Where to Eat Old Havana

Havana with Kids – Where to Eat

Is the food in Cuba good? YES! I know this is a question many people, including myself ask before travelling to Cuba. I am happy to report, not only did we find delicious food, Cuban cuisine is also incredibly kid friendly. There are many places to eat in Havana that will satisfy both kids and adults.

Cuban cuisine has many influences including Spanish, African, Taino and Carribean. It is true that food was simpler, whole and less spiced than other places I have visited. That didn’t take away from our experience, in fact this made it so easy for our 6 year old to find something each meal she enjoyed.

We found many places to eat in Havana that all three of us could enjoy. Our favourite kid friendly places to eat in Havana include:

  • Casa Particular Breakfasts
  • Belview Art Cafe – Vedado
  • La Rosa Negra – Nuevo Vedado
  • Fuumiyaki – Nuevo Vedado
  • La Casa – Nuevo Vedado
  • La Guarida – Central Havana
  • Cafe Literario – Old Havana
  • Mekede – Old Havana
  • Ton Lay Bakery – Chinatown

These weren’t tucked away spots only locals visit, with limited seating and hard to find addresses. As I was the only one in our family who spoke basic spanish, and with a six year old, our priorities were easy to find, well reviewed restaurants, with yummy food, and abundant seating. Servers who understood my attempts at spanish or spoke english were a plus.

Havana, like most large cities provides the most options for state-owned restaurants, paladares, smaller cafes and street food. While there are many fantastic options, I will provide our list of favourites, and the top 6 restaurants we wanted to try, but didn’t have time for.

Cuban Food

Fresh ingredients in Cuba are often prepared simply and meals are heavy on the meat. Staples focus on rice, beans, pork, beef, chicken, eggs and small amounts of vegetables.

Vegetables served were often tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, cassava (yucca) and plantain.

Fruit was most often available for breakfasts or as juice, including pineapple, frutabomba (papaya), bananas and guava. Remember to use “frutabomba” when asking for papaya, unless you want to have Cubans snicker at the tourist, as papaya is slang for vagina. As we went in the winter time, avocados and mangos were not in season, unfortunately.

Special Diets

Travelling to Cuba with special dietary needs can be difficult, because as my daughters preschool teacher always used to say “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.” What is available one day, may not be available the next, and due to the US embargo what Cuba can import is limited. Cubans don’t have access to a lot of packaged food, and what is available is expensive.

Eating gluten free is possible with a little preparation, but don’t expect to be able to find premade gluten free products like bread, pasta etc. For more information, Eating Gluten Free in Cuba is Possible – Here’s How is a good place to start.

Vegetarians can get by, especially if you eat eggs or fish.

Eating vegan will be very difficult, and you will likely be stuck eating a lot of beans and rice, and fruit, unless you bring food with you.

If you are raw vegan as I saw one person asking about on trip advisor, forget about it, and choose another destination. Coming from a place where that is even possible, is a privilege Cubans don’t have.

Eating Out in Havana

Cuba is very kid friendly, and restaurants are no exception. We found kids of all ages (both tourist and Cuban) roaming around restaurants, and sitting on their parents laps, however very few places had high chairs.

The Alamesa App and website was helpful for looking up contact information, addresses, and sometimes menus for restaurants we were already interested in, as very few business had websites.

All prices listed, are the average price for a main dish plus a drink.

Havana with Kids: Where to Eat Breakfast

Casa Particular

Where: Throughout Cuba. Check out AirBnB or Booking.com

Cost: $5CUC per person

If you decide to stay at a casa particular, and we recommend you do if you want a more authentic experience, try out their breakfasts. For only $5CUC per person you typically get an assortment of freshly made juice, cuban coffee / cafe con leche, fruit, eggs, toast and crepe like pancakes. Each of the three casas we stayed at had their own take on this. After a couple of days my daughter and I ended up sharing one, as it was too much food for one person.

Typical Casa breakfast with fruit, pancakes, juice and coffee
Cuban breakfast at AirBnB
Casa breakfast with fruit, green salad, eggs, cheese, toast, juice & coffee

Belview Art Café

Where: Calle 6 # 412 esq 19, (Corner of Calle 6 and 19) – Vedado

Cost: $8 – $20CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP), Cash (EUR), Cash (USD)

Hours: Tues-Sunday 9am to 6pm.

Thank you Trip Advisor (and all those who wrote glowing reports about their breakfasts) for this recommendation. Definitely check this place out. Breakfast is my favourite meal to go out for, and we ended up staying here for a good 2.5 hours.

