Havana, Cuba's major tourist destination, combines its world-renowned attractions, beaches, culture and traditions with excellent gastronomic offers for those with a discerning palate.
In addition to its Spanish colonial architecture, the city also offers both foreign tourists and local dwellers a wide range of options, ranging from fast-food restaurants with a modern decoration to prestigious decades-old establishments.
One of the most prominent such establishments is the world-renowned Bodeguita del Medio, which has become the flag restaurant of Cuban cuisine in the new era of Cuban tourism.
La B del M – as it is also known in Spanish – is at walking distance from Cathedral Square (207 Empedrado Street), a busy area visited by many tourists. Its most demanding offer is Mojito, a cocktail made of Cuban light rum, mint, lemon juice, ice and sugar.
However, Bodeguita del Medio did not become famous for its excellent dishes only, but because it is customary that clients write their names or phrases on the walls, as an indelible sign of their stay in Havana, which is visited by thousands of foreign vacationers every year.
In the western corner of Havana's seafront drive (Malecón) is the 1830 Restaurant, which is located in a 19th-century building that formerly housed the Arana Restaurant, which was famous at the time for its specialties: Cuban Rice and Chicken and Biscayan-style cod and vegetables.
Beautiful iron-wrought railings, stained-glass windows and wooden balconies that are reminiscent of the neoclassical style welcome visitors who want to enjoy the most exquisite dishes from Cuban and international cuisine.
Seafood lovers prefer to eat at La Terraza de Cojímar, where they can also enjoy a fascinating marine environment in a fishing town.
The establishment was inaugurated in 1925 in the coastal town of Cojímar, where it functioned as a mixed storehouse named Las Arecas and was a property of Don Manuel García Rodríguez. It was located on the town's oldest street: Calzada Real de la Reina Isabel II.
As time went by, Las Arecas became a modest restaurant for local fishermen and nonresidents, until it was acquired by Salvador Blanco, who called it La Terraza and made it famous with involuntary support from US novelist Ernest Hemingway.
Precisely there, the US author first met fisherman Anselmo Hernández, who inspired him to write one of his most famous novels, "The Old Man and the Sea".
The 1954 literature Nobel prizewinner first visited La Terraza accompanied by his boat's skipper and friend Gregorio Fuentes, and became a regular customer of an establishment that he often mentioned in his books.
The Mesón de la Flota, another famous restaurant in Old Havana, evokes the traditional Spanish taverns that proliferated in the Cuban capital during the colonial period. The establishment serves wines and exquisite Spanish tapas, in addition to cold and hot dishes, and main courses with a variety of accompaniments.