06 Jun One of the best hole in the walls in Cuba, El Chanchullero Restaurant!
I’m not exactly sure why some of the best places to experience exceptional meals can be found in nondescript, off the beaten path, juke joints. We’d heard fantastic things about El Chanchullero, a restaurant in Old Havana that intrigued us, so we decided to go check it out.
I will caution you. You can easily pass without noticing it. Maybe that’s why you will see a server standing outside fielding questions from foreigners about how to find El Chanchullero! Once we realized we were at the right place. We stepped inside.
The old, rustic building has three levels within its narrow footprint. The first level is pictured below. The second level is weird. There is only one table there sitting inside of what looks like a jail cell. The third level is their petite rooftop bar which allows you to see the Old Havana courtyard.
We didn’t have to wait very long to get our menus which were happily in both languages. We tried to focus on ordering, but it was difficult to do so with our eventual server, Yudi, walking around.
We noticed that the prices were exceptional and if we were really starving, we would have ordered every tapas dish, but we decided to go ahead and place two orders of the Chanchull assortment. It was a mix of sliced smoked sausages, chorizo and yeast rolls. The meat was smokey, spicy and flavorful and only cost 4 CUC each which is pretty much the equivalent of $4.00USD!!
Our server recommended the Ropa Vieja, which literally translates into “old rope”! Didn’t sound really appetizing but we’re in Havana, right? Why not try it anyway?! It was surprising to see the finished product when Yudi set it on our well-lived, small table.
The dish was a hearty serving of sauteed pulled pork with green pepper, tomatoes, and onions in a 10″ bowl. It was garnished with fresh cucumbers, shredded white cabbage, tomatoes and sweet potato mash served on top of black beans and rice. We literally couldn’t eat it all, so we had them put the remainder in a doggy bag. Cost? $4.50 USD!
One of the best surprises about dining at El Chanchullero’s was their insane drink prices. There was no drink over $3.00 USD. Naturally, we suspected once we were served, we would see that the drinks would be watered down. Boy, were we wrong! If anything, maybe there was a tad bit too much Havana Club rum in our drinks. Then again, we are light weights when it comes to alcohol. lol
Overall, the service is great and the food and drink were exceptional. Reservations are recommended, but we were able to just walk in after a short wait. If you are planning a trip to Havana, do make plans to visit this wonderful establishment. You will always get more than your money’s worth!