Food and Drink in Cuba
- Cuban Food - a description
- Breakfasts on the tour
- Staying vegetarian in Cuba
- Keeping away from gluten in Cuba
- Cuban Drinks
- Our travellers' comments about food in Cuba
Many travellers are pleasantly surprised at the quality and variety of food that can be found in Cuba. Beans and rice are the staples, with cucumber, tomato and cabbage, conventional ingredients for a Cuban salad. Chicken and pork are the most common meats served in Cuba, however fish and a surprising variety of delicious seafood is also very frequently on offer.
Fresh fruits and vegetables that come and go with the seasons include mouth watering mango, pineapple, papaya, guava, coconut, orange, grapefruit, breadfruit, corn, an assortment of sweet potatoes, bananas, breadfruit, and enormous avocados, ss well as many other tropical fruit.
Coffee and chocolate are both produced in large quantities in Cuba and the quality of coffee is generally considered excellent, although some visitors find it too strong.
Read more about food in Cuba.
Breakfast on our tours in Cuba
We include breakfast everyday on all of our tours in Cuba. It is an especially wholesome and filling experience at the guesthouses.
The breakfast varies from house to house, and typically includes coffee, milk, fruit juice, bread, eggs (or omelette), and fresh fruit.
Staying Vegetarian in Cuba
Cubans are gradually awakening to vegetarianism. Many of them are aware of its existence, however most do not understand its reasoning and the belief that to eat well means eating meat, is still firmly embedded in the nations consciousness. However, through the influence of tourism, more and more vegetarian options are to be found on restaurant menus in Cuba, and the cooks in the guesthouses are now quite accustomed to providing vegetarian meals. Therefore it is not difficult to get a vegetarian meal in Cuba, although you generally won't find much variety and you may get tired being offered the same (ie - rice, beans, omelet and salad) everyday.
A vegetarian dinner in the guesthouses in Cuba cost between 7 and 12CUC. This isn't much cheaper than a dinner containing meat, and the reason is that vegetables on the free market in Cuba are of similar prices to those of meat.
Keeping away from gluten in Cuba
There is little problem maintaining a strict gluten-free diet in Cuba. This is mainly because the food in Cuba is very natural (there isn't much processed food available in Cuba). This is especially true in the guesthouses where there is also the additional advantage of being able to order specific meals and give the cook instructions about what you can and cannot eat. The guides are informed about gluten intolerance and to know which ingredients to instruct the cooks to avoid.
Rum is the base ingredient for the world famous Cuban cocktails including the Daiquiri, Mojito, Ron Collins, Pina Colada, and Cubata. Excellent draught beer is available everywhere in Cuba as well as local and imported soft drinks.
Photos of Cuban Food and Drinks
What our travellers say about food on our tours in Cuba
These are unaltered quotes from our travellers about
their experience with food while on a Cuban Adventures Tour in Cuba
Food was much better than I expected. Where we ate outside the casas, Romey seemed to know the best places to go, no matter how new they were.
Well worth eating at our host families as recommended. Mirta in Vinales was a superb cook and host. Mirta could easily teach a cooking class. I have her spanish recipe for lobster 2 ways. comments: Variety of fruit, Churros and drum pizzas were good value for money. Snapper and pork best choice for me.
Food was way too much for us to eat and when you understand the income levels/scarcity of nutritious food you actually feel bad when you can't eat it all. But it's not possible to eat fruit, bread, cheese, tomatoes, cold meats, eggs, cake and flan for breakfast. The dinner at the Organic Food in Vinales was brilliant. Amazing setting, food and atmosphere.
I felt so spoiled! Every morning we had juices, bread, jelly, cheeses, ham, eggs, coffee and on and on and on... Breakfast was served at the times of our choosing and ALWAYS ready exactly then. It was great!!! Oh My Gosh! We actually took pictures of our meals because they were so unbelievable! TONS of food. TONS of GREAT food and the prices for our dinners was very reasonable. Nothing beats the flavour of a home cooked meal. Each casa was different in how they cooked and all were great experiences for us. Definitely a recommendation from me. Additionally, we took time to go out and find little places that were off the "well travelled path". Great finds are out there: I cannot recommend strong enough the BLUE BAHIA in Cienfuegos. The Flan there was unbelievable and the meals are both inexpensive and phenomenal. It's a beautiful and small restaurant run by a husband and wife and features a piano to serenade the five tables if you are lucky enough to get one.
