breathtaking landscapes, challenging nature and even when still placed in the most revolutionary region of the country, there are not too many slogans or posters reminding the country’s political status. Some can call it an isolated village, others just heaven.

Only 32km from Holguin city and 82 from Guardalavaca, at the end of the highway out of Holguin, where you can get by domestic flight from Havana, Gibara is kind of waiting. Once I heard: “Gibara is one of those special places where geography, meteorology and culture have conspired to create something tempestuous and unique.” And yes, culture is a main subject here. Every year this town hold a special event nationwide: Festival Internacional de Cine Pobre (International Low-Budget Film Festival).

film festival

Your first impressions of the city probably won’t match what I just said before and you won’t be feeling like making any waves. But don’t judge to quick and give it a try, the inner beauty will show eventually. The small town was affected by a powerful hurricane in 2008 and even though time has passed, the city still need generous investments from the government to blossom again.
Forget about luxury, big cities, internet or fancy drinks, yet get into a real but slightly different dimension. I like to think about it as a digital detox time where the real world is crude but it also can be enjoyable. As pretty much everything in life it’s a quid pro quo thing: you won’t have Instagram, the pictures you’ll make will be awesome though; the people sometimes will stare at you which might make you feel weird until you start talking to them and find out we are not that different.

What to do here?

Only compared with Baracoa city for the coastal line, here you have pristine beaches (playas in Spanish) and truly natural gems hidden almost everywhere. We can recommend some spots to go: Playa Caletones, Playa los Bajos, Caverna de Panaderos (Baker’s Cave). History is not the main here, but still you shouldn’t miss some of the Spanish Fortress or the fascinating Saint Fulgence Church, you know what they said: two birds and one stone matter.

Gibara's coasts

Right timing to show up?

April or May, definitely! On April you’ll have the International Low-Budget Film Festival. Latin America's coolest indie film festival draws a global audience every April. This year, more than fifty films were shown at the town's only cinema, the charming Cine Jiba. After hours, bearded intellectuals gather for chats at the Casa de la Cultura, but locals are more drawn to the simultaneous street party, descending on the town by the truckload to enjoy the street food stalls, live comedy and disco dancing. Residents pull rocking chairs out on to the pavement to get a better look.

There are few hotels in town, but private places or “casas” are a valid option. This small village can be more Cuban and original than any other; has a distinctive vibe. There is not point to come to Cuba from so far, and get into a five stars hotel all the time. Go outside, live the street feeling, discover by yourself the truly spirit of the island; you might be surprised!