La Zaragozana

By: Roberto F. Campos / Photos José Tito Meriño, on: Cuisine
La Zaragozana

One of the most interesting restaurants in the Cuban capital continues its growing appeal among lovers of good food from all over the world.

La ZaragozanaFor connoisseurs, to sit at a table in a deluxe restaurant is to have a space in paradise, a little in advance. That's the concept behind such a place in Havana: La Zaragozana.

Opened on December 3rd 1830 by the Los Curray family from Spain, the restaurant specialized in international food with a Spanish flavour.

The location of the restaurant: # 352 Belgica Avenue (aka Monserrate Street) between Obispo and Obrapia Streets, in the old area of the Cuban capital, has not changed in 179 years.

Much of the history of the city is contained in these streets. Obispo was reputedly so named because Bishop Fray Jeronimo de Lara lived there in 1641, Monserrate was the name of a hermitage located nearby, and Obrapia (blending of devout work) was called that for a shelter for orphaned girls.

At the entrance of the restaurant is the very spot that was the limit of the walled city of Havana, a colonial pecul iarity from 1667 when the wall was started to protect citizens from the frequent pirate attacks of the time.

La ZaragozanaThe walled city stretched from the sea to where the Zaragozana is located and the nearby Egido door was the division between the in hospitable areas and the growing capital.

Although the Los Curray family invariably served excellent food, they considered luxurious restaurants to be only those for family dinners and not for business meet ings. As the Zaragozana was always filled with business people, the owners, un comfortable, came to contemptuously callit a "lower class restaurant".

That was the reason another restaurant, later to be called "1830", was opened in 1954 in homage to the date Zaragozana was opened. This secondfacil ity still stands at the mouth of the street tunnel on Malecon Avenue, west of the Vedado neigh bour hood.

Although at the same spot, the oldest restaurant in Havana has undergone some changes. Nowadays the main room - with space for 120 at its wooden chairs and tables - has a Spanish style with separations in the central area, a Hispanic mot if and some Moorish arcades as well as a finely decorate protocol area.

The 15 high stools at the bar are much in demand to spend hours talking while enjoying the Spanish cuisine.

In fact, the Zaragozana is always busy: in the daytime with tourists and at night with the regular business crowd.



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