El Chanchullero

CA5
Top Pick
Style of food: Spanish/Mediterranean
Cost: Cheap
Type of place: Paladar (private)
Food
Ambience
Service
Value
Best for: Amazing value and quality food in an authentic hole in the wall place with a good vibe.
Worst for: Can get hot during summer.
Calle Teniente Rey #457a, Habana Vieja
(+53)7872 - 8227
  • El Chanchullero has got to win the most surprisingly good place in Havana award. This looks like a hole in the wall place in a downright run down looking part of Old Havana. It is a hassle to get to by car and a little off the beautified Havana tourist track. It takes a while going in to realise what a find it is. A small bar and four wooden tables give little away. Settling in for a drink swiftly delivered by the attentive staff, the first clue is the music, loud, happy, European; modern without being pretentious or techno it sets the tone. The walls are covered with graffiti and photos, again the lack of pretension belie how well it has been thought through.

    The first time I looked at the menu I presumed that I should order two or three dishes, at CUC 3-4 per dish I presumed that they would be small, insubstantial dishes. Actually the food is the real revelation. Shrimp enchiladas are huge, tasty and served in a large earthen bowl Spanish style atop real fresh and well cooked vegetables. It is a feast. The chicken kebab is great, the pork decent and all round about the best food you can get of this style anywhere in Havana let alone for the price.

    Bear in mind that once the word gets out it may be difficult to get a table since they are limited and that there is no air-conditioning. This is not a VIP place but a Spanish style (think San Sebastian) tapas place of the first order.

    My only criticism of this place is that there is only one, Old Havana needs a hundred (at least) of these quality individual hole in the wall places, quite simply this is what adds dynamism to an area and could radically change Old Havana if given half a chance. Big thumbs up.

    
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