Visitors to Cuba have complained for years about the poor quality and lack of variety of food served in the country’s dreary, state-run restaurants, but that is changing as more liberal business laws have given rise to a wave of privately owned eateries. Known locally as paladares, these establishments run the gamut from informal holes in the wall to upscale dining establishments.
Try San Cristóbal (Calle San Rafael No 469) for its delicious Cuban- creole menu and memorable setting of a former mansion that is decorated in an eclectic style of antiques, offbeat religious artifacts, and whimsical bric-a-brac.
Other paladares to sample include the trendy O’Reilly 304 (the name is also the address), which is famous for its seafood and extensive cocktail list, as well as Café Laurent (Calle M No 257, between Calles 19 and 21 in Vedado), an upscale restaurant that feels like you’ve stepped back into time to the 1950s.
If you’re pinching pennies, there are numerous roadside stands in Havana that serve up delicious and cheap street food. A popular choice are the pork burgers that locals like to top with cream cheese, strawberry jam, and pineapple, all washed down with a nice glass of watermelon juice.
Baseball is nearly a religion in Cuba, and if any teams are playing while you are in town, then you’ll treasure the experience of witnessing one of their games in person, even if you’re not a baseball fan.