In 2016, I took my first trip to Havana, a city that was entirely unfamiliar to me at the time. Havana felt like a whole new world. As I walked around the city, everything seemed exotic, from the busy streets to the colorful buildings and vibrant culture.
While exploring the charming streets of Havana, I stumbled upon O’Reilly 304. This trendy but casual restaurant was located in the heart of Habana Vieja, Havana’s historic Old Town. Despite its small size, my visit to O’Reilly 304 ended up being one of my favorite memories from the trip.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of visiting Havana on three separate occasions. Each time I return to the city, one of my top food destinations is O’Reilly 304 for its handcrafted cocktails, elevated Cuban and international dishes, and welcoming service. And, at prices that won’t break the bank.
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Interior of O’Reilly 304
The décor and ambiance of O’Reilly 304 might have been more impressive than the food. When I passed through the doors and into the restaurant, I felt like I was stepping into another world.
While small, the space felt bright and open with large windows, tall ceilings, and two floors. On the first floor was a small dining room with an attached bar. Upstairs was another small, but larger, dining area.
The décor paid tribute to the diverse and distinctive architecture of Havana, blending Modernism with Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Everywhere I looked was something exciting from the tables, to the lighting, to the bar.
This included black retro tables, patterned floors, metal chairs, hanging lights, and paintings. My favorite piece was a copy of Nighthawks, hanging on the wall of the first floor. This painting by painter Edward Hopper is one of the most famous paintings in American art.
O’Reilly 304 Menu
The menu at O’Reilly 304 was simple and straightforward, spanning only four pages. And, only one page was dedicated to food. Food choices included starters, soups, salads, main courses, pasta, desserts, and sides.
Despite its simplicity, the menu boasted a wide variety of dishes, blending Cuban fare with international cuisine. There were also several unique items not typically found at other restaurants in Havana.
The other three pages of the menu were reserved for beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. The extensive list featured a diverse range of drinks including Cuban and international cocktails, rum, whiskey, tequila, liqueurs, creams, and wine. The non-alcoholic section featured soft drinks, lemonade, bottled water, coffee, and tea.
And, with most dining establishments in Havana, a service charge of 10% was included in the final bill.
O’Reilly Tacos (Tacos Mixtos)
First up was the O’Reilly Tacos (Tacos Mixtos). Although tacos are not a traditional Cuban dish, they remain popular in Cuba and are not uncommon to find on menus in Havana. While I was uncertain about the type of tacos when I ordered, it seemed like the perfect plate to share.
Despite being a simple taco dish, the presentation was both colorful and beautiful. On the plate were three tacos accompanied by a side of tender, luscious, and savory black beans.
Stuffed inside each thin, fresh flour tortilla were large chunks of grilled fish. I am unsure exactly what type of fish was used, but each piece was moist and tender with a fresh, salty flavor. And, a squeeze of the lime brought out the brightness of the fish.
Topping each taco was a pico de gallo made from sliced onions, diced tomatoes, and mild green peppers. The fresh slaw, with its crispy texture and colorful ingredients, complemented the savory and salty fish.
Though simple, the combination of flavors, textures, and colors made the O’Reilly Tacos a great choice.
Chicken Curry Pasta (Pasta de Pollo al Curry)
As a curry food lover, I couldn’t resist ordering the Chicken Curry Pasta (Pasta de Pollo al Curry). This dish came with penne pasta, chicken, and sautéed vegetables in a curry sauce.
When the dish was brought to my table, it was piping hot, straight out of the kitchen. I patiently waited for a few minutes for it to cool down before taking my first bite. But the wait was worth it.
The first thing that caught my attention was the creamy, buttery curry sauce. While simple, the sauce was complex with a distinct turmeric aroma. Not too thick or thin, the sauce covered every piece of pasta and chicken.
The al dente penne had a texture that was both firm yet tender. I am unsure if it was on purpose or not, but some of the pieces of pasta appeared to be halved. But, this did not affect the texture or flavor of the pasta.
Complementing the pasta were large chunks of chicken that had been cooked to tender perfection, with a moist and succulent interior. Bringing this dish together were sautéed vegetables including tomatoes and green onions along with a sprinkling of parsley.
Despite its simplicity, the chicken curry pasta was bursting with flavors, aromas, and textures that satisfied my craving for curry. And, it was quite filling. While not a traditional Cuban dish, I would not hesitate to order it again.
On my visit to O’Reilly 304 on a Wednesday afternoon, the restaurant was not very busy. Only two workers were present in the front of the house, including a bartender. However, despite the lack of customers and workers, the service I received was attentive.
My server was friendly and always available to offer recommendations, take orders, and bring more drinks when needed. And, food arrived quickly and correctly.
One notable observation I made during my visit was the behavior of the bartender. When there was not much work for him to do, he kept going outside the restaurant. He seemed to know everyone in the neighborhood and talked with many people who were walking by. While this did not affect the service I received, I enjoyed watching the daily life of locals passing by.
I have been to Cuba three times in the past 10 years, and on each trip, I have found myself returning to O’Reilly 304. On my visits, I have enjoyed everything about O’Reilly 304 from the food and drinks to the service and ambiance.
Although some of the dishes may seem simple, each dish I have tried on my visits have been executed perfectly in an elevated fashion. This is what makes the restaurant stand out from others in Havana. Moreover, the prices are quite reasonable for the quality of food and location.
O’Reilly 304 is undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in Havana. And, this is why I keep returning and would recommend it for any visitor to Havana.
- Eclectic décor
- Friendly service
- Freshly prepared cocktails
- Simple yet elevated dishes
- While reasonably priced, dishes can be more expensive than other restaurants in the area
- Limited seating
O'Reilly #304, Havana, Cuba
GPS Coordinates: 23.13929,-82.35343
Last Updated on January 23, 2024