La Guarida is one of many paladar in Havana, Cuba. It sits on the 3rd floor of a private family home a couple of blocks from El Malecon. The neighborhood looks intimating due to the homes with missing roofs, Cubans staring at you while sitting outside on steps and roads with missing pavements. The area looks like a war-torn city resembling parts of Syria.
However, Cubans are very nice and helpful. The kids are laughing while taxis zipped through the streets and cigar sellers are trying to sell you a box of counterfeit cigars. The hostess has a huge and warm smile as you walk up. La Guarida is a fairly quaint restaurant with pictures of past patrons on the wall, which include multiple celebrities around the world. The multiple small dining rooms are nothing more than converted bedrooms. There’s a cool breeze running through the restaurant. The breeze pushes the smell of food to your nostrils making you salivate and stomach growl. The smell made me realize Cuban cuisine can compete with the best in the world like European or Asian cuisines. La Guarida Havana
La Guarida serves modern Cuban cuisine. It’s a very expensive restaurant relatively speaking to other Cuban restaurants and when considering the average Cubans’ monthly salary. The dishes range from 15 CUC to 30 CUC, which is equal to one to two months’ salary for Cubans. La Guarida considered by many locals to be the best restaurant in Havana and their pride and joy. It’s America’s French Laundry or London’s Fat Duck without the tasting menu. La Guarida Havana
La Guarida service was good, but don’t expect Michelin level service. The waitresses were all very nice, sweet and helpful with the Cuban flair. They all wore black dresses with their hair tied back and had a fair complexion. Imagine the Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love music video from the 80s minus the sharp bright red lipsticks. Yes, they all were very attractive. La Guarida Havana
Now, the food. La Guarida had a lot tasty looking items on the menu along with authentic high-end Cuban cigars. We settled on two dishes recommended by our waitress. La Guarida Havana
- Malanga Fritters – This complementary dish was a great way to start the meal. The crispy batter and soft interior was similar to a tater tot. However, it tasted very fresh and the guilty feeling of eating fried food was non-existent. The flavors were opposite of a tater tot. The Malanga was sweet instead of salty. Fantastic amuse bouche.
- Cordero a la Menta – Cordero is lamb. The lamb was slow cooked with mint and accompanied with a creamy banana and Cuban rice. I really enjoyed this dish as it was one of my favorite lamb dishes to date. The chef’s ability to “tenderize” the lamb was phenomenon and the texture of the meat resemble a good medium-rare rib eye steak. It had a little spice to it for flavoring. The spiciness were a great complement to the overall dish adding to the overall robust flavors of the dish.
- Cochinillo Lechal Confitado – Conchillo Lechal Confitado is nothing more than Suckling pig. The Suckling pig was accompanied with dehydrated bananas and an orange honey reduction. The Suckling Pig had a crispy outer skin with buttery tender meat. The marriage of sweet and salty played out well like couples in their newlywed stage to annoyance after 5 years of marriage.
Overall, La Guarida is definitely a must-stop when in Havana. The restaurant’s charm and experience of dining in a private home is very different from other country’s fine dining experiences. It wasn’t stuffy. In addition, the amazing dishes with comforting flavors set in a private home-made you feel relax as the cool breeze whistle by. La Guarida Havana
Check out our other Havana articles here.
- Service - 8/108/10
- Presentation - 8/108/10
- Flavors - 8.5/108.5/10
- Decor - 8.5/108.5/10
- Ambiance - 8.5/108.5/10
La Guarida is easily Havana’s pride and joy. It’s international famous with multiple celebrities paying the restaurant a visit. The robust flavors of the dishes and the long cigar menu are enough to have you coming back for more.