Travelogue – Havana, Cuba – Where To Eat?

The food in Cuba we found to be very hit or miss.  As we researched and asked around, the same few restaurants rose to the top of recommendations.  Unfortunately we found little to be “outstanding” but did have a few good meals.  Few restaurants have actual websites, we made several reservations over the phone or through Facebook.  
Le Chansonnier – French inspired in a beautiful old mansion, we ate here our first night in Havana.  We were one of only 3 tables in the entire restaurant so it was a little quiet and felt a bit stuffy.  Food was ok, mojitos were large and strong!       

La Guarida – any guidebook or prior visitor to Havana will probably mention this restaurant.  It was one of the first Paladar’s (restaurants privately owned vs. government) and was made famous in the only Cuban film to be nominated for an Oscar, Fresa y Chocolate.  The setting was gorgeous and this was our best meal in Havana by far.  So good that we actually came back on our last night and ate on the rooftop where they serve a smaller bar menu (get the chicken!).  
Allll the desserts at La Guarida

Drinks and food with a view at La Guarida

304 O’Reilly – multiple people told me this was their favorite meal/restaurant in Havana, unfortunately I can’t say the same.  I think we went too late. by the time we sat down for our 8pm reservation almost everything we wanted they were out of.  I do highly recommend their sister restaurant across the street for ginormous gin and tonics on a beautiful roof.      
While no one recommended 5 Esquinas, we happened to stumble upon it our first afternoon in Havana and decided to sit down for a drink because of the adorable courtyard setting.  We accidentally ordered a 5 cheese pizza instead of what we thought was a 5 cheese plate but the pizza turned out to be so good that we came back for a snack on our last day.  Giant salads and casual “non-Cuban” food all looked really good as well.  
Another recommendation from multiple sources was Dona Eutimia.  We snuck in for lunch and were overwhelmingly disappointed when we were informed that the main thing we were told to get there (ropa vieja) they were out of.  We decided to have a snack and ordered frozen mojitos and garlic shrimp.  All 4 of us got sick within an hour of eating so if you do try it, do so at your own risk (and be sure to make a reservation as it was really crowded)! 
In a quest to find authentic “Cuban sandwiches” our walking tour guide pointed us to La Bien Paga.  Turns out, Cubans don’t really eat Cuban sandwiches as we know them (not nearly enough pickles or mustard), but this place did have large sandwiches for $2+ if you’re looking for a quick, cheap eat.

On our last morning we had breakfast at Dandy which was really great.  The banana bread muffins were delicious!
Other recommendations that we didn’t get to:  Vanvan, Rio Mar, Cafe Escorial for supposedly the best Cuban coffee, Hotel Ambos Mundos for rooftop drinks. and El Chanchullero.

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