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Cuba Paladar & Restaurant

Entrance of Paladar La Guarida Havana Paladares are the independent, state sanctioned, family run restaurants of Cuba. Since the beginning of the Cuban government's quest to open up their country to democratic economic reforms, paladares were one of the first and only enterprises to fall under these reforms.

Rules stipulate that they must be strictly family run and must cook rustic Cuban food (i.e. no lobster or chicken breast as they are reserved only for the tourist hotels). Within these and other strict guidelines, such as being one of the few taxed businesses in a communist country, they have flourished. So much so, it is these paladares that tourists seek out over other state and hotel run restaurants. The food is authentic, wholesome and inexpensive.

Based on my personal experience and first hand travel experiences from other travelers to Cuba, it can be concluded that the number one problem for tourists there is finding a decent place to eat. Before the emergence of paladares, choices were limited to either expensive state run hotel restaurants and cafeterias or snack stands along the streets. The little bodegas, Cuban national eating places, were off limits for the most part to tourists as they accepted only Cuban pesos. With the Cuban government opening up its shores to international tourism in 1993 and allowing the privatization of paladares in 1995, things began to change.

Today, paladares abound. The main problem with them is that the legal ones are taxed so high that many do not have the money to advertise. Many times they will hire a "tout", or guide, to help bring in customers. Of course, the guides work on commission only, and therefore tend to favor only those paladares from which they can profit and push up the prices also. There are also illegal paladares, but they seem to close as fast as they open. This of course, is why there is a dilemma for tourists.

 

 

 

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