A "paladar" served the Obamas' first dinner in Cuba
Having stated that one of the main purposes of his official visit to the Caribbean island was to make contact with the Cuban people, president Barack Obama and his family had their first dinner in Cuba in a "paladar" (private restaurant), where they tasted dishes from the local traditional cuisine. This symbolic gesture was in total correspondence with Obama's intention to meet Cuban entrepreneurs, in order to facilitate more commercial relations between the U.S. and the island.
In the evening of his first day in Cuba, president Barack Obama dropped in at the San Cristobal Paladar, a privately owned restaurant in the populous and impoverished municipality of Centro Habana where many entrepreneurs have opened small businesses for tourists in the recent years.
The caravan that followed the famous presidential car called "the beast" crossed the narrow streets of the neighborhood and stopped in front of the green doors of a 20th-century building in San Rafael avenue, where the restaurant is located.
The Obamas descended under the pouring rain and waved hands to the Cubans that were standing nearby, who rapidly shared short videos on social networks.
The participation of the press in this peculiar dinner was strictly limited, but after the visit, the San Cristobal staff revealed to the media that the family tasted dishes from the Cuban traditional cuisine. Owner Raiza Perez told to Prensa Latina that the family also seemed to be very interested in the decoration of the place.
The Obamas ordered salmon as a starter and then the president sampled a "solomillo" (sirloin steak) as the main course. His wife Michelle ordered a dish called "Tentacion habanera" (Havana Temptation) and said that it was very similar to a dish that her grandfather used to cook for her family.
Obama took special notice of a portrait of singer Nat King Cole that hangs on one of the walls at the restaurant, among other photographs and paintings. The house is decorated in a very baroque style, with antique objects and books piled on wardrobes, tables, and chairs.
This kind of decoration is very common in private restaurants in Cuba, which are mostly based in their owners current or former homes. Tourists like to grasp the spirit of Cuban households by frequenting these kind of places.
The San Cristobal restaurant is considered one of the best 10 paladares in Havana according to Trip Advisor and The Guardian. The British newspaper points out that the Cuban-Creole food there surpasses:
"...the bland standard cuisine found in many state restaurants."
The visit of the presidential family is highly praised by the paladar's owner, who has previously received other famous guests like Michelle Bachelet, Mick Jagger, and Beyonce. Referring to Obama's visit, Perez said:
"For us, it was spectacular and also an honor. I think they have had a good time, and he (the U.S. president) was very gentle with us."
With this first dinner, Obama started to get into the spirit of Cuba's economic reforms, which since 2010 have opened more opportunities for the private sector to develop. Home restaurants are one of the most creative and successful areas within this emerging sector of the economy.
On the second day of the historic visit, part of the presidential delegation and the commander in chief of the White House itself participated in a Business Forum where he delivered a speech addressed to Cuban entrepreneurs.
Talk to a specialist
Call 020 7644 1770 to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.
Opening hours 09:00 - 21:00 GMT
Popular Holidays In Cuba Browse all
Escape to Cuba's sunkissed sands for an amazing price!
- The all-inclusive plan features 1 buffet restaurant, 2 A la carte, 3 snack bars and 3 bars.
- The Location on one of Varadero's best virgin beaches.
- Enjoy varied entertainment, including water sports, beach volleyball, tennis, evening performances and more.
Combine colourful and vibrant Havana with a relaxing summer 2017 beach holiday in an award winning resort on the shores of Varadero
- Book early and benifit from huge early bird summer discounts!
- Discover Havana by day visit the historial sites and by night you can listen to live music or dance to the Salsa beat
- Enjoy complimentary pool-based dive courses on offer for beginners and experience one free daily dive at the Royalton Hicacos
- Three freshwater pools including four whirlpools and signature swim-up pool bar at Royalton Hicacos ensure an unforgettable holiday
The unlimited heaven of tranquility in a perfect setting
- Well located in the heart of Havana's historic Old town, close to Central Park and minutes away from the National Theatre, the Capitol and Hemingway's favourite bar, the Floridita
- Iberostar Parque Central is a great base to discover all this unique city has to offer
- Activities throughout the day at Iberostar Varadero such as erobics, archery, basketball, beach volleyball, football, kayaking and much more.
An unforgettable holiday experience combining the vibrant life of Havana and the relaxing beach at Varadero
- Upgrade to The Royalton Hicacos Diamond Club and benefit from personalized check in, exclusive beach area, room service 24 hours and much more
- Benefit from the multiple swimming pools and a wide variety of non-motorised water sports in Varadero
- Couples can enjoy little 'extras' at Melia Habana Hotel, offering a sparkling wine and chocolates on arrival
Varadero is a showpiece of Cuba's natural beauty; stunning white beaches, turquoise waters and clusters of lofty palm...
Get the best of Havana and Varadero with this fabulous combination of city and beach in two of Cuba's finest hotels, the...
Discover the cultural and historical treasures of Havana as you're treated to 5-star service at the Iberostar Parque...
Beyond its sober elegance of Mudejar roots and the presence of round arches and red clay tile roof, it is known for its...
The ultimate beach holiday experience awaits you at Los Cactus, a Caribbean paradise for golf-lovers and scuba...