VARADERO 60(International food)
Upping the ante considerably in Varadero's new private-restaurant scene is this fine-dining establishment that exudes an aura of refinement not seen since Benny Moré last cleared his throat and shouted ‘dilo!’ . Lobster and solomillo (steak) are the house specialties, best washed down with some excellent Chilean and Spanish wine and rounded off with one of the quality cigars or rums on offer.

In almost a decade of repeat visits to Cuba, we’ve rarely seen such impeccable service. There’s double meaning in the name – it’s on Calle 60 and its theme is 1960s advertisements which adorn the walls of the elegant interior.
-Calle 60 entre Ave 3.

SALSA SUARES(International food)
With possibly the most all-encompassing menu of Varadero's new private restaurants, Salsa Suárez impresses with its salubrious greenery-covered patio and menu items written artistically on a large blackboard. Food influences are all over the map (tapas, quesadillas, risotto, sushi and good old Cuban fare), but it's consistently good, right down to the details of complimentary bread baskets and excellent Italian-style coffee.
-Calle 31 No 103. Btwn Avs 1 & 3

Veteran Cuba visitors will remember an era when the word 'pasta' was a euphemism for ‘mush.' But, times have changed and, thanks to inspired new restaurants such as Italian-owned Nonna Tina, the word ‘al dente’ is no longer an untranslatable foreign term. You’ll find proof in this restaurant’s pretty front garden where traveling Italio-philes enjoy wood-fired thin-crust pizza, pesto linguine and proper cappuccinos.
-Calle 38. Btwn Av 1 & Av de la Playa

Next to a statue of Cervantes' famous Don who seems to be making off rather keenly toward the all-inclusive resorts, this restaurant is one of the eastern peninsula's only nonresort options. Perched on a grassy knoll above Av las Américas next to an old tower good to let the kids loose at, its Spanish-tinged menu (delicious paella) makes a refreshing change from the all-you-can-eat buffet.
-Reparto la Torre

WACO'S CLUB(International food)
Travelers rate this sequestered-away spot, which was once Varadero's Club Nautico. The restaurant is clearly aiming high with its impressive international menu (nothing as wacko as you might think with a name like this, but all well-presented and flavorsome) and refined upstairs dining terrace. Families are made to feel very welcome, although prices are still steep.
-Av 3. Btwn Calles 58 & 59

DANTE(Italian food)
Going strong since 1993, Dante takes its name from its entrepreneurial chef who has been rustling up delectable Italian fare to complement the lakeside setting since the place started up. Antipasto starts at CUC$6; Varadero's most impressive wine stash also awaits. Spoil your tastebuds in Cuba while you have the chance.
-Parque Josone

ESQUINA CUBA(Caribbean food)
This place was one-time favorite of Buena Vista Social Club luminary Compay Segundo, and the man obviously had taste. Salivate over the pork special (CUC$13) with lashings of beans, rice and plantain chips under the gaze of the great Cuban ephemera that line the walls – and the resident American car.
-Cnr Av 1 & Calle 36

LA VICARIA(Caribbean food)
Inexplicably, this ranchón -style but unspectacular government-run restaurant remains popular in the new era and it's surely something to do with the generosity of the portions: in particular the whopping house special, lobster with chicken and pork.
-Av 1. Btwn Calles 37 & 38 

Hooray! Varadero has one too. La Bodeguita del Medio is a grittily cool place: musicians strum in the outside courtyard and you can admire the graffiti inside whilst you chow down on Cuban classics or sip afternoon mojitos.
-Av de la Playa. Btwn Calles 40 & 41

LA FONDUE(French food)
Locals rate this fondue-focused restaurant next to Restaurante Mallorca as the best state-run joint in town and it's a welcome change for the palate, too. Beef-fillet fondue is the signature dish.
-Cnr Av 1 & Calle 62.

MALLORCA(Spanish food)
This is a fine, intimate venue renowned for its paella. It's surprisingly spacious inside, with a well-stocked bar (with a good South American wine selection) and generous servings and service.
- Av 1. Btwn Calles 61 & 62

LAI-LAI(Chinese food)
An old stalwart set in a two-story mansion on the beach, Lai Lai has traditional Chinese set menus. Food gets mixed reports but, well, if you've been craving that wonton soup…
-Cnr Av 1 & Calle 18

LA BARBACOA(Steakhouse)
An old-world decor (stag's heads, horsey paraphernalia) and great steak served by very straight-faced waiters.
-Cnr Calle 64 & Av 1