Cuban food has a bad reputation, probably created by someone who had one too many bowls of rice and beans! While this staple dish may often appear on dinner tables across Cuba, there are a lot of other authentic Cuban dishes that will have you going back for a second helping.
The most important thing to note about Cuban food is that it is all organic, largely due to the trade embargo with the US which makes it difficult to access pesticides. It’s also very wholesome and unprocessed, and will often be built around a small amount of meat.
Vegetarianism is still quite rare in Cuba, as meat is still seen as an essential part of the diet. However, as more tourists visit the country, the variety of food available is changing. You will usually be able to eat well as a vegetarian in Cuba, although you may find that you rely on rice and beans as the staple food. You should also be able to find delicious fresh salads, tasty snacks like fried plantain and fresh fruit at every table.
Vegans may struggle to find as many options as their omnivorous travel buddies, but rest assured that your casa particular owner will go out of their way to make sure you are catered for. If you have any specific dietary requirements, please let us know in advance so we can let the casa owner know in advance! This is why staying in a casa is often better than a hotel as you will have greater control over the food options.
Typical breakfast items include eggs, ham, bread, fruit, juice and coffee. This will usually be eaten at your casa particular and will be varied. Breakfast is included on all tours and holidays.
Only breakfast is included as standard, but we try to arrange a few group dinners where you can get to know fellow travellers or your hosts. We recommend eating dinner in your casa particular, but we can offer tips of local restaurants or paladares, from cheap and cheerful cafeterias to luxury private restaurants. Your tour guide will mention this during your orientation walk (included in every package).
The most popular street food in Cuba will be things like fried plantain and fresh fruit. You can also find vendors selling fresh fruit juice on every corner. You might also see street vendors trying to sell you very overcooked spaghetti.
If you’re worried about getting your five-a-day while on holiday, you needn’t be, as fresh fruit an juice is widely available for around 3 Cuban Pesos (around 7p). In Cuba you will find huge green avocados, sweet mangos (from May), pineapples, bananas or guavas which are available whole year around.
Rice is used more frequently than potatoes, as it is widely available. Lately, potatoes become precious thing and are only available for few weeks and people need to wait in long lines to get their hands on them. Pasta is quite rare in Cuba. For those following a gluten-free diet, you will be able to avoid bread and pasta quite easily.
Tea drinkers be warned! The Cuban people are proud coffee drinkers, and with good reason, as they have some of the best coffee in the world. It is typically served in an espresso shot, and infused with Demerara sugar during the pulling process. It’s the perfect afternoon pick-me-up! If you must have a cup of tea, you might want to travel with your own tea bags. Some hotels will have English breakfast tea on their menu, but this won't be like the builder's brew you are used to at home. Alternatively, we recommend learning to love Cuban coffee.
For those with a sweet tooth, you will have many opportunities to try some delicious Cuban desserts. Brightly coloured cakes are common at celebration dinners, as are Cuban staples such as tres leches cake and flan.
Beer drinkers are also well catered for, as Cuba has many delicious beer options to choose from. Bucanero and Cristal are the two most popular and widely available, while some locals will swear by local beers such as Cacique and Mayabe. They’re all light and highly refreshing lagers, perfect after a day at the beach – we would recommend you try them all and pick your favourite.
Cuba should be named the cocktail capital of the world, as it’s the home to so many delicious options! Try a mojito, daiquiri, or Cuba Libre.
|No other dish represents Cuban cuisine better than Moros y Cristianos. Seasoned black beans served with fluffy white rice. Some Cubans serve rice topped with beans, others mix them. I myself top the rice with beans, and let my guests decide for themselves!|