La Guarida, Havana, Cuba

La Guarida, Havana, Cuba

Most everyone I spoke to who had been to Havana recently recommended the upscale paladar La Guarida for dinner — the place where Cuban director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea filmed Strawberry & Chocolate. It’s one of the few places offering elegantly served quality food; we learned they send their chef to France to learn to cook.

We walked up the crumbling grand staircase to the restaurant above and — since it was raining —  skipped the new rooftop bar. Our starters from the varied menu included thin slices of fresh snapper carpaccio with a pepper sauce and citrus vinaigrette ($8), an unusual seafood “lasagna”with “noodles” of thinly sliced papaya garnished with citrus and a beautifully presented eggplant caviar in a tomato coulis.

We had just been served our entrees of suckling pig with orange honey reduction ($18) and three tenderloin ($22) each with a different topping —  blue cheese, green pepper and bearnaise — when a group of noisy young folks were seated across the way. The waiter took our under-cooked meat (it was raw, not medium) back to finish cooking. By this time, the laughs, shouts and screams from the young entitled man (he spoke loudly about this year’s vintage wine) with his four even younger women (his concubines?) disrupted the dining room as they continued to chug shooters. That noise was so bad, that when the restaurant tried to seat other parties in the room, they refused. Had we not been served our entrees, we would have moved too, as we were unable to talk over their boisterousness.

What was most disturbing was that the manager had no control of the situation. He did nothing about their deafening disruption ruining his other patron’s meals, nor the fact that his other customers refused to be seated in that room. He didn’t ask them to tone it down; nor did he apologize to any of us. A man in need of management training for sure!

We finished our meal with a deconstructed almond “lemon pie” ($8), their housemade chocolate and vanilla ice cream ($4) and a headache from the pandemonium.

If you go, keep in mind that currently American-based credit cards are not accepted; some places accept European ones. You’ll need cash. And be sure to make a reservation.


– bonnie


La Guarida
Concordia No.418 /Gervasio y Escobar
Centro Habana
Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba





About the Author:

Blogger Bonnie Tandy Leblang has been covering food since before it was hip to do so! She’s penned magazine, newspaper and syndicated food columns in addition to cookbooks. Follow her on twitter @BonnieBOTB and on Instagram@BiteoftheBest and at @BonnieBOTB "I eat for a living!” is her mantra, sharing what she’s sampled so you’ll know where (or where not) to go, plus what food products and gadgets to try. For her full bio go to the about us page.


  1. Karen Pagonis May 1, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I loved LaGuarida. It is a must do when in Havana. Food was inventive and on the whole, very good. The snapper carpaccio was excellent. Not only is the food worth a stop, but La Guarida is housed in an impressive paladar. The grand street entrance with 15 foot carved wooden doors leads to a large foyer with a circular balustraded marble stairway which leads you enticingly ever upwards exactly like the French 18th century hotel particulars. Its glory is faded, but remains. In the dining rooms there are examples of Cuban contemporary art which I found interesting. Surprisingly, for Cuba the kitchen is open for viewing to all patrons so one can see the cooking and assembly of each plate. Lastly, there is an open air terrace available for dining with views over Havana’s rooftops.

    Other than not to have loud obnoxious fellow diners, what more can you ask?

  2. Bonnie from May 2, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Great comments about the structure and restaurant! Thanks Karen

  3. Maria Brandriff May 11, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Karen’s assessment of La Guarida is totally on point. For me, the experience of the amazing crumbling, but yet incredibly beautiful building was as memorable as the food. Up to that point, my experience with Cuban food was not stellar. We also did not experience noise from other diners. So sorry your enjoyment was marred by that unfortunate occurence, Bonnie.

  4. Bonnie from May 12, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Her assessment IS fab!

    Our food was really good and nicely presented…. We also had many other pretty good meals (for Cuba!) Most of which I have will be posting about later this month.

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