Fresh Potato Chips
Fresh potato chips from a window on the same side of Paseo de Prado as the Hotel Saratoga, across from the capital. The potato chips were thick and dark, just the way I like them. This place also sells western omelette sandwiches for breakfast, which I wanted to love but just couldn't.
Freshly Fried Churros
The line outside the churro street vendor was a good sign. So was the fact that he was making them to order in clean oil. These churros were light, crispy, and chewy, and the fact that they were slightly greasy somehow added to their appeal.
Coils of churro sizzle in the hot oil.
French Fries from Restaurante Mangle Rojo
The fresh, twice-cooked French fries from my favorite pizzeria in Havana were also seriously delicious. This was probably the best meal we had in Havana.
Restaurante Mangle Rojo: Ave 1ra # 2 entre calle 11 y 12 | Guanabacoa, Havana 11111, Cuba
Roast Pork by the Kilo
You can eat your meal at the regular restaurant at El Palenque and get roast pork as your main dish, and you will be rewarded with a perfectly fine plate of food featuring extraordinarily good rice and beans, or you can maximize your pork-derived serious eating pleasure by ordering it by the kilo at the take-out section of the restaurant.
The pork is juicier, porkier, and, well, better, and if you insist the expert pork cutters will give you as much crusty exterior meat as you want. There's a one-kilo minimum, which became a problem for us because we had already eaten a big lunch at the sit-down restaurant and my wife Vicky refused to let our hotel room smell like a porketeria for our remaining three days in Havana. So the folks in the park across from our hotel were the lucky recipients of most of my kilo. Warning: there is pizza on the menu here. Suffice to say that it is a definite skip.
El Palenque: Calle 17 & Calle 190, Havana Playa, Cuba
Fried Calamari and Onion Combo
A brilliant idea. Combine two ingredients that take to frying naturally and cook them in the fryer together. I don't know if it was MacArthur Genius grant-brilliant, but it was perfectly executed and mighty tasty.
Roasted Peanuts in Cones
Freshly roasted, just salty enough peanuts are sold all over Havana in tiny, long white cones. How cheap are they? When I wanted to get rid of change on my last day, I gave a peanut vendor 50 cents. I got four little cones of peanuts.
Ice-cold Coconut Milk at the San Jose Market
Buy the whole coconut and the vendor will slice off the top with his machete, stick a straw or two in there, and hand you the whole thing. My wife Vicky and I enjoyed this one. The coconut milk is thin, sweet, and oh so coconutty. The only problem is you don't get your own machete to slice up rest of the coconut meat. As far as we can tell, they weren't selling machetes at the market, perhaps for national security reasons.
San Jose Market: Ave. del Puerto, Havana, Cuba
Fresh Pineapple Frozen Dacquiri at Rio Mar
I wanted to love the food at Rio Mar, which overlooks the water and a very noisy disco. That didn't happen, though it was perfectly fine (like most of the food I ate in Havana), but the fresh pineapple frozen daiquiri was frozen woos-y drink heaven.
Rio Mar: 3A y Final # 11, La Puntilla, Miramar, Havana, Cuba
Havana is an amazing place, full of lots and lots of culture: music (as seen here on the street), dance, and art.