The entrance to Dona Eutimia can be well recognized when you see the yellow sign with black letters - Dona Eutimia - and a large red arrow pointing the way inside the restaurant. Don't be mislead by people who will try to steer you toward their restaurants instead. Make sure you enter at the yellow sign.
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Cuba: Spotlight on Doña Eutimia

on
May 18, 2019

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A Gastronomic Delight! 

That is how I would describe the food at Doña Eutimia in Havana, Cuba! When I was researching my trip I found many mentions of Doña Eutimia on the Cuba forum of TripAdvisor. All the reviews were excellent and the price point seemed right in line with my budget, so I added it to my list of restaurant possibilities.

Thousands of People on TripAdvisor and a Cuban Casa Host Can’t Be Wrong!

When I arrived at my Casa Particular in Havana the host provided me with some business cards of local restaurants, Doña Eutimia being one of them, that he recommended based on the following criteria:

  • Quality of the food
  • Authenticity of the food
  • Value for the price
  • Proximity to the apartment

A No Brainer!

My casa in Havana was a self-catering apartment right on the dividing line between Old Havana and Centro. But, despite having access to an efficient little kitchen, I knew I would be eating most of my meals at restaurants, or paladares, as there are so many to try and I would only be in Havana for 5 nights. So many to try…so little time!
 

So, when Doña Eutimia was also recommended by my host I knew it was meant to be and escalated it to the top of my “must try” list. It should be noted that it is possible the casa host receives a commission for sending travelers to particular restaurants however no one asked me if anyone had recommended the paladar to me, so there was no way for anyone at the restaurant to know who suggested it to me.

I believe the recommendation of the casa host was genuine.
The entrance to Doña Eutimia can be well recognized when you see the yellow sign with black letters - Dona Eutimia - and a large red arrow pointing the way inside the restaurant. Don't be mislead by people who will try to steer you toward their restaurants instead. Make sure you enter at the yellow sign.

Entrance to Doña Eutimia.

Expectations

I’m a budget traveler who doesn’t mind spending good money to enjoy a fantastic meal and amazing cocktails, but they had better be worth the money! When I travel, I think of eating a delicious meal and sipping fine cocktails to be an event. An excursion. Part of the cultural immersion I aim to achieve in each new location. It’s not only nutrition for me; I want an entire experience.

Doña Eutimia did not disappoint!

You may be asking yourself “how can I get in on this gastronomical delight called Doña Eutimia?” It’s very easy, but here are some things you should know. P.S. Apologies if you now have the Talking Heads song stuck in your brain 😝
 

Reservations for Doña Eutimia

Despite having the appearance of a website the notion of making a reservation online is only a wish. If you are dead set on a certain date you can try calling the restaurant before you arrive in Cuba (+53 7 8013332), to secure a table for the date and time you desire. The host or hostess on duty will be able to communicate in English, and likely in other languages, if your Spanish could use some polishing.
 
If you’re not comfortable with calling you can send an email to the restaurant at d.eutimia@yahoo.es. You might try writing in English and Spanish using Google Translate if you’re not fluent in Spanish.
 
If your plans are flexible – and in Cuba, they really should be – the host or hostess of your casa particular or the concierge at your hotel can call and make the reservation for you upon your arrival. Just ask them to do so when you’re going through the check-in process.
 
You can also make the reservation in person but Doña Eutimia will likely be booked solid for lunch and dinner that day and your reservation will have to be for the next day or later in the week.
 

Or, you can do like I did – a hybrid of an in-person reservation and a willingness to be flexible.

 

Flexibility For the Win!

As it turned out I came upon the restaurant quite inadvertently. I was wandering through Old Havana after having departed from the Hotel Ambos Mundos where I had enjoyed several mojitos. I was ready for lunch when I spied the sign for Paladar Doña Eutimia. Bingo! I hit the jackpot – found it without even looking.
 
Spoiler Alert: It was booked solid for lunch and dinner! But, as a solo traveler, if I was willing to come back at 3:00 I could get a table before they closed to set up for dinner. I was fine with that as I presumed that by the time I received my actual meal it would be close enough to be considered an early dinner. I was right 😉
 

Getting To The Real Doña Eutimia

When the reviews say “beware the hawkers at the entrance to the area” they aren’t kidding!