Finding the café was a bit difficult, as it was tucked away off the street, and looked like a house, but the food and ambiance is well worth the effort.

As the Belview Art Café is in a converted home, wander around its warren of rooms to find your favourite nook. For the kids, choose the table with the seat made from the back end of a ’55 Chevy.

The menu is interesting, with gourmet touches and would be good for breakfast or a light lunch.

We had the Shashuka (Israeli dish with eggs in tomato sauce), Crepes with cheese / ham and the Crepe Belview, a larger plate of fruit and various juices, water and coffee which came to about $32CUC. I ate the best bread in Cuba here, and apparently if you go on Saturday mornings you can buy a loaf to take home.

Not only does it have delicious food, and coffee, the walls are adorned with photographic art, as the owner is a professional photographer.

As I sat there, I had visions of coming back on my own, sitting and reading a book on one of the couch spaces, while drinking a couple of cups of coffee and listening in on the Spanish conversations around me.

Of course that didn’t happen while travelling with my family (kids…space…what?!?), nor were we there long enough to return to the same spot twice.

Havana with Kids: Where to Eat Lunch

Mekedé

Where: Monserrate 211 Tejadillo y Empedrado – Old Havana

Cost: $8 – $14CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP), Cash (EUR), Cash (USD)

Hours: 10am to 11:30pm every day

Mekedé was a cool air conditioned break from our city day tour of Havana. We went there for lunch on the recommendation of our guide Judith, and the service, food and atmosphere were excellent.

Mekedé as an independent restaurant with great Cuban dishes and plenty of choice on the menu, including vegetarian and gluten free options. The servers are happy to make recommendations, and our daughter enjoyed choosing which sides she wanted ( black beans and rice always a favourite).

My fish was cooked to perfection, and turned out to be one of my favourite meals of the whole trip. Even though I rarely drink I also had to try one of their tropical mojitos. My daughter was delighted to get her own fancy non-alcoholic version as well. We both were very happy with our choices.

Best Kid-Friendly Lunch in Old Havana
Family lunch at Mekedé in Old Havana

Havana with Kids: Where to Eat Dinner

La Guarida

Where: 418 Concordia e/ Gervasio y Escobar – Central Havana

Cost: $29+CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP), Cash (EUR), Cash (USD)

Hours: 12pm to 4pm and 6pm to 11:45pm every day

Tip: Reservations are recommended. You can make a reservation and view their menu through their website.

No trip to Havana is complete without visiting this historical building and the paladar (privately owned restaturant) which opened July 14, 1996. Most notably in recent times it is known as the location where the Oscar-nominated film Fresa y Chocolate was filmed.

From the entrance, a slighly delapitated looking marble staircase out of the 1940’s leads you up to the third floor restaurant. A great photo opportunity.

Enjoy the view of Havana from the balcony, and it’s fusion of classic Cuban cuisine with newer dishes such as lamb tikka masala.

Stand outs for us were the octopus carpaccio, honey and lemon chicken and the deconstructed lemon pie with almonds and chocolate 3 leches for dessert. Our bill with starters, entrees, dessert, drinks and tip (automatically applied) came to $100CUC, and well worth it.

Dine in elegant spaces surrounded by framed photos and paintings, lighted by chandeliers overhead. Or on a warm night enjoy your food on the balcony.

La Rosa Negra

Where: Tulipán esq. 24 – Nuevo Vedado

Cost: $7+ CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP)

Hours: 12pm to 12am every day

Tip: Go early or order take away, as there are usually long line-ups

We wandered to La Rosa Negra our first night in Havana, as we were staying in Nuevo Vedado close by.

Oh Rosa Negra, you were soooo good, and the portions HUGE! Let me repeat that, the portions were HUGE. Luckily they were one of they few places who had take-away containers. We were feasting for days, as we ordered three complete meals, plus an appetizer, unaware of the portion size.

You will not be disappointed by choosing Rosa Negra for dinner, or lunch, or anytime really. It’s a mix of Italian, and Cuban cuisine. Highlights for us were the pizza, some of the best we’ve had anywhere, and the fried chicken.

Come early or order take away, as it is a favourite with locals, and is always packed with long line-ups. The service was friendly, and they spoke english, which was a bonus for us. The prices were very reasonable for the large portions. We came a second time for dinner, unfortunately the wait was too long.

Fuumiyaki

Where: Avenida 26, #367, Entre Calle 23 y Calle 25

Cost: $8 – $14CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP), Cash (EUR), Cash (USD)

Hours: 12pm to 11:45pm every day

“Japanese food in Cuba, we have to try it ” declared Derek.

