Americans were banned from traveling to Cuba until mid-2014, when flights finally began bringing U.S. citizens to the tropical island, pending they fit into one of twelve categories (of which tourism is not an option). Havana, the capital, is where many visitors end up spending most of their time, and rightfully so.
Havana has a rich cultural scene, filled with live music, a barrage of artwork and delectable cuisine. Restaurants may be on someone's back porch, or in the basement of an old castle. Regardless of the location, you will be pleasantly surprised with the concoctions coming from these kitchens and bars.
Started by two brothers, one a chef and the other artist, 304 O'Reilly serves up the basics in a cozy, chic interior. From empanadas to grilled fish, there is no lack of flavors. Every table comes with a bowl of plantain chips and the best salsa you will ever eat, filled with fresh tomatoes and habaneros.
Nothing cools the heat of salsa like a creamy Piña colada, and 304 O'Reilly did its drinks as big as its food. The presentation was always incredible and they tasted just as good. From mango mojitos to Cuba Libres, there was no shortage of good options, all presented with care.
El Del Frente
El Del Frente and 304 O'Reilly are more than just neighbors, they also share the same owners and a similar menu. Tired of sending away hungry visitors, El Del Frente was opened to make sure that everyone could enjoy this modern Cuban gem. The drinks here are more decorative, with the mango daiquiri being draped in a hand peeled lime peel. Check it out if 304 O'Reilly is too busy.
Widely considered to be the best restaurant in Havana, Habana 61 serves up elegant Caribbean cuisine in a small, upscale setting. Their top dishes mainly focus around seafood and steak. Every meal here should begin with Ceviche, a Cuban favorite, and follow with either the fish of the day or Filet Mignon. Portions are large and the presentation is truly impressive.
Claiming to be the "Cradle of the Daiquiri," This establishment began serving up drinks 200 years ago and has only improved with age. A favorite of Ernest Hemingway's, the bar is constantly crowded by tourists, but the short wait is mostly definitely worth it for one of these mango daiquiris. With drinks by the pitcher and an authentic vibe, whats not to love about this place?
Located on several streets in Havana, Churro Mania produces fresh, warm churros for a bargain. They are the most delicious street food available, and are the perfect post-mojito food. For $1, you can get six churros, covered in a blend of cinnamon and sugar. If you run into one of these carts, don't pass up the opportunity for a great snack.
Havana has a growing food scene which offers up basic foods, in large portions and with loads of flavor. There is no shortage of fresh fish or perfectly mixed mojitos. While the city has so much to offer, the food should be a highlight of your time in Cuba.