To get to Doña Eutimia you must walk through an alleyway where several restaurants with patio dining exist. The restaurants are situated very close to each other and the patios seem to blend into one another, making it difficult to tell where one restaurant ends and another begins.
 

Young men and women stand at the entryway of the courtyard holding menus and signs from the various restaurants which exist there. While harmless, they will diligently try to persuade you to follow them to the restaurant – whatever restaurant they are working for – regardless of which one you say you’re interested in trying.

They are paid a small “commission” for each patron they bring to the restaurant they are working for.
Cathedral Square in Plaza Vieja. The entryway to get to the paladar is at the very left of the picture. The hawkers stand at the edge of the entrance to the alley trying to persuade visitors to dine at their restaurant. Beware the hawkers! Head straight to the end of the alley.

Cathedral Square – Entryway to the alley leading to Doña Eutimia is at the far left of the photo.

The hawkers will even tell you they are taking you to Doña Eutimia when in fact they will take you to another of the restaurants located in the alleyway. Sort of a bait & switch. Save your energy for your meal and don’t even bother to engage with these folks.

No, Gracias!

A simple “no, gracias” while waving a dismissive hand and proceeding on past them will do the trick. Just imagine that frozen mojito waiting for you and march right past them! The hawkers will not bother you as you’re moving past. By then they are working on the next visitor.

Doña Eutimia is located at the very back on the right hand side.

The Food and Beverages

First things first, I ordered a Mojito Frappé (frozen mojito) straight away. It was priority ONE after a day of sightseeing in the Havana heat and humidity. I don’t think anything else would have hit the spot the way that frozen mojito did. Forget frozen margaritas; frozen mojitos are where it’s at! It was perfect. Cold and refreshing and large enough to last a while.
The Mojito Frappe is a MUST to try! Take a break from the heat and cool off with this cold, tasty version of a mojito. You won't be disappointed!

Mojito Frappe (Frozen Mojito)

 
I did not have an appetizer because frankly I couldn’t justify the expense, and not having anyone to share the food with, I wanted to enjoy my dinner without being pre-stuffed with appetizers. Having said that, the appetizer menu consisted of a dozen choices – four cold and eight hot options.
 
Next up, I made a quick check of the menu but I’d had my mind set on the garlic shrimp from the moment I saw it on the chalkboard sign at the front of the restaurant when I made the reservation earlier in the afternoon. No other option on the menu was more appealing to me than the garlic shrimp!
 

I’m Just Here for the Shrimp! And the Mojito Frappé!

The shrimp (or shrimps, as they call it) were cooked to perfection. I had read that often times the seafood served in Cuba can be overcooked or mushy and tasteless. This was most definitely not the case. Having a slight grilled flavor without being overpowering, the shrimp had been sauteed in a tasty garlic and butter sauce. They had a wonderful, perfect flavor.
 
Alongside the shrimp the meal came with a handful of fried plantains and a generous serving of rice and beans. I declined the server’s offer of a small fresh salad and a basket of bread (not included with the meal) in an attempt to save room for dinner and another mojito. I was happy with that choice!

The portions were so plentiful and the meal was so filling that I was glad to have skipped any pre-dinner fillers but still could not finish all of the delicious shrimp
.
The Garlic Shrimp are not to be missed! The flavor is incredible and the shrimp are cooked to perfection!

Garlic Shrimp, Fried Plantains and Rice & Beans

I was so stuffed after the entree that I didn’t have room for a second frozen mojito! 😞

The menu boasts of a handful of desserts. I somehow managed to decline despite observing these tasty treats being enjoyed by other diners. The flan looked absolutely divine. I regret not ordering a dessert to take away, but I had a few more places to visit and didn’t want to have to carry it in my bag for several hours and risk having it leak.
 

The Service

The entire staff was personable and friendly. The server who waited on me spoke perfect English, which made communication easier for me. But the service was typical of most restaurants in Cuba. Slow. After waiting nearly 20 minutes I had to flag down the server to take my order. Long past being finished with my meal I had to flag her down again to bring the check.

The slow pace of the meal did not put me off but it is something to consider if you have a schedule to keep.

