Castropol Paladar

Seen as a leader in the recent culinary boom in Cuba, Castropol offers something for everyone who seeks great-tasting and good value cuisine in Havana. The food - a combination of Cuban and Spanish dishes - and the service consistently get good reviews. The location is an added bonus: the views of Havana Bay, the Malecon and the Caribbean sunset are second to none!

Run by the same Asturian cooperative as the also popular Los Nardos restaurant in Old Havana, Castropol profits from an ideal location overlooking the Malecón and layout that makes for two different restaurants in one. A floor up, the sun-drenched terrace is ideal for watching the sun slip into Havana Bay over a couple of sundowner cocktails at the end of the day. As you might expect, it gets pretty busy at sunset. Whilst the upper floor has a more formal setting and a somewhat more expensive menu, the area downstairs offers slightly cheaper grilled specialties as well as tasty pizzas done in a wood fire brick oven.

An eclectic menu

This restaurant has been run by various interests over recent years and even changed its name in 2010 to Malecón 107. However, the management and service seem now to be in a position to offer consistently good value Spanish and Cuban dishes, much like at the other establishments run by the same coop.

There is an emphasis on seafood and grilled meats. Recommended dishes include paella, garbanzos fritos (fried chickpeas), piri-piri prawns and the pan-fried lobster.

A choice of seating areas

It would be hard to turn one's back on that iconic view of the Malecón and Havana Bay, but if the sunny second floor terrace is predictably full, customers can sit downstairs in La Parrillada area on the ground floor, which has an open show kitchen and specialises in Caribbean-style charcoal-grilled meats and pizzas. The latter are prepared in a brick pizza oven. The restaurant has been tastefully renovated and has air-conditioning. Try the tamale stew, malanga fritters (fried chunks of taro) or tostones (slices of fried plantains), to accompany the meaty main dishes.

Upstairs, there are actually two separate spaces. In addition to the terrace, there is an air-conditioned dining room ideal for more intimate occasions or business dinners.

There is an extensive cocktail and wine list, featuring Spanish and Chilean varieties. Customers are also welcome to simply pop in for a coffee and/or a cigar.

The premises also feature a bakery-patisserie and next door is a fresh fruit stand. Either is perfect for buying a snack as you stroll along the seafront.

Easy to find on the Malecón

It's impossible to miss the mustard-coloured colonial-style building which Castropol calls home as you stroll or taxi down the Malecón. Once inside, despite major modifications, it features classic elements such as high ceilings, tall stone columns and several salons around an interior patio.

The quality of the menu, the good value offered and the service set this restaurant apart from many others in Havana so it can get busy at peak times.

The restaurant is at 107 on the Malecón on the corner Crespo and Geniuses, around 200 metres from Prado promenade. It is very close to the main city centre hotels, as well as to those in Vedado.

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