Gourmet in Cuba?

A gourmet is a person with a delicate, refined palate, a sophisticated connoisseur of combinations of flavors with the ability to discover and certify quality. That word also refers us to a whole philosophy associated with the restoration, origin and preparation of food products, also known as gastrosophy. The term gourmet, refers to serving and presenting a table, which involves dressing well, good music, and a real bon vivant lifestyle that sublimates pleasures and makes them into spectacle.

Cuba is going through a gastronomy boom. The perception of basic gastronomy left by the harshest years of economic crisis has been left behind, and excellence is striving to take over, to find a space among the new businesses that are opening. Traditional Cuban cooking is adopting other nuances. Good cuisine is being made from what can be found at the market, and the standards of the most refined palate are being raised.

This momentum is being checked by difficult access to fresh and exclusive products and the impossibility of importing many raw materials that are essential for high-level food services. In the context of the island’s current economic opening, OnCuba selected some of the best restaurants in Havana and launched this questions: Does gourmet exist in Cuba?

Castropol_0605   Adrián Riera Muñoz
   Chef, Castropol

 For trying to do gourmet, the most important thing at Castropol  is the creativity and seriousness with which we work, even when  we don’t have the high quality raw materials needed to do so.  Without that, it’s very difficult to do gourmet. Nevertheless, we  offer a wide variety of attractive and competitive dishes for the most demanding tastes.

Calle Malecón no. 107 e/ Genios y Crespo, Centro Habana, La Habana (537) 861 4864/castrop@enet.cu 

Restaurante CastropolCastropol

Castropol Michael Melo
 Maître, Castropol

 I think that according to the type of culture and cooking found  in each country, the concept can be regionalized to make a  gourmet excellence service with certain standards to be met, but  each one conserving its identity.

Restaurante Castropol Castropol

El-Litoral_0086 Alain Rivas Chef, El Litoral

 When we designed the concept for our restaurant, we did not do  so with a gourmet character. However, the restaurant’s entire  menu has a very contemporary image. At El Litoral, we have  many types of fish, a lot of variety, and we always try to have it  fresh; sometimes the fish comes in during the day and never  reaches the freezer. We are always rethinking what we have, offering a different, pleasant, and interesting option.

Malecón no. 161 e/ K y L, El Vedado, La Habana (+537)7 8302201/ Cel. (+53)5 3446191/ www.ellitoralhabana.com

Restaurante El LitoralEl Litoral

 Café-Laurent_1202 Lorenzo Nieto
  Proprietor (Propietario) Café Laurent

 We could say that yes, gourmet is being done in Cuba. For me,  the concept can be a little bit flexible; it means coming to the  table and finding an initiative, a mixture of things that can  interesting in flavor, cooking, finish…. At Café Laurent, we work with the fusion of traditional Cuban food and today’s international standards, in portions, cooking, presentation, and image.

Calle M e/ 19 y 21, no. 257 Penthouse, El Vedado, La Habana, (537) 831 2090 / 832 6890/ lcafelaurent@yahoo.com

Café LaurentCafé Laurent


  Alberto Jesús Álvarez

  Chef, Río Mar

 If we look for interesting ways to present our traditional cuisine,  and to experiment with it, then we are doing gourmet. For    example, we could place ropa vieja [beef stew] on casabe [yucca flatbread] and it would have a lot of style. Gourmet is a philosophy of life, but it is also a commercial term, a marketing strategy for distinguishing a social class with more refined tastes.

Calle 3ra. y Final no. 11, La Puntilla, Miramar, (537) 209 48 38/ riomarbargrill@gmail.com

Río Mar Río Mar

Michel-Calvo-Habana-chef_9207 Michel Calvo, Chef, Atelier

 Atelier is a workshop of creation and good taste. The type of  customers we have gives us an idea of how we’re doing our job.  Every morning we go out to the market to buy whatever is there  and we change our menu to offer our customer an excellent  meal, well-presented and with many nuanced flavors. With that training and the ideal conditions, Cuba could be one of the places where you could really enjoy great food.

Calle 5ta. no. 511 altos, e/ Paseo y A, El Vedado, La Habana, (537) 836 2025/  atelierdecuba@yahoo.es

Atelier Atelier

La-Guarida_1688  Enrique Núñez
  Proprietor (Propietario) La Guarida

 A real movement is growing today that is going to radically  change what has been known as Cuban cooking. I think that it  would be very positive to have international exchange, fairs, and festivals; for cooks to come from other countries and present what’s happening in the world; and, to the extent possible, for our cooks to participate in events elsewhere so that they can bring themselves up-to-date. Open every day.

Concordia no. 418 e/ Gervasio y Escobar, Centro Habana, La Habana, (537) 866 9047/reservas@laguarida.com

 La GuaridaLa Guarida

Iván-chef-Justo_1721 Justo Alberto Pérez
 Chef and co-owner of Iván Chef Justo

 You can say that there is top-quality food, fabulous food,      without quite being gourmet.

Aguacate no. 9, esquina a Chacón, La Habana Vieja, La Habana
(537) 863 96 97, (53) 5 343 85 40, ivanchefsjustorestaurant@ yahoo.com

Iván Chef Justo
Iván Chef Justo

 Le-Chansonnier_1341 Dayron Ávila
  Chef, Le Chansonnier

Before the emergence of paladars (private restaurants), you would go to the market and find the same products year-round, the basics, but for some time now there has been more variety, especially with the development of the organic urban gardens, and I believe that is because of the growth of restaurant services in Cuba. But have you ever wondered why there are no “Michelin stars” in Cuba?

Calle J no. 257, e/ 15 y Línea, El Vedado, La Habana, (+537) 8321576

Le Chansonier
Le Chansonier

La-Moraleja_2267  Alberto Guerra
  Chef, La Moraleja

Gourmet is a product, it’s quality, even if all you’re doing is presenting two plantain chips with cream of tomato. It’s just tomatoes, fruits and fantasy; that’s what chefs are for: to create, to extrapolate from things that other people can’t see.

Calle 25 no. 454 e/ J e I, El Vedado, La Habana, (537) 8320963, (53)5 270 72 98/lamoraleja99@yahoo.es

La Moraleja
La Moraleja

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