• Cuba Travel


Updated: Oct 3, 2019


These are the five best restaurants in Havana today, and my recommendations for Americans traveling to Cuba this winter.

Ivan Chef Justo/Al Carbon are in the heart of Old Havana should not be missed, they are across the street from the Museum of Bellas Artes and Museum of the Revolution. There is a bar that’s great to pop-into for a quick drink in Al Carbon, and don’t forget to try the house specialty of roast pork leg, which should be accompanied with congri and yuca, and the cuatro leches dessert. Ivan Chef Justo/Al Carbon are the same place with two names and different seating areas, in Old Havana at Aguacate 9 and the corner of Chacon Street.

Il Rustico does not serve Cuban food, none, the owner is Sicilian, and they specialize in Italian and Sicilian food, and it is awesome. If the tuna steak is on the menu be sure to order it! Il Rustico is close to La Bodeguita del Medio and the malecon, and they have Chianti which is next to impossible to find in Cuba. Il Rustico is on San Juan de Dios street between Habana and Compostela.

La Cocina de Lilliam in the Havana suburb of Miramar is the best place to have dinner if you’re going to the Tropicana Cabaret. They serve “typical” Cuban food and it was one of the first paladares to open in Havana. La Cocina de Lilliam is on 48th Street between 13th and 15th.

O’Reilly 304 in Old Havana is the most famous of these five and for good reason. It has an international flair, and the food is a wonderful fusion of local ingredients and the best of the world. This is one of the few places in Cuba where you can order a steak! It’s at 304 O’Reilly in Old Havana near La Bodeguita del Medio.

Dr. Café is one of the first high-end paladars to open in Havana and has very few tables in their air-conditioned dining room, so call ahead if you don’t want to sit outside. The menu changes daily but it’s all good, and the croquetas are the best in Cuba! It’s in the parking garage of a pre-1959 apartment building, and may be a little tricky to find, but it’s worth the effort, you will not be disappointed! Dr. Café is on 24th Street between 1st and 3rd Avenue.

Lunch and dinner cost $15 to $25 per person with a couple of drinks at all five. The service is great at all of them, unlike many restaurants in Cuba where staff is usually untrained and clueless as to what constitutes good service. All five accept U.S. dollars but find out the exchange rate beforehand, some are very generous and some are not. Il Rustico, O’Reilly 304, and Ivan Chef Justo are in Old Havana, Dr. Café is in Playa near Vedado, and La Cocina de Lilliam is further out in the suburb of Miramar. Bon appetit!

By Frank Gonzalez



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