Antojos: Lunch in Havana, Cuba

Antojos in Havana, Cuba
Lively exterior of Antojos in Havana, Cuba

Antojos is a hip and trendy restaurant serving classic Cuban fare, located on the edge of Habana Vieja, Havana’s old town. This area, located near the Museum of the Revolution, is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Havana to explore. Here, you will find narrow alleyways lined with historic buildings housing small restaurants and bars.

One of these alleyways, Espada Alley, is where you will find Antojos. It’s hard to miss the restaurant with red parasols lining its exterior and lively music emanating from inside the restaurant.

While Antojos may not be the most affordable restaurant in Havana, it offers a high-quality dining experience with a menu that features delicious Cuban dishes. This includes croquettes and ropa vieja (shredded beef). They also offer an extensive drink menu featuring handmade cocktails.

Interior of Antojos

Bright and open interior of Antojos, Havana, Cuba
Bright and open interior of Antojos

I would describe the décor of Antojos as mid-century modern, paying homage to 1950s Havana while embracing the future.

On the first floor was an open dining room with a red brick wall with the name ‘Antojos’ boldly displayed. Mixed in were vibrant pops of color, murals, and Instagram-worthy neon signs. Everywhere you looked, there was something to catch the eye.

The ambiance was lively with music blaring and young, hip individuals enjoying drinks and food over conversations. However, some might find it a little too loud.

During lunch, the ambiance was inviting and casual. I imagine that at night, it becomes more intimate and romantic, ideal for those seeking a date spot.

Since it was so loud on the first floor, I ventured up to the second floor where it was not as loud. On the second floor was a covered patio that was equally bright and modern, offering views of the surrounding area.

There was also a friendly house cat that wandered from table to table, greeting guests in hopes of a friendly petting.

Second floor of the restaurant, Antojos, Havana, Cuba
Second floor of the restaurant

Antojos Menu

The menu at Antojos, Havana, Cuba
The menu at Antojos

Of all the restaurants I ate on my weeklong trip to Havana, none were as straightforward as the menu at Antojos. I enjoyed not having to read through an entire book trying to decide what to order. But while simple, the menu was anything but dull.

For food, you had various options such as starters, tacos, main courses, side dishes, and desserts. I don’t think there was one main course option that did not sound amazing. There was something for everyone. And, I wanted to try it all.

Similarly, their drink menu was quite extensive, featuring an assortment of cocktails, wines, beers, bottled water, juices, and more.

And, as with most restaurants in Havana, a 10% service charge was included in the final bill.

White Rice and Bean Soup (Arroz Blanco and Potaje)

An order of White Rice and Bean Soup (Arroz Blanco and Potaje), Antojos, Havana, Cuba
An order of White Rice and Bean Soup (Arroz Blanco and Potaje)

Although the White Rice (Arroz Blanco) was simple, it was prepared perfectly. Similarly, the Bean Soup (Potaje) was uncomplicated but had a delectable and creamy texture with a savory and slightly sweet taste. I enjoyed the combination of rice and beans which complemented each other.

Home Croquetes (Croquetas de la Casa)

Home Croquetes (Croquetas de la Casa), Antojos, Havana, Cuba
Home Croquetes (Croquetas de la Casa)

First up, for a starter, I went for the Home Croquetes (Croquetas de la Casa). Served with the croquettes was garlic butter and strawberry preserves.

While simple in appearance, each croquette was fried until perfectly golden brown on the outside. When I took a bite, I was impressed how flaky and crispy the breading was without being greasy.

Inside each croquette was a soft and creamy filling of what I believe was cheese and mashed potatoes. I enjoyed the contrast of the crispy breading and the soft stuffing.

Served on the side was a rich, salty, and creamy garlic sauce. It was so delicious that I could have eaten all of it on its own. Accompanying this was a strawberry preserve sauce that was both sweet and tart. Together, the creamy garlic sauce and sweet strawberry preserves enhanced the rich flavors of the croquettes.

A la Habanera Ground Beef (Picadillo a la Habanera)

A la Habanera Ground Beef (Picadillo a la Habanera), Antojos, Havana, Cuba
A la Habanera Ground Beef (Picadillo a la Habanera)

For my first main dish, I chose the A La Habanera Ground Beef (Picadillo a la Habanera).

The star of the dish, the ground beef, was rich, salty, and moist. The beef was mixed into a smoky tomato based sauce which, oddly enough, reminded me of a sloppy joe. But, the flavors were delicious.

Mixed in with the beef were tender, crunchy chunks of bell peppers, sweet raisins, and seedless olives. These additions complemented the rich beef while adding texture. I found the olives to be quite salty, which might be too much for some. But, the flavors paired well with a cold beer and Cuba Libre.

On the side was a assortment of pickled vegetables and sautéed plantains which were smoky, tender, and creamy. While simple, these sides paired well with the rich meat and salty olives.

Grilled Chicken (Pollo Grillé)

Grilled Chicken (Pollo Grillé), Antojos, Havana, Cuba
Grilled Chicken (Pollo Grillé)

The final dish I ordered on my trip to Antojos was the Grilled Chicken (Pollo Grillé). As the name implies, this simple dish came with charcoal grilled chicken, fried plantains, and pickled vegetables.

If you know me, then you know that I love grilled chicken, especially when it’s cooked over charcoal as it was at Antojos. The chicken thigh had a smoky, caramelized taste from being charcoal grilled. The charcoal enhanced the flavors of the chicken without being too overwhelming.

I appreciated that the chicken thigh was pounded thin with the skin left on. This added flavor and a richness from the skin while ensuring the meat cooked evenly, resulting in a moist texture.

Finishing off this dish were crispy fried plantains and pickled vegetables which were refreshing and crunchy.

Service

Of all the places I visited in Havana, none provided better service than Antojos. I found the service at Antojos to be attentive and friendly. Furthermore, my server was always around when needed and yet knew when to leave me to enjoy my meal. And lastly, food arrived promptly and correctly, even on a busy afternoon.

Conclusion

If you have visited Havana before, then you are aware of how many great restaurants there are in the city. And, Antojos is one of the those restaurants.

While not the cheapest option in Havana, the chefs at Antojos find a way to elevate their dishes, making them stand out from other restaurants serving similar dishes. While simple, both the beef and chicken dishes were delicious. Even the rice and beans stood out from other restaurants I visited on my trip.

With delicious food, a lively atmosphere, beautiful décor, and friendly service, anyone visiting Havana should add Antojos to their list of must visit places in Havana.

Pros

  • Beautiful and hip interior
  • Lively atmosphere
  • Outdoor patio
  • Friendly service

Cons

  • Loud

Hours

Monday-Sunday: 11:30AM-12:00PM

Address

Callejon Espada e/ Cuarteles y Chacon, Havana, Cuba
GPS Coordinates: 23.14160,-82.35521

Map



Last Updated on October 30, 2023

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.