The paladares are private restaurants, more or less encouraged by the state, depending on the mood of the regime. They take their name from paladar (palate), the organ of taste. Formerly, only members of the same family could put themselves at the helm of one of these ‘confidential' arrangements.
The rules have eased, but the experience remains just as rich: it's like eating at a friend's, who happens to be an excellent cook with intimate knowledge of the wonders of Cuban cuisine. For an upscale experience, go to Paladar Los Mercades, housed in a historic building.
Prices are higher than in most houses of this type, but the menu and ambience make it worth it: extra refined dishes, both Cuban and international, and, in the background, sweet melodies played on the violin. And just the right special touch: a staircase strewn with flower petals.
Paladar Los Mercaderes
Calle Mercaderes n° 207
10100 La Habana
+53 7 8612437
Menu: around 17 CUC