Don your finest togs to dine at Hotel E Plaza’s
Restaurante Arcada (tel. 041/32-7102, daily 7:30–10 p.m.), on the east side of Parque Central. Gone are the days when it could barely muster a bocadito (sandwich). Now, enjoy a candlelight dinner of chicken in beer with rice (CUC5.25), or pork mignon with creole onion sauce and sour orange (CUC8).
Romance under the stars? Choose the patio of the Hostal E del Rijo (Calle Honorato del Castillo #12, tel. 041/32-8588, daily 7:30–10 a.m., 11 a.m.–3 p.m., and 6–10:30 p.m.). The food’s pretty good too, although the menu is limited. How about tuna with olive salad (CUC4), pork mignon with creole sauce (CUC9), and caramel pudding (CUC3)?
Mesón de la Plaza (Máximo Gómez #34, tel. 041/28546, daily 9 a.m.–8:30 p.m.), opposite Hostal E del Rijo, is styled as a Spanish bodega, with rough-hewn tables and cowhide chairs. Try the garbanzo mesonero (garbanzo with bacon, pork, and sausage) or ensalada de garbanzo (baked chickpeas, green peas, onions, and peppers, CUC1.50), and baked chicken in orange (CUC4.50), washed down with sangria.
Penny-pinchers might try Restaurante El Conquistador (Agramonte Oeste, tel. 041/32-6803, daily noon–2 p.m. and 6–9 p.m.), which serves tortillas (from three pesos) and roast pork (12 pesos), and offers set meals for five pesos.
You can buy produce at the mercado agropecuario (Independencia, esq. Honorato, Mon.–Sat. 7 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.–noon).
For baked goodies, try Panadería La Diana (Tirso María and Máximo Gómez).
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition