Anthony Bourdain in Havana: 7 Spots Where Tony Ate

For being so close, at times Cuba couldn’t feel further from the United States; it almost seems silly to younger generations that our Caribbean neighbor is so isolated and difficult to reach – but that has never stopped Tony Bourdain from visiting a place, thankfully.

Anthony Bourdain visited Havana to film season 7 (episode 9) of No Reservations and again to film season 6 (episode 2) of Parts Unknown; these two visits give us a glimpse into a place many of us will never visit – and show the progress Cuba is making despite the yo-yo of 21st-century geopolitical relations with her northern neighbor.

Anthony Bourdain in Havana Hero

As you might expect given U.S.-Cuba relations, there aren’t great resources online about many of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Havana, and I had a hard time finding links to help make that easier in this guide… but I did identify seven of the spots Tony ate in Havana, and what he ate there, which at least gives you a starting point. Let’s dive in.

Want to watch the episodes where Anthony Bourdain visits Havana?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV; and the Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV.

In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Taíno and Guanahatabey peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

No Reservations (2011)

There’s no place where you can see architecture like these.. and these cars! That’s how Tony opens the episode on Cuba. On his first visit to Cuba, Tony can’t believe how beautiful Cuba is and how beautifully unspoiled by the time La Habana – and pretty much the whole island – has remained. His mission for this show? Finding and revealing the Cuban heart. 

El Aljibe

Anthony Bourdain in Havana - Frijoles Dormidos

Tony first meets with Roberto Salas, a man who became the new regime’s favorite photographer. The two meet at El Aljibe, a restaurant known for its roast chicken. After showing him personal pictures of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Bourdain and Roberto enjoy roast chicken rice. But the star of the show is the frijoles negros dormidos (“sleeping beans”). Salas explains that they make the beans on Monday and eat them by Tuesday to thicken them up. 

Paladar “Los Amigos”

Tony’s second culinary stop is Paladar Los Amigos, a favorite restaurant among Cubans owned by Elizabeth Espinoza. He eats masa de cerdo – marinated pork, hacked up, and pan-fried served with a trinity of yucca, rice, and beans. 

Puerto de Sagua

Anthony Bourdain in Havana - Mojito

Puerto de Sagua is a random bar with a 40’s nautical theme where Tony stops for two tasks: sampling a mojito and catching up with his rum drinking. There’s food too in the menu. He orders an escabeche of kingfish cooked and marinated in syrup and served chill. They also add fish oil and vinegar to mix nicely with the rum and lime juice. 

El Templete

Anthony Bourdain in Havana - Fideuá

Tony’s last visit is Restaurante El Templete, a seafood restaurant with a Basque chef. They enjoy marmitako, a Spanish-basque seafood stew. It’s made with fresh tuna, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and a seafood broth. Next on the menu: fideuá. Similar to a paella with noodles instead of rice, squid, squid ink, giant prawns, and garlic alioli.

Parts Unknown (2015)

Bourdain paid a second visit to Cuba in 2015. What he finds this time is a Cuba where Raul Castro has allowed Cubans to establish more businesses and with that seems to be more open to external influence. In his culinary journey, Tony sets out to explore first-hand how these changes affect the Caribbean country in every sense: economic, cultural, and yes – of course –, gastronomic.

Fábrica de Arte

Anthony Bourdain in Havana - Ceviche

Fábrica de Arte is the new hotspot in La Habana – and certainly another great example of Cuba’s transition: it’s a nightclub, performing space, and art gallery. 

Tony enjoys a meal with the two entrepreneurs behind this new place. First, he has dogfish ceviche with pickled vegetables. Next, he enjoys a loin of pork pan seared with yucca with a riff on a traditional orange sauce with garlic and coriander.

Tien Tan

Anthony Bourdain in Havana - Szechuan Chicken

Bourdain meets Jon Lee Anderson, an American reporter for the New Yorker who interiorizes Tony in the conflicts Cuba experienced after the economy plummeted. The pair heads to Tien Tan in Havana’s Chinatown neighborhood; yep, Havana has a Chinatown too, like so many American cities.

To accompany the conversation, they enjoy dumplings and Szechuan chicken with a beer. 

Cafetería a la BBQ

Tony describes Cafetería a la BBQ as an example of a booming do-it-yourself industry. It’s a place where get a bang for your money. He eats fried pork, plantains, and silky beans. For dessert, he has flan de huevo cooked in a cutdown beer can. 

Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Havana? Let me know in the comments below!

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Agustina is a content writer and editor currently based in Argentina. She has a long-standing love affair with Italian food and meal. When she’s not indulging in a parmigiana, you can find her eating asado with a good glass of Malbec.

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