This is Amir’s area of expertise as he explores cultures through their cuisines. Through his research and the recommendation of our host we found three inexpensive restaurants we really enjoyed. During all our visit to the 3 restaurants we always ordered at least 2 entrees and 2 drinks and the bills never added to more than $13 CUC. All three restaurants are within 3 blocks of each other and priced very reasonable.
D’Next serves American cuisine and it is similar to a US diner at one third the price. During our many visits to D’Next we enjoyed the pasta, pizza, and burger. My favorite part about visiting D’Next was their yummy drinks. During one our visits we sat at the bar and witnessed the bartender make a fresh and most delicious lemonade I’ve ever had. I also tried their milkshake and fresh fruit juices. I always left with my tummy full and my taste buds satisfied.
Our favorite restaurant was El Chanchullero. I had the tasty Ropa Vieja and Amir had a shrimp dish (can’t recall the name) which he enjoyed. I highly recommend the $5 CUC breakfast special which includes 2 items and a drink. We each ordered the breakfast special and later realized that one order is enough for 2 people as the servings are very generous.
The third restaurant we recommend is El Dandy we stopped by for breakfast and enjoyed their cafe con leche and ham sandwich.
Booze & More Booze
After being with Amir for 4 years, I still can’t figure out whether he loves food more than alcohol or alcohol more than food. Upon his request we developed a 1- day barhopping itinerary in Havana. After breakfast at El Dandy, we started our barhopping journey.
- Our first bar was a visit to one of the two cervecerias (brewery), La Taberna de La Muralla, which is located on the Old Town Square in Old Havana. We ordered 12oz beer mugs for $2 CUC each. If visiting with a large group, you can enjoy a beer tower (tube) for $12 CUC. The atmosphere was vibrant as there was live music and people dancing during the middle of the day.
- Cerveceria Antiguo Almacen de la Madera, the other cerveceria, is located by the water inside an old warehouse. The beers here were a bit more ($3 CUC) and the beer towers were $16 CUC, however, Amir thought the beer was better at this location. There was no live music but there was a mixture of good 90’s and early 2000’s music playing.
- We walked to El Templete Restaurant and had 2 beers for $3 CUC each. I wasn’t impressed with the customer service at this place as they avoided us, never asked if we would like anything else, and acted like they had better things to do than to help us.
- During our walk to the next bar we ended up walking by the beautiful Hotel Raquel. As we were admiring its architecture, a nice man informed us that we could visit the rooftop for beautiful views of Havana. We decided to take a look and found that there was a rooftop bar so we enjoyed some mojitos ($6 CUC/each). The views of the city were not grand but we rejoiced over the evening cool breeze after the hot summer day.
- Our next stop was the famous El Floridita Bar, where the famous author, Ernest Hemingway, hanged out. We had 2 piña coladas for $6 CUC each. The bar was packed with hardly any room to walk but we were lucky enough to find a table that we ended up sharing with a lovely French couple. The atmosphere was cool but the drinks were overpriced when compared with other bars in Havana.
- Our 6th stop was at Iberostar Parque Central Hotel which has a rooftop restaurant. We arrived here after dark and found that it had stunning views of Central Park. We both had a mojito and shared an order of delicious patatas (potatoes) for $21 CUC. Though the prices are a bit steep the view is well worth it.
- El Patchanka was a very cool, casual, inexpensive bar. We ordered a piña coladas and a beer for $2 CUC each. We met a French man who was writing a book about rum and ended up doing a rum taste test. Each shot of rum was $2 CUC.
- Our last stop was at Kilómetro Zero. This bar was not part of our itinerary but the live salsa band and the people dancing convinced us to stop by and enjoy a Cuba Libre (rum and coke). Given the rum taste test at the previous bar we can’t remember how much we paid for the Cuba Libre.