It was lovely to have fresh fruit every morning and a choice of eggs etc. and wonderful coffee. We ate in our casas most nights and the meals were delicious. I am a vegetarian and Valeri made sure that the casas knew this and I had a fantastic choice.
I loved the Christmas Day dinner at the beach! The New Year Eve's party and dinner in Havana were simply amazing, more than I ever could have imagined. All in all, I expected to get bad/scarce food in Cuba, but everything turned out to be very good, very reasonably priced and readily available.
I personally like plain yogurt, seasonally available fruit and fruit juice and lots of cafe americano at every breakfast. Jesus's meals at his house (Trinidad) and on the beach were food highlights. and fish/lobster meals were great at many small cafes in Havana...
Quality of meals in the guesthouses in Cuba and other restaurants were above our expectations (and less expensive than we expected). No complaints. Plenty of choices even for a vegetarian like myself.
The food at the casas in Cuba was awesome, but plenty! Some restaurants were better than others, but the guides are good at pointing the good ones out and having the odd pizza, roast pork roll or cake from the street sellers are usually a very good, cheap bet too!!
The food at Dianeles' Casa in Vinales was excellent. The food at Hotel Victoria was not great, although it seemed to be better than the food on offer at Hotel Nacional (our friends who were staying there said they had sprouts for breakfast!). The food at Maria La Gorda was good - especially if you like fish, which I do!
Breakfasts in Cuba were great, and better than anything I manage when I'm at home! Definitely helped set me up for the day, and loved all the fresh fruit and fresh juices that were available. As a single person, it was particularly nice when I was in homestays with other people and could share breakfast with another couple, or in the case of Vinales where we all had breakfast together. The vegetarian food in Cuba once I joined the tour was a lot better than people at home had led me to believe, especially in Santiago and Baracoa. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables with some great salads. And fortunately I like rice and beans! Highlights were dinners at the 3 Anas in Santiago, the coconut sauce at the Colonial restaurant in Baracoa, and the dinner at the organic farm in Vinales which was a lot of fun as well!
The food at the homestays in Cuba was simple, wholesome and fresh. Tomatoes like I've never tasted. Catered well for non-meat lovers.
The hosts were wonderful in serving very ample breakfasts to us. It just seemed that we ate the same things all the time. Could be our own faults as I, for one, didn't know what else to ask for. I eat steel-cut oats most every morning at home. I didn't find that Cubans I asked seemed to know what oats are! The food was not of much variety in Cuba. I didn't eat at expensive places, but did eat at some nice ones. I am spoiled, though, coming from the Bay Area in California!
The meals we ate out in Cuba varied in quality from okay to very good. A couple of times we returned to a restaurant that we had really liked but the second time was a disappointment. But, overall, probably very good.
Especially at the casas, the breakfasts were delicious in Cuba. Although I would prefer too much than too little, I felt we were very spoiled with too much food. All of our meals at the casas in Cuba were excellent. So delicious. And our hosts were so friendly.
All home dinners we had in Cuba were fantastic ( eg Trinidad),only home dinner which i found rather poor (or rather low value for money in comparison to the quality and variety of an external restaurant) was at the host in Viñales in general for people who prefer "vegetarian" food, there is less choice in Cuba....
We knew food would be basic in Cuba, however we were pleased with what we ate on the tour. My only criticism would be that there was too much and we often felt wasteful.
Breakfasts in the homestays in Cuba were very similar, but given the breadth on offer each morning this is not necessarily a bad thing. In general quality of breakfasts as the homestays in Cuba was high quality. The standard of food in Cuba varied. The food on offer at the vegetable fams and the buffet at one of the homestays were probably the pick of the bunch. The food at the homestays in general was of a very good quality. The Cuban restaurants were a bit hit and miss.
Overall food in Cuba was definitely better than expected - maybe not gourmet, but a far cry from some of the stories I'd heard!
We chose to eat lobster and seafood when it was available in Cuba and we were never disappointed. Chicken was very good, with good taste and juicy. We once had pork ribs that were excellent and in Viñales we had a superb meal with many dishes. However, our preference for beef is tender and rare and that is obviously not the way that Cubans like it.
We’ve had some meals in the casas on a number of occasions, and from my point of view it was way better than the food served in the restaurants in Cuba. The two most memorable meals during the tour were the one in Jesus’s house in Trinidad and the one on an organic farm in Viñales – both in terms of food and the atmosphere. It really felt like being part of the local community.
Breakfasts were my favorite in cuba, even though most breakfasts were similar, the ambiