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Cuba Travel Guide

James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
Cuba, May/June 2007

(continued from page 5)

This is home cooking, 1950s Cuban cuisine, and a fun place to eat, either for lunch or dinner. Most customers prefer to eat on the patio of the Spanish colonial—style house built in 1937. The refreshing green garden with ferns and small ponds is refreshing during a warm, humid Cuban day. Food is hearty with lots of pork, fish, rice and beans. Desserts are sweet and delicious. Plenty of Spain's Torres wine is available, although a cold Cuban beer or refreshing Mojito does the trick as well.

El Aljibe
Avenida 7 entre 24 y 26
Tel.: (7) 204-1584, 204-1583
Monday to Sunday, lunch and dinner
Moderate; most major credit cards

You can't go to Havana and not eat at this sometimes raucous outdoor restaurant. It's great for people watching at night, so go around 9 p.m. The food is savory and satisfying. Just about everyone eats the same thing: roasted chicken in a pungent sauce made with fermented oranges, chicken drippings and garlic; spicy black beans; delicate boiled white rice; and deep-fried plantains. Ask one of the sommeliers to recommend a rich Spanish, Italian or Chilean red from the restaurant's 20,000-bottle cellar. Order a bottle of 2003 Don Melchor; the delicious Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon was Wine Spectator's No. 3 wine last year.

La Esperanza
Calle 16, No. 105
Entre 1 y 3
Tel.: (7) 202-4361
Monday to Saturday, lunch and dinner; cash only

This restaurant has had its ups and downs, but the food and service seems to be back on track. It's as real a paladar as you get in Cuba, plus there's a romantic refinement to the 1930s Spanish colonial house. Relax and enjoy. Coming here is like being invited to a bohemian dinner party.

La Casa
Calle 30, No. 865
Entre 26 y 41
Nuevo Vedado
Tel.: (7) 881-7000
Monday to Sunday, lunch and dinner; cash only

This could be the second best restaurant in Havana, if owner Alejandro Robaina can continue to innovate in his kitchen. The atmosphere is relaxed, hip in a 1950s Miami sort of way. Plenty of good pork and fish dishes as well as the occasional rabbit or chicken. Food is light and refined now. Just what you need on a hot, humid night in Havana.

Doctor Café
Calle 28, No. 111
Entre 1 y 3
Tel.: (7) 203-4718
Every day, lunch and dinner (reservation needed); most major credit cards

A very simple paladar in the back of a doctor's house, hence the name. The food here is solid criollo eats with lots of roasted and grilled meats, poultry and fish accompanied by black beans and rice. Arrive on an empty stomach.

El Templete
Avenida del Puerto, No. 12
Esquina Narciso Lopez
La Habana Vieja
Tel.: (7) 866-8807
Every day, lunch and dinner; most major credit cards, but cash preferable

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