When reading personal reviews and blogs, It often stated that Cuban food in Cuba was not good. It was disappointing to read. Although I wouldn’t call myself a foodie I do like to eat good food when I travel. It was suggested by several people to bring your own seasonings because the food was bland and had little to no flavor. I thought to myself, I’ll add spices to my list of things to bring to Cuba. Unfortunately, I forgot my spices but I am happy to report that I did not need them and the food was great despite the reviews I had read. That is why it is important to experience things for yourself. Read further along as a discuss and grade some great restaurants that I would highly recommend to eat in Cuba.
I made a reservation in advance by email for Paladar Vistamar. While we waited for a table, we took pictures of the beautiful sunset. The views consisted of an infinity pool with the waves crashing in the background from the ocean. Although the view from the outside is nice I preferred to sit inside where it was much cooler due to the fans circulating throughout the restaurant. We ordered the seafood platter: fish, lobster, octopus which came with rice and beans. The food was delicious, its a must stop when visiting Cuba.
Lunch at the Callejon de Hamel (I can’t recall the name of the restaurant), the price included our meal (fish, rice, beans, mashed potatoes), a soft drink, ice cream, and coffee. The price was worth the amount of food you are saved by the food was just ok.
For dinner, we ate at Habana 61. I attempted to make reservations at Habana 61 before arriving in Cuba but was told they were only accepting reservations once you were in Cuba. We called and thankfully they were available. As an appetizer we ordered croquettes, it had a nice crunch on the outside but the inside was too mushy. Our dinner arrived and collectively we ordered 3 sauce beef, tropical lobster, enchilada lobster, ropa vieja, and fish. All meals came with rice and beans. We all agreed the entrees were excellent. This was my favorite restaurant out of all the eateries we frequented.
For lunch, we ate restaurant Hostal El Canonazo that our tour guide recommended. but it was not the best it was just ok, we again tried a platter came with chicken, fish, shrimp and pork, rice and beans. Would not recommend the shrimp.
For dinner, we made reservations at one of the most popular Paladars to dine, La Guarida. It is a setting for an old movie called Fresca y chocolate and became popular in 1996. I ordered honey, lime chicken, and the flavors were decent. Make sure you go up to the rooftop for scenic view and pictures and don’t forget to take pictures on the winding staircase. This paladar is extremely popular, remember to make a reservation by email or telephone well in advance.
In Varadero, we ate a small restaurant and I had beef ribs, rice, beans, and plantain, which were good. Enjoyed the background music that accompanied it.
Grade B +
Day 5 & 6
In Trinidad, we enjoyed a restaurant called San Jose Martin. It was so good and inexpensive that we ate here two days in a row. This was the cheapest meal ($8-12 CUC) we found on the island. The first night I enjoyed the fish of the day with fries, rice, and beans. On the second day, I enjoyed Seafood Paella a rice dish with lobster, fish, shrimp and red bell peppers. I tried the brownie for dessert but it was on the dry side, but the French toast was great.
I ate at a small Paladar in old Havana call El Felix. I ordered Cordon Bleu. It was so good. It was a piece of fried chicken with ham and cheese inside. The chicken was fried perfectly and had the right amount of seasoning. I’m still thinking about the chicken now.
Buena Vista Social Club – I ate an appetizer consisting of a tamale and rib and it was pretty tasty.
Grade B- I only had an appetizer and the waiters were not very attentive to our table.
As you can see most meals come with white rice and black beans. I love rice and beans, so I enjoyed my meals. If you are a seafood lover, you will love eating in Cuba due to how cheap lobster, fish and shrimp are. Daily average meals were between $15-20 CUC. Please have the Cubans take you to where they eat as the meals maybe cheaper ans tastier. I have heard of some restaurant having a menu for the tourist which is more expensive but I’m not sure if its true as I didn’t actually see evidence of this occurring. I encourage everyone to leave tips for the waitress as Cubans earn a small monthly income.
From the meals mentioned above which restaurants would you most likely try? If you have been to Cuba and can recommend other great restaurants please let me know.