Paladars are civilian owned restaurants which run a wide gamut from sidewalk coffee and pizza stands to palatial 5 star quality eateries. The evolution of the Paladar in Cuba dates back to the early nineties. In those days street hustling guides led parties of visitors up unlit, un-railed stairs to illegal, unlicensed sources of some of the best food on the island.
Today, the privately owned restaurants are legal, inspected by health inspectors and along with the Casa Paticulars are creating Cuba’s first middle class since the revolution. Popping up all over the island, these establishments offer the best value in dining with the average meal priced around ten dollars. In some of the peso restaurants catering to Cubans the cost can be as low as two or three bucks.
The menus vary offering a variety of locally grown, caught or raised entries of seafood, poultry and sides of fresh fruits and vegetables. La Giraldilla – located a couple of kilometers west of Marina Hemingway – features waterfront dining and tender seven dollar sirloin steaks– something unheard of in Cuba just a few years back at any price.
And, as with Casa Particulars and private taxis, your money is injected directly into the Cuban private sector where it does the most good. So when you ask directions for a good restaurant, use the term Paladar. You and Cuba will be the better for it.