If you are craving sushi in Havana, this is the place to go. They will even provide vegan options on request. The pescados de tempura and the yakatori were a hit with our six year old and the adults alike. My favorite were the rice paper rolls, very refreshing and the deep fried salmon sushi rolls.

This restaurant was also recommended by our guide Judith, from our Strawberry Tours – Havana in Day tour. You can check out our day tour experience here. While this wasn’t my favourite meal, I did enjoy the Cuban take on Japanese food, and the elegant atmosphere.

La Casa

Where: Calle 30 # 865 e/ Ave. 26 y 41 – Nuevo Vedado

Cost: $15 to $21CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP), Cash (EUR), Cash (USD), Credit Card

Hours: 12pm to 12am every day

We ended up at La Casa as our second attempt to eat at La Rosa Negra was thwarted by an hour long line up, and a hungry kid and adults. Ok confession, it was me who was getting hangry.

This lovely family restaurant is located in a converted home, in a residential Nuevo Vedado neighbourhood. Seating can be inside in their dining rooms, or outside in the shaded patio area. They serve Cuban and International food.

The spaghetti pomodoro was the best spaghetti I have eaten in a long time. Lightly sauced with fresh tomatoes, herbs and cheese. I am not usually a fan of pasta, I still talk about that dish, since returning home. Unfortunately we did not take any pictures of our food at La Casa.

For dessert, our daughter couldn’t decide between ice cream and flan, so they suggested both. Always a hit.

There is a small “river” pathway that ran along one side of the restaurant, and contained swimming turtles, which was the highlight for our 6 year old.

Coffee and Snack Time

Cafe Literario

Where: Calle Mercaderes, in the garden of the former palace of the Marques de Arcos.

Cost: $0.50CUC – $2CUC

Cafe Literario has enticing tables, in the garden of the old Artistic and Literary Lyceum, the former Palace of the Marquis of Arcos. It is a space designed to pay tribute to Cuban literature, where you can find a bronze statue of Gabriel García Márquez, and visit the numerous cats that make this garden home. The “Cat Cafe” was a hit with our daughter.

We recommend this place as a quiet stop over during your Old Havana visit. We found the most inexpensive and delicious coffee here, as well as a few moments of relaxtion, as our six year old wandered the garden looking for cats hidden in the trees and bushes. Apparently these homeless cats are fed and taken care of by locals.

Ton Lay Bakery

Where: El Barrio Chino (Chinatown) – Havana

Cost: $0.40 – $2 CUC for sweets

$7-$15CUC for whole cakes (In case you are so inclined)

Ton Lay Bakery was a delicious sweet snack stop. We chose three varieties of donuts ( the sugar coated ones were my favourite), but there were many other sweet options to choose from at very reasonable prices.

Chinatown in Havana has an interesting bit of history. During the mid 1800’s people from China came to work in the sugar cane fields as contract labourers. In the 1920’s, Havana’s Chinatown was the largest in Latin America, bustling with business, but most left in the 1960’s after the revolution.

El Barrio Chino was revitalized in the 1990’s as a tourist destination, and is noteable for its lack of Chinese residents today.

Chinatowns hold a fascination for Derek, and we try to visit one any opportunity we get along our travels. Check out the Pagoda Arch at the entrance to Calle Dragones, and the surrounding streets around Calle Cuchillo.

6 Restaurants We’d Like To Try

While we had four full days in Havana, it wasn’t nearly enough time to see all the sites, or eat at all the restaurants we wanted. Travelling with kids, you often have to adjust your expectations, and sometime the easy, close restaurant trumps reviews, desires and a 20 minute taxi ride.

We heard good things about the restaurants below, and they were on our top 6 list of places to eat next time we are in Havana.

5 Sentidos

Where: San Juan de Dios #67 e/ Compostela y Habana – Old Havana

Cost: $8 – $14 CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP), Cash (EUR), Cash (USD)

Hours: 12pm to 4pm and 6:30pm to 11:00pm every day

Tip: Make reservations , as it can get very busy. You can book through their website or facebook page.

5 Sentidos was on many top Havana restaurant articles. A feast for your senses. The decor is classy, all white and lit with chandeliers. Their open air kitchen, allows for the wonderful smells of the chefs unique takes on traditional cuban and international food, to waft around the dining room.

I have heard good things about the ceviche for appetizers and the tagliatelle con pollo, chicken masala, lamb stew and lobster for main courses. We also were excited to try their desserts, particularly the chocolate world and guava cubes filled with creamcheese.

