Legal paladares had all closed at last visit.
Budget hounds might try Café Cantante Benny Moré (Prado y Av. 54, Sun.–Fri. 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–6 p.m.), serving simple criollo fare for pesos. No tank tops are allowed.
Dino’s Pizza Nova (Calle 31, e/ 54 y 56, tel. 043/55-2020, daily noon–4 p.m. and 6:30–10:30 p.m.) has a Mediterranean feel suitable to its menu of basic pizzas and pastas (from CUC5).
On the east side of Parque Martí , Restaurante Polinesia (tel. 043/51-5723, daily noon–3 p.m. and 6–10 p.m.) retains a 1950s tiki motif, and pineapple finds its way onto the criollo menu (CUC5 and under).
For colonial atmosphere, opt for Restaurante La Verja (Av. 54, e/ 33 y 35, tel. 043/51-6311, daily noon–3 p.m. and 6–10 p.m.), which serves criollo staples (lobster CUC10) in a colonial home full of antiques.
Despite the filthy tablecloths, plan on dining at Hotel Jagua’s Palacio de Valle (tel. 043/55-1003 ext. 812, daily 10 a.m.–10 p.m.) for the remarkable ambience. It has a large seafood menu, including overpriced lobster (CUC25), though dishes are average. Carmen Iznaga tickles the ivories of an out-of-tune piano.
You might want to go dressy to Restaurant Marinero (tel. 043/51-2891, daily noon–10 p.m.), a chic seafront restaurant with walls of glass. The seafood menu features paella (CUC10) and lobster (CUC15), plus chicken with wine (CUC9).
Downtown, the nicest place is Restaurante 1869 (Av. 54 y Calle 31, tel. 043/55-1020, daily 7–9:45 a.m., noon–2:45 p.m., and 7–9:45 p.m.) in the Hotel Unión, with elegant period decor. The menu features ceviche (CUC5), cream of seafood soup (CUC3.50), garlic shrimp (CUC15), and grilled sirloin with green pepper and asparagus (CUC14).
Coppelia (Calle 37, esq. 52, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Tues.–Sun.) is good for ice cream (pesos only).
For an espresso or cappuccino head to the Café Teatro Terry on Parque Martí.
Delicious fresh fruit batidos (shakes) will help you beat the heat at La Casa del Batido (Av. 37, e/ 52 y 54, daily 9 a.m.–10 p.m.).