HAVANA – With a nearly non-existent wholesale food industry and an agricultural system that can't keep up with demand, chefs face a shortage of ingredients. But they do not lack of creativity.
Since Cuban officials legalized privately-owned restaurants in 1993, the paladar circuit in Havana has been growing.
To catch up, mobile phone app A la Mesa Cuba provides a directory that helps tourists find their best options.
Here is a list of some of the most popular restaurants in Havana:
Reservations are required. The tables are set with antique china and glassware and the artwork changes and is usually for sale. The menu is handwritten and it changes every day.
Reservations are required. It has been open since 1996 with a menu that includes Malanga Gnocchi and Watermelon Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp. It was the site of the film "Fresa y Chocolate" in 1993.
6 recommendations: Saveur, Thrillist, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, The Culture Trip and The New York Times recommend it.
Celebrity guests: Beyonce, Jay-Z, Ana de Armas and Natalie Portman
Reservations are required. Italian chef embraces nouveau cuisine with main courses that include the Duck Le Chansonnier, chicken breast with a tamarindo sauce.
6 recommendations: Saveur, Thrillist, The Guardian, National Geographic, CNN and The New York Times recommend it.
Reservations are required. They serve Creole Cuban cuisine with a menu that includes Ropa Vieja del Chorro, the house specialty.
5 recommendations: Thrillist, The Guardian, National Geographic, The Culture Trip and The New York Times recommend it.
Reservations are required. Seafood with views of the sea. Items on the menu include the octopus carpaccio.
5 recommendations: The Guardian, National Geographic, The Culture Trip, CNN and The New York Times recommend it.
The restaurant is in a 20th-century mansion. Cuban dishes include the Solomillo de Cerdo a la Campesina
Address: 469 San Rafael.
3 recommendations: Thrillist, The Guardian and The Culture Trip recommend it.
Prominent guest: U.S. President Barack Obama.
The restaurant is under an imposing brick chimney and requires going up three flights of circular stairs to an outdoor terrace. Tapas are their specialty. Some of them include the Croquetas de Pescado, Chorizos Parrilleros and the Empanadillas.
3 recommendations: Saveur, Thrillist and The Culture Trip recommend it.
Celebrity guest: Katy Perry
The restaurant's menu includes seafood, lamb, pork, chicken and veal options.
3 recommendations: National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler and bonappetit recommend it.
The restaurant serves sushi at a small fisherman's wooden house.
Phone: 53-5-264-5843 and 53-7-272-4998
2 recommendations: Thrillist and bonappetit recommend it.
A casual restaurant serves Italian food. The menu doesn't include pizza.
Address: At Pjea between Libertad and Victoria.
2 recommendations: Saveur and Thrillist recommend it.