The diary of a traveller WHERE TO EAT IN HAVANA?

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by room more on October 26, 2010

Jose Villarreal Roig


As I usually do in other countries, otherwise I would have nothing to write in my diary, I´ve tried to get a little familiar with Cuban food since, in my opinion, the biggest problem when traveling lies in the food. I remember when we were kids and we refused to eat, dad used to tell us that we should eat all sorts of food, because the eating habit is the most difficult to change. As time went by, as it always happens to every one of us, we recognize that our parents were right.

The cuisine of this famous Island has a very common menu in most homes and popular restaurants. It is usually based on pork, chicken, white rice, black beans and tubers such as cassava and fried green plantain. It is also typical a dish called ajíaco, which consists of putting together in a pot one or different types of meat with those tubers, known as here viandas, to obtain a thick and tasteful broth... That, I think, is the most representative but not the only thing. Because when my family asked me where to find a place in Havana that does not only serves international food, I had already chosen a name on the travel guide: La Fontana, in Miramar.

In that restauran-paladar, a national term, I found that there is a culinary tradition in Cuba whose delights may surprise tourists. I´m not going to stop at describing the physical space of La Fontana: the garden, the air-conditioned room, the bar ... the cosy and homely atmosphere. Let´s leave it for later. I want to point out the peculiarity of its kitchen. First, it specializes in dishes cooked on the grill with charcoal using seasonal ingredients to preserve the natural flavors. One can find the conventional dishes of the local cuisine, which La Fontana keeps updated. Specifically, I tried the fish-based recipes, unique flavors of the Caribbean at its best species: snapper, swordfish, tuna and wreckfish, combined with the most classic of the Cuban tradition as black beans, tamale casserole, a seasoned cornmeal dough, and shredded beef, which is popularly known as ropa vieja. Even the metaphor of the name inspires curiosity.

I´ll keep on gathering information. I could eat some of these dishes in several visits. And that´s why I got surprised by the part of the menu related to the native diet of the indigenous tribes who lived in the Island at Christopher Columbus arrival in 1492. I can mention mollusks such as sea nails, crayfish, octopus ... well, maybe I´m overdoing a bit, but one tells what one sees and feels.
Paladar La Fontana Havana
Calle 3ra. A esq. 46 No. 305
Havana, 10000
+53 (7) 202-8337

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