The Hotel Nacional is a must-see fabulous place. In the heart of the city overlooking the Malecón you will drive past it repeatedly. There are a number of restaurants within the grounds of which La Barraca is probably the best. Set in the lovely gardens under a traditional thatched roof (ranchón style), the restaurant serves drinks in ceramic mugs and provides a great value all-you-can-eat Creole Special featuring rice, beans, salad, chicken and pork for CUC 8.95, which is great value especially if you are in any way hungry.
It is difficult to understate just how gorgeous the gardens are. This is Cuba’s landmark hotel, which dominates the centre of the Malecón and commands a magnificent view along Cuba’s premier oceanfront boulevard and out to sea. La Barraca is slightly set back from the cliff edge and lives life in almost permanent shade, which is a welcome relief in the hot summer months, less so in the winter when it can get positively chilly, especially if the wind is blowing.
This is an easy place to come to. You will almost always get a table and the creole food is good quality; not quite the best, but good especially for a state-run hotel. The menu is a la carte and features the normal steaks and chicken but really go for the all-you-can-eat Creole special.