When owner Hubert Corrales told us La Esperanza is the “last vanguard of home-styled cooking in Havana,” we were very skeptical at what we thought was his overreach. After all, most private restaurants or paladares here in Havana are operated from someone’s dining room! Only when he invited us into his heavily ivy-cloaked house that opens up to an exquisite, serene and opulent dining room did we begin to understand what he meant. The house is still adorned with memorabilia of its last owner Mrs. Esperanza (hence the name) including her favorite china collections, Chinese embroidery and her personal photo albums, giving this place a very old ’50s vibe and a feeling of intimacy. The house’s layout is still pretty much the way it was. There are only about six tables in total, four inside the house and two on the patio. The menu has expanded since it first opened its door in 1995, but it’s still just one open page to keep it clean and simple. The ochun’s banana stuffed with tuna and melted cheese is cooked with Hubert’s secret red wine sauce and cinnamon. Octopus carpaccio is also a delicious starter on the menu. For main courses, be sure to try the Esperanza chicken, half of a boneless chicken cooked in honey sauce with curry, onions and peppers. Chef Manolo’s lobster is another star on the menu. The paladar only opens at night from 7pm to 11pm and a reservation is absolutely essential.
Address: Calle 16 #105 entre 1ra y 3ra, Miramar, Havana
Tel: 7202 4361
Opening hours: 7 pm till 11 pm