Paladar Doña Eutimia 

Where: Callejón del Chorro # 60 C – Old Havana

Cost: $8 – $14CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP), Cash (EUR), Cash (USD)

Hours: 12pm to 11:45pm every day

Paladar Doña Eutimia is a family run restaurant specializing in old Creole cuisine. The owner uses recipes passed down from her mother. I hear the Ropa Vieja del Chorro (shredded lamb in red sauce) with black beans, salad and rice is the dish to try.  They are also known for big portions at reasonable prices.

Lo de Monik

Where: Chacon y Compostela – Old Havana

Cost: $8 – $14CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP), Cash (EUR), Cash (USD)

Hours: 8am to 11:30pm every day

Lo de Monik is a mix of Caribbean, Latin, Cuban, and International cuisine. Come for breakfast, and stay for lunch, or dinner. The octopus, fish and pork taco selections were on our list of must tries.

They are one of the few places to have good vegetarian, and vegan options. Try the Yucas bravas, vegetarian tacos, chickpeas and beans.

Ajiaco Café

Where: Calle 92 # 267 e/ 3raE y 5ta – Cojimar, East Havana

Cost: $8 – $14CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP), Cash (EUR), Cash (USD), Credit Card

Hours: 12pm to 11pm every day

This farm to table restaurant is located in Cojimar, and serves traditional Cuban dishes made with ingredients from it’s farm. “Ajiaco” comes from the name of a traditional Cuban stew made with root veggies, corn, beef and pork, which they also offer on their menu.

They hold cooking classes during the day, from 10am to 1pm if there are enough people, and tours of their gardens. I love supporting locally grown food, and this restaurant intrigued me for this reason.

El Biky

Where: Calle Infanta, esq. San Lázaro – Centro Habana

Cost: $8 – $14CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (CUP), Credit Cards (Not issued by the US).

Hours: Café: 8:00am – 12:00 pm every day. Dulcería: 8:00am – 12:00pm every day.

Anywhere that suggests a good brunch, and a bakery, I am in! El Biky is a cafe that serves Cuban and International food, and features a bar, bakery and an upscale restaurant in the complex. Retro pre-revolution photos claim the wall space.

Check out the menu on their website. Everything from eggs, fruit salad, and sandwiches for breakfast, to pizza, pasta, fish, chicken and hamburgers for lunch and dinner.

La Galería

Where: Calle 19 esq. 10 y 12 – Vedado

Cost: Lunch (Set menu) $9 – $11CUC Dinner: $22- $28CUC

Payment Options: Cash (CUC), Cash (EUR), Cash (USD)

Tip: Book ahead as it can get busy.

This gallery-meets-restaurant offers Cuban contemporary art and international to creole fusion cuisine. Dishes range from pizza, and pasta to filet mignon, stewed rabbit and prawns battered in cocunut. I am dreaming about the prawns.

They also have a kids menu, which is rare in Cuba and an executive menu for lunch.

You will however need to walk up three flights of stairs to get to the restaurant.

Bonus – Coppelia 

Where: Calles 23 & L – Vedado

Payment Options: Cash (CUP), Cash (CUC)

Hours: 9am-10pm Tuesday to Sunday

Surprise! A bonus selection.

Do you think you can get away without a trip to the ice cream shop while on a tropical vacation with kids? I think not.

Not to worry, I got you covered. Coppelia is where tourists and locals alike go for ice cream. This iconic shop opened in 1966, and has been a state run institution ever since.

The line ups are huge. We tried lining up, which was confusing as multiple lines spread out in many directions, and we weren’t sure where to stand. We even saw the Cuban love of line-ups in action when a woman joined the line asking, what are you all lining up for? This led me to believe we were in fact in the wrong line.

After about 15 minutes in the hot sun we gave up, much to our daughters dismay. Luckily we found another heladeria at the bottom of Calle 23, by the Malecon, called Bim Bom. This heladeria had a short, air conditioned lineup, and delicious selection of ice cream.

Tip: If you want to avoid the hype and lineups of Coppelia, we suggest heading down the hill to Bim Bom.

So Many Great Food Options in Havana, So Little Time

There are so many great options in Havana to feed your belly and soul. We took our six year old to all kinds of restaurants, and had no problems at all. She ate copious amounts of spaghetti, beans and rice, and flan, and there was always something we could order to share with her, if we didn’t want to order her a full meal.

Leave us a comment below if you have any favourite restaurants, bakeries or cafes we shouldn’t miss next time we are in Havana.

4 thoughts on “Havana with Kids – Where to Eat”

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