Top 5 Restaurants in Cuba's Havana
El Cocinero Restaurant in Havana
AUTHENTIC. WELCOMING. HEAVENLY FOOD
Colours, culture and cobbled streets; howling salsa, romantic architecture, layers of vast fields and sea. The mesmerising beauty of Havana is one would we could adjectively describe with boundless passion; we’d find words to match the length of time a smoker enjoys a Montecristo 80 Aniversario Cigar. Besides the wondrous Cuban Cigars, Havana is a hub for delectable food. Exquisite, best I’ve ever tasted cuisine. Where to go with such variety? Here are the city’s top 5 restaurants.
Al Pescatore is an Italian restaurant known for tasty seafood and fresh fish platters, such as their Frutti di Mare alla Griglia.
"all made with organic products"
AL PESCATORE – An Italian restaurant run by a chef named Luca who grew up in Tuscany. Opened in 2015, the establishment has quickly gained a reputation for serving incredible seafood. The countless dishes on offer are all made with organic products, from the pizza, bread, pasta and fish platters. Even the fussiest of eaters can find a menu option to cater. The staff displayed tremendous hospitality, including Luca himself who welcomed us to taste 120-year-old balsamic vinegar. On special request, they served Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper pasta) which is one of the most difficult dishes to master.
Without a doubt, the dish lived up to our expectations. It is one of the best we have eaten, even measuring up against Italy’s top restaurants. Whilst there, we drank sparkling red wine and Cuban rum. We were joined by the man behind Cohiba Atmosphere Guayabera Shirts, which are stylish for cigar aficionados to wear during the pool on a warm day, or in the evening by a bar.
Address of Al Pestcatore: Avenida 1ra, La Habana, +53 5 2839416
El Aljibe is one of the most renowned state-run restaurants in Cuba, specialising in mouth-watering chicken.
"most iconic place to eat"
EL ALJIBE – A Cuban institution, El Aljibe is arguably the most iconic place to eat food in Havana and visiting is highly recommended. The approximately 65-year-old secret chicken recipe is considered the finest in the world, and has been eaten by the likes of President Jimmy Carter and Jack Nicholson. The traditionally styled cottage location occupies vast space, but booking a table can be difficult as many cruise ship and tour buses take passengers to the restaurant. Their signature El Aljibe chicken with their ‘special sauce’, arrives with a limitless supply of sides – plantain, rice, beans and vegetables etc.
Ever since Fidel Castro nationalised El Aljibe, the place has been run by the Cuban state. Castro was known as a frequent customer. After our appetising chicken meals, we drank Cristal beer which is very popular in the country, as is considered 'light' compared to other well-known beer brands. The perfect spot for Creole food, original owners Sergio and his brother Pepe, still to this day refuse to share their mother’s chicken recipe.
Address of El Aljibe: Avenida 7ma, La Habana, +53 7 2044233
Santy Pescador offers a variety of shrimp dishes. One example is their Mediterranean Shrimp Garlic dish. If you love sushi, we suggest you visit here to enjoy.
"no. 1 for seafood in Cuba"
SANTY PESCADOR – On the Western outskirts of Havana, situated in a fishing village, this sushi restaurant is known as no.1 for seafood in Cuba. The village was a favourite spot of Ernest Hemingway’s back in the 1930’s and for several decades, ‘Santy’ has hosted a variety of recognisable personalities in its cabin decorated, wooden-panelled walls. There is a choice of where to dine, from the outdoor decks overlooking the sea (recreating a fishing environment), to the indoor ‘cabins’, as well as the 18 m high, second-floor terrace which displays spectacular views.
The latter was our preference. Here we smoked a vintage Cuban cigar and drank an marvellous bottle of French wine. Travelling with the island’s well-known Toby Brocklehurst (owner of In Cloud 9, who specialise at bespoke itineraries for Cuban visitors), we dined with a variety of people. Outside we noticed fisherman holding fish from the sea, large enough to require slicing in quarters just for fishermen to carry. At Santy Pescador, raw seafood is put through a deep freeze process to kill bacteria before serving.
Address of Santy Pescador: 240A, Jaimanitas, Havana, +53 5 2867039
El Cocinero houses a collection of tantalising Cuban rum to pair with Cuban cigars, and is positioned nearby trendy clubs and bars.
"cuisine is presented impeccably"
EL COCINERO – In the midst of a district in close proximity to a Havana's trendy nightlife, El Cocinero resembles a New York styled lounge featuring two terraces with different menus – a relaxed garden on the rooftop, and a restaurant terrace. Their Cuban and international cuisine is presented impeccably, and worldwide classic dishes all contain a Cuban spin. Prices are more expensive than typical Havana establishments, and booking a reservation is essential.
We appetised our taste buds with lobster and fish, while also enjoying coffee and Cuban cigars. Many were smoking custom-blend, though luxurious sticks such as a Cohiba Siglo VI Cigar were spotted. With a prime location for night entertainment, we recommend heading to their rooftop and drinking some expertly mixed cocktails, after dinner and before an evening at a hotspot like Fabrica de Arte Cubano next door. To note, a wine menu is not available as waiters help you choose, so you may wish to research beforehand.
Address of El Cocinero: Calle 26, La Habana, +53 7 8322355
La Corte del Principe is considered the ultimate Italian restaurant in Havana and is surrounded by beautiful greenery.
"best Italian restaurant"
LA CORTE DEL PRINCIPE – There are many “bests” on our list, and this restaurant receives best Italian restaurant. In the Playa area, Havana locals and tourists have made La Corte del Principe an institution – a charming, understated eatery which embodies a relaxed, peaceful atmosphere. For those looking to unwind and thoroughly enjoy their cigar, this place is ideal. Run and owned by one of the greatest Italian chefs in the country Sergio, simplistic dishes are made excellent, from pastas to carpaccio.
A host of celebrities who have dined at the restaurant cover the walls, and a large percentage of Italians eat here, proving the authenticity and quality of meals. Tables can be hard to get depending on time of visit, and only outdoor seating is available, though some tables are protected with a roof overhead. According to the company we were with, everything at La Corte del Principe is kept the same, bringing together a traditional feel.
Address of La Corte del Principe: Pjea, La Habana, +53 5 2559091
From Italian, seafood, and delightful Cuban cuisine, these 5 restaurants provide the ultimate food experience on a trip to Cuba's Havana. Each place has beauty, friendliness and surroundings ideal to light our many cigars for sale online.