Topoly Paladar

Located alongside the panoramic Malecon promenade on Vedado's 23rd Street, Topoly opened in 2014 to become the first Iranian restaurant in Havana. Here diners can enjoy marinated chicken kebabs, roasted aubergine and homemade breads while being immersed in the rich cultural history of Iran thanks to nightly performances of belly dancing, poetry and music.

Topoly is part of the exciting new wave of private restaurants opening up throughout Havana. As the city’s first Iranian restaurant, its arrival in 2014 added yet another dimension to the variety of global cuisine in the capital’s increasingly multi-cultural dining scene.

But Topoly seeks to introduce the flavours of Iran not just through its food, but also through its culture. Performances of Iranian dancing, poetry and music are held each night, helping to bring the country’s distinctive traditions to life during the meal. Many of the ingredients that are essential to Iranian cuisine have to be imported, including turmeric, dried mint, caviar and black rye bread. But the resulting menu is one that benefits from this desire to keep things authentic.

Fabulous cuisine

For a hearty starter, try out sambousek – a fried stuffed pastry with ground chicken or lamb. Those looking for a lighter option might want to order the ensalada shirazia fresh and vibrant salad marinated in lemon juice and olive oil.

The main menu is meat heavy with a variety of lamb and chicken dishes including khoresht bademjan (lamb stew with eggplant and tomatoes) and joojeh kabab - marinated chicken kebabs served with grilled lemon, rice and a yoghurt and mint dip called masto khiar.

Breads also feature prominently in Iranian cuisine and Topoly’s bread menu is no exception. The eight homemade options include a chicken salad nan, vegetarian nan and nan koobideh - a flatbread filled with fresh salad, tomatoes, pickle and lamb kebab.

If room allows and you want to keep things authentic for dessert, go for Sholeh-Zard - a fragrant Iranian rice pudding infused with saffron and cinnamon.

End of meal drinks

To finish off your meal, the alcohol-free drinks menu (in true Muslim Iranian fashion) features a very decent range of coffees and teas, all of which arrive at your table in an elegant silver pot. The house special, Topoly tea, is also a must try. This sweet and spicy infusion is made with an aromatic blend of coriander, ginger and cinnamon.

A memorable experience

The relaxed ambience of Topoly is perhaps best enjoyed outside on the ground floor patio where you’ll sit beneath portraits of historical figures including Gandhi, Jose Marti and Che Guevara. For anyone wishing to spend an evening here, the wonderful Iranian cuisine and traditional entertainment will ensure you enjoy one of the most unique dining experiences in the city.

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