|Paladar Villa Lagarto Restaurant at the edge of Cienfuegos Bay. Photo: Tom Shess|
PRIVATE DINING AT ITS BEST
For me, one of the perks of taking a Discovery /Gate 1 tour was learning how well the U.S. and Cuban guides assigned to us knew the ins and outs of Cuban cuisine. For one, they taught us what a paladares were. Aside from being delicious, a paladar is a small, usually private home converted into a public restaurant.
Throughout our tour of Cuba, we split our dining experiences between paladars and established restaurants, including amazing breakfasts and dinners at Hotel Jagua in Cienfuegos and Hotel Nacional in Havana.
So many of Cuba’s paladars do not have signage. It’s an adventure to wind through residential and urban streets to find your dining location. Our guides Norkis and Daniel led us to some unbelievable dining treasures.
Listen in to guide Daniel Guzman aboard our tour bus: “There has been a change in our lunch venue (pause for a scattered round of boos), but we have a treat for you (louder cheers). Today, we’re trying a new paladar. Gate 1 has asked us to check it out and that’s what we’re going to do. Odlavin Castellanos Castillo, one of Cuba’s top chefs, who this year won a major European chef competition, runs it. His place is called ArteChef and it’s located on the West side of Havana...”
SAMPLE OF CUBAN PALADARS:
--Restaurante La Paella
--Villa Lagarto Restaurante
Calle 35 # 45 e /. Ave 0 and Litoral, La Punta , Cienfuegos , Cuba
|Paladar Il Divino, Southeast Havana. Photo: Michael Shess|
|Paladar La Moraleja, Havana, near Hotel Nacional|
|Cooking demonstration by Chef Castillo of ArteChef, Havana. Photo: Mike Shess|
|Birthday surprise for Michael Shess from group and staff of Villa La Garto Restaurante, Cienfuegos. |
Photo: Bruce Henderson