I didn’t find the service in Cuba any slower than any other country outside of the U.S. where there is a rush to “turn the tables” as quickly as possible. The staff are not working for a tip, as is the case in the U.S., so there is no rush to move you along. A service fee, typically 10% in Cuba, is added to the bill so the server is guaranteed a gratuity.
 

The Bathroom

The bathroom (link to picture can be found below) was adequately appointed, even a toilet seat. Plenty of toilet paper and paper towels in the dispenser. The bathroom was very clean.

It is not wheelchair accessible, however.

Naturally I realize not everyone appreciates photos of toilet areas as much as I do. I mean, guys can go anywhere and will tolerate a lot. This gal appreciates a clean toilet area, especially when it has plenty of TP, which is a rare occurrence in Cuba.

Side note: In Cuba it is not uncommon to find the toilet has no toilet seat. If you’re not comfortable with or able to do the hover/squat thing this may be an issue for you.

Therefore, if you would like to have a visual idea of the restroom, you can see a picture of the restroom here. It’s clean, I promise. You’ll thank me later when you need to go 😉

Accessibility 

As with a lot of things in Cuba, wheelchair accessibility has a long way to go. Most sidewalks do not have a ramp. Many of the restaurants have the tables so close together it would be extremely difficult to navigate a wheelchair through the maze of tables. Doorways are, for the most part, not up to ADA standards. The exception might be the larger, chain resorts like Iberostar or Melia.

Doña Eutimia is much the same. You must first make your way through throngs of people along the somewhat unstable ground of an alleyway. The entrance to the paladar is at the dead end of the road, squeezed in behind a concrete ramp and patio seating. The interior is quite narrow and filled with many tables.

The interior of Dona Eutimia is very tight with tables stationed extremely close together. Outside seating on the patio would be better for wheelchair users. In inclement weather the staff would likely do everything possible to accommodate a wheelchair user.

Interior view of Doña Eutimia. Tight squeeze to navigate. Photo Credit: Michele Egan of MicheleEgan.com

However, Cubans are some of the nicest, most resourceful people I have ever encountered. I have absolutely no doubt any one of them would rush to help you make your way to the entrance. The staff would likely assist with seating you at a table suitable for a wheelchair to pull up to.

If in doubt be sure to inquire when you call or e-mail to request a reservation, or ask your casa host to do it for you.

For additional photos of the interior check out this article by Cuba Holidays. The set up changes from time to time but you will get a general sense of the space and accessibility.

Final Thoughts

Hands down I would visit Doña Eutimia again, and possibly more than once during a visit. The menu is varied and so many of the selections were appealing.

The grand total for the meal, including frozen mojito and 10% service fee was $19.45 CUC. I rounded up and left $20 CUC.
$20 CUC for a delicious meal, fabulous frozen mojito and gratuity.

$20 CUC for a delicious meal, fabulous frozen mojito and gratuity.

Things I Would Do Differently Next Time

  • Order an appetizer or two for a sampling (eat some, take the rest)
  • Eat only half of the entree and take the rest with me
  • Order dessert (eat some, take the rest)
  • Definitely save room for a second mojito!
  • Use the leftovers for lunch the next day! Your casa owner likely provides a mini-fridge in the room. Eating leftovers for lunch is a great way to cut your daily expenses.
If you find yourself planning a trip to Havana take my advice and make Doña Eutimia a “must visit” place for lunch or dinner.
Have you visited Doña Eutimia? I’d love to hear about your experience. Let me know in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Doña Eutimia in Havana – Address: Callejon del Chorro #60, Plaza de Catedral +53 7 8013332  d.eutimia@yahoo.es

 

 

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Doña Eutimia: A Gastronomic Delight

Doña Eutimia: A Gastronomic Delight

 

A Mojito Frappe at Doña Eutimia is a fantastic way to cool off after a day of sightseeing!

A Mojito Frappe at Doña Eutimia: A fantastic way to cool off after a day of sightseeing!

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Shara Jones
Norfolk, VA, USA

HI! I'm Shara, the life traveler behind this blog. I became a widow two days before my 49th birthday. And so began the second chapter of my life. Join me as I journey through this new phase of life, 50+ years old, staring down the barrel of early retirement and everything that encompasses being happy and healthy in the second chapter of life.

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