The lively Vedado district in Havana is a happening place where young professionals and internationals engage in business, commerce, politics and entertainment. The impressive Hotel Habana Libre hosts more business travelers than any other Cuban hotel and the activity of the district has helped to create some of the country’s most prodigious “paladares” or privately owned and operated restaurants.
Supporting paladares is an excellent way to help Cuban entrepreneurs without helping the unpopular Castro regime. Dave and Yordi are in Cuba and last night dined at the Café Laurent, a restaurant where Traveguidecuba.com clients always dine when in Havana. In addition to describing this internationally recognized Café, Yordi and Dave want to advise travelers that Vedado is home to two other prominent, privately operated eateries and provide some insight into what can be expected.
The first rule for each of these establishments is to make reservations ahead of time. Want information about other restaurants in Cuba? Contact Dave or Yordi at Info@travelguidecuba.com.
Café Laurent – Owned by Lorenzo Enrique and Jose Figueroa, this thriving restaurant is busy from opening at noon losing at midnight. The chefs put out some of the finest Cuban, international and Spanish meals in the country. The success of the restaurant has alleviated some of the supply issues less active Cuban restaurants often face.
The specialty of the house is red snapper with clams and shrimp in green sauce. This dinner draws raves every night and is Dave’s favorite meal in Havana. For Sunday brunch, the lunch menu includes another popular treat, paella and/or risotto. Shrimp dishes, steaks, meatballs, special salads and an array of side dishes will charge your taste buds.
The restaurant is around the corner from the iconic Hotel Nacional and rewards diners with an extremely clean and efficient kitchen, a rarity in many Cuban eateries. The entrance is imposing but once inside, a whole new world opens up and guests enjoy a luxurious backdrop to fine food in a strikingly hospitable ambiance.
The three chefs, Dayron, Aviles and Alfonso each have their favorite dishes but there is an unusually high level of consistency at Café Laurent.
Atelier – Another of Yordi’s favorite brasseries is Atelier, owned by Hermanos Higuera Martinez. With lead chefs Enrique and Edreira, business and social diners can expect carefully prepared and considered lunches and dinners. Again, reservations are suggested, especially if conventions are in town.
Atelier sits conveniently in the center of Vedado and concentrates on Cuban and international fare. Visitors remark the food is healthy, creatively prepared and presented. Yordi is an excellent chef and artist in her own right and Atelier is her favorite port of call in Havana.
On the Malecon, near the Melia Cohiba in Havana’s heart, Atelier opens at noon and stays open late. The building has its own traditional charm with modern improvements. The decor is pleasant but the emphasis is always on the cuisine and outstanding service. Individual dishes are simple but the meticulous preparation makes the difference. Guests at Atelier will enjoy a wide wine selection.
Los Tres Mosqueteros – The Mariscada, a seafood platter with lobster, shrimp and fish is to die for! Dinner guests come from outside Vedado to taste this delicacy of the house. Open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until after 8:00 p.m. the paladares owners Roberto Cuenca and Hector Morejon specialize in healthy and wholesome seafood, Cuban and international meals. The second floor terrace is vibrant with activity as guests strain to observe the hectic pace of 23 Avenue. Not far from Calle 23, the setting does not do the cuisine justice. Reopened for business in 2010, the owners have relied upon their ingenuity and popular chefs Deinelin, Cantero and Guerra to build a strong following. You will see why when you make your reservations at Vedado’s Los Tres Mosqueteros.