La California Paladar
La California is one of Havana's best known restaurants and can justifiably stake a claim in the city's history books. The lovingly restored 19th-century colonial building which houses La California restaurant is part of the cultural project, "El Solar de la California". This historical block was the subject of a song written by (the recently deceased) Los Van Van front man Juan Formell and famously performed by Isaac Delgado.
The song was a timba remake of the famous Eagles hit, "Hotel California" and described the slum conditions from which some of Cuba's greatest black musicians, doctors and other community leaders emerged. It was in this neighbourhood where Latin jazz was ostensibly born, largely due to legendary Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo, who later found fame, fortune and an early death in New York City in the 1940s.
Great Italian and Cuban cuisine
The local restoration project is proceeding at a typically Cuban (slow) pace and on first sight it is hard to imagine the gem of a restaurant which is hidden inside this rundown neighbourhood. Do not despair! Once inside La California, visitors are greeted by funky decor, good service and a menu of excellent Italian and Cuban classics.
For starters, try the bruschetta or pumpkin soup. Diners rave about the thin-crust pizzas prepared in a wood-fired oven (the variety is truly extensive!). The pasta and lobster also get great reviews. For dessert, don't miss the homemade coconut ice cream, the cakes or the pies.
A warm welcome
Owner Charles Farigola is often on the premises to offer menu advice or chat to customers and ensure that they have an all-round positive experience in his establishment. As well as individual customers, the restaurant is also popular with tour groups. Regardless of the size of group, the food is consistently reported as fresh and excellent and the staff friendly and attentive.
Fitting with its position in Havana's history, La California now offers a package of a one-hour historical city tour in a vintage American car, followed by a welcome cocktail and lunch or dinner.
For an elegant and authentic dinner in one of Havana's most historical restaurants, seek out La California at 418 Concordia Street, on the corner of Gervasio y Escobar, just a block back from the Malecón.
Get InspirationAll about where to go and what you can do
Overlooking one of Havana's most historic plazas, the Azucar Lounge cocktail and tapas bar certainly has an enviable location. Additionally, its food and drink options don't disappoint eitherâclassic Cuban cocktails abound, and some say that these are the best piña coladas in all of Havana. Featuring contemporary style right on the Plaza Vieja, the Azucar Lounge is one of the top bars in Havana, Cuba.
With its exposed brickwork, high ceilings and centuries-old feel, visiting Bar Restaurante Salon 1851 in Trinidad is like being whisked back in time. Situated just next door to the Palenke de Los Congos Reales, it's a restaurant that possess a unique and authentic atmosphere that stays true to the spirit of Cuba's traditional roots.
The Bistro Habana-Kohly is appropriately located in the Kohly neighbourhood of Havana's upscale Miramar municipality, and though the food isn't strictly French, the restaurant maintains the feel of a small and cosy Parisian cafe-eatery. Popular for both its outdoor dining terrace and its intimate, air-conditioned indoor dining room, the Bistro Habana-Kohly serves up fine international cuisine with French and Cuban touches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Without a doubt, this is a top restaurant in Havana, Cuba.
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