It would take a hard heart indeed to be immune to the charms of Leticia, the owner of Doña Eutemia. Small, old, personal, she wants an intimate place where you come to relax. So much so, that she states she wants you to linger, even if she has a long line outside. This paladar is located opposite an artist’s workshop within a few meters of the large state restaurant, El Patio, on Cathedral Square. The contrast could not be greater. The bar area has a modern coffee shop lounge feel (think Friends) with comfortable sofas, bright cushions and good music (modern lounge). There are many small pieces from Old Havana dotted around the place including in the main dining room, which has soft lighting and lots of nice touches. While there is seating outside and in another side room, we like these less.
While Leticia never knew how to cook, she has developed a very traditional Cuban menu based on memories of her mother’s dishes. She does not like to invent new dishes or to mix with a modern touch. So look for tamal, ropa vieja (shredded beef), pork, rice and beans cooked with original flavours. Don’t underestimate how good these dishes can be done, right. I am not really a fan of Cuban traditional cuisine but loved everything we ate here, not to mention an excellent fillet mignon as well as garlic octopus.
We have only one real complaint, with regret, since we love the place–it has to be pointed out that if the place is full, you will not get much of anything in a hurry so take your newspaper and a healthy dose of patience.
This paladar has a lot of “ups” — it has actually been acclaimed by major news organizations such as The New York Times, and the Daily Beast called it one of the best 101 restaurants in Latin America (what about that?) True it is good… it is good Cuban food. But the garlic octopus is beyond good, it is amazing. Make sure to order extra bread for this appetizer, because you will want to dip it into the wonderful garlic-infused olive oil in which the octopus is served. Don’t miss it!