Doña Eutimia is a paladar, or small restaurant, situated in a tranquil alleyway near Cathedral Square (Plaza de la Catedral) in Havana, Cuba. Despite being situated in the center of Old Havana (Habana Vieja), a bustling and touristy area, the restaurant’s location seemed calm and peaceful.
Paladar is a term used in Cuba to describe a small, family-owned restaurant that serves local cuisine. Although they were once illegal until the 1990s, today these privately owned establishments are a popular dining option. And, they serve as a counterpart to state-run restaurants.
If you are planning on visiting Doña Eutimia, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the restaurant is small and popular, so it is advisable to visit during off-peak hours or midweek. Or, you can make a reservation. Second, several other restaurants are situated on the same alley, some of which are inferior in quality. You might see their workers trying to lure unsuspecting tourists to their establishments, so it’s important to be cautious. Just remember that Doña Eutimia is located at the end of the alleyway on the right hand side.
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Interior of Doña Eutimia
I’ve visited Doña Eutimia on two occasions, and on both instances, the weather was perfect. As a result, I opted for an outdoor table rather than an indoor one. Despite being situated at the end of an alleyway, the surroundings were far from dull. The people watching was lively, and with some luck, you might even be treated to live music.
Although I have never dined inside the restaurant, during my last visit, I took a peak at its interior. The inside appeared spacious and bright with beige walls and bursts of color from the red seats.
The Cuban charm was further enhanced by dark brown accents, vintage photographs, old clocks, window shutters, and antique lights. When I imagine a paladar in Cuba, this is the ambiance that comes to mind.
Doña Eutimia Menu
The menu at Doña Eutimia was straightforward with one page dedicated to food and another to drinks. Food options ranged in price from 200 CUP to 1300 CUP. Drink options ranged in price from 100 CUP to 1000 CUP.
The food section featured cold starters (entrantes fríos), hot starters (entrantes calientes), rice dishes (arroz), side dishes (guarniciones), main courses (platos principales), and desserts (postres). This included popular Cuban dishes such as croquettes, shredded lamb (ropa vieja), and grilled chicken (pollo grille). And just a note, if you order a main course, it will come with a side of white rice and black beans.
The menu’s second page featured a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. For those looking for alcoholic options, there were beers, wines, cocktails, and, being in Cuba, a selection of local Cuban rums. Non-alcoholic options included coffee, tea, lemonade, bottled water, soft drinks, juices, and more.
As is customary in most restaurants in Havana, a 10% service charge was added to the final bill.
Traditional Mojito (Mojito Tradicional)
Although the menu had several fantastic cocktail options, you can never go wrong with the Traditional Mojito (Mojito Tradicional). Made with Havana Club 3 Year Old Rum and an ample amount of fresh mint, this cocktail not only looked stunning but also tasted great. It was the ideal beverage on a hot day in Havana.
Leticia Croquettes (Croquetas de Leticia)
For a starter, I selected the Leticia Croquettes (Croquetas de Leticia) (400 CUP or about $2.58), The croquettes, and the dipping sauce, looked simple but beautiful.
Each croquette was fried to perfection with a flaky breading that was crumbly but not too crunchy or soggy. They were just right. On the inside was a tender and moist filling of cheese and what I thought was minced chicken. Whatever it was, it was creamy, rich, and salty. I enjoyed how the cheesy filling inside complemented the crispy, golden brown breading.
The dipping sauce served on the side had a taste which reminded me of ketchup. But, it had a thinner consistency and slightly sweeter flavor. The umami flavor of the sauce, reminiscent of Worcestershire sauce, complemented the richness of the croquettes. Also on the plate were four small colorful dabs of a sweet creamy puree. Its flavor was similar to that of a yam puree. I just wanted more of it.
Candied Fried Pork (Masas de cerdo Doña Eutimia)
Next up was Candied Fried Pork (Masas de cerdo Doña Eutimia) (1200 CUP or about $7.74). This dish was made with candied fried pork cubes, banana fufú, and caramelized onions. When ordering this dish, I had no idea what to expect. But, I am always opened minded to new flavors and foods.
The candied pork was so tender and delicate that I could cut through each piece with my fork. I anticipated its flavor to be sweet, but this was not the case. Instead, the pork was salty and smoky in flavor after being grilled. I enjoyed how I could taste the flavors of the pork without it being too sweet or smoky. Topping the pork were tender yet crunchy caramelized onions. The onions added texture while complementing the richness of the pork.
Hidden under the pork was banana fufú. To make this starchy dish, you boil or steam green plantains or yams and then mash them into a doughy consistency. While common in the Carribean and Africa, banana fufú was a novelty to me. Its texture and flavor reminded me of mashed potatoes. On its own, the banana fufú might have seemed out of place, but it worked well with the candied pork.
Accompanying the dish were crunchy fried plantains and a trio of sweet, creamy purees that resembled the ones served with the croquettes.
Shredded Lamb (Ropa Vieja del Chorro)
Next up was the Shredded Lamb (Ropa Vieja del Chorro) (1200 CUP or about $7.74) made with shredded lamb in a red sauce with dry and natural spices. While simple, ropa vieja is the national dish of Cuba. And, no visit to Cuba is complete without trying it.
Almost every restaurant in Havana has ropa vieja on their menu. This savory stew is made with shredded and braised beef simmered in a rich tomato-based sauce infused with onions, peppers, and olives. Although beef is common, ropa vieja is also made with lamb, just like at Doña Eutimia.
The shredded lamb, which had been braised for hours, was tender and moist with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Although this might sound strange, the tomato based sauce brought back memories of the sloppy joes I had during my childhood. The flavor of the sauce was similar, being rich, sweet, and tart. But this was not a bad thing as the sauce was delicious with bold and satisfying flavors. Infused into the sauce were sautéed tomatoes and peppers which elevated the overall flavors and textures of the sauce.
As with the croquettes and candied fried pork, served on the plate were those same crispy fried plantains and sweet purees along with a grilled pepper.
Rice and Black Beans (Arroz Blanco y Frijoles Negros)
As mentioned before, each main course comes with complimentary rice and black beans (arroz blanco y frijoles negros). The rice and beans were modestly prepared but cooked to perfection. Among the two, the black beans were my favorite with their luscious, velvety texture and salty, sweet flavor enhanced by the pleasant aroma of bay leaves. Although uncomplicated, the rice and beans served as an excellent accompaniment to the main dishes.
During my visit to Doña Eutimia, the restaurant wasn’t crowded as it was a midweek afternoon. Since it was a beautiful day in Havana, I took a seat at one of the outdoor tables. Right when I sat down, I was greeted by a friendly server who gave me her recommendations and asked what I would like to drink.
Throughout the meal, I found the service to be attentive without being intrusive, allowing me to enjoy my meal. And, everything I ordered was brought to my table correctly and in a timely manner.
The only thing I would note was how my server did not inquire whether I wanted another mojito. But, it didn’t matter as I had no plans to order another one. Then again, with how delicious the mojitos were, maybe I would have gave in an ordered one.
No trip to Cuba would be complete without a visit to a paladar, a small, local restaurant which specializes in Cuban fare. There are several paladars scattered throughout Havana, some of which are costly and require reservations weeks in advance.
If you’re seeking an affordable and casual paladar in the heart of Old Havana, then Doña Eutimia would be an excellent option. Although the menu was simple, it included numerous classic Cuban dishes such as grilled chicken (pollo grille) and shredded lamb (ropa vieja). Moreover, the restaurant had an impressive collection of cocktails, including local Cuban rums.
With tasty food, affordable prices, friendly service, and central location, I would recommend a visit to Doña Eutimia on your next visit to Havana.
- Delicious, scratch made Cuban dishes
- Attentive service
- Central location
- Busy on weekends and peak hours
Callejon del Chorro #60-C, La Habana, Cuba
GPS Coordinates: 23.14052,-82.35208
Last Updated on October 23, 2023