Private Dining In Cuba

Head to these spots for authentic, local cuisine 

You’ll find them all over Cuba: in a modest home on a cobblestoned alley, on the top floor of a Soviet-style apartment building, in an elegant and crumbling early 20th-century mansion. 

Paladares, privately owned restaurants, are revolutionizing the Cuban culinary scene, bringing a dash of style and a dollop of atmosphere to this friendly sun destination. Guests staying in all-inclusive resorts are well advised to venture out for a meal in a paladar so as to experience this authentic—and delicious—side of the country. 

Budding entrepreneurs were first given the opportunity to establish private restaurants in communist Cuba in the mid-1990s. Some thrived, but many failed due to onerous regulations and taxation. In 2011, President Raúl Castro loosened the laws and the restaurant scene flourished. 

Paladares span the style spectrum, from homey, family-run restaurants cluttered with Cuban knick-knacks to professional establishments with white banquettes and linen tablecloths. Menus are varied, influenced by the traditions of Cuba, Spain, France, Italy and other countries, as well as what’s available at the market each day. 

Three Favourite Paladares 

Doña Eutimia

Reserve a table at bustling Doña Eutimia where young staff serve cold beer, warm smiles and delicious plates of ropa vieja (shredded lamb or beef with tomato, garlic and oregano). 

La Guarida Restaurant

This paladar has been serving some of the best Cuban food in Havana for nearly 20 years. The location can’t be beat and you’ll be charmed by the beautiful old building. Try to score a table on the candlelit balcony overlooking the street below.

Vistamar

Located on the seafront, this popular spot offers stunning ocean views and delicious Cuban cuisine. Try the Salt and Pepper Crusted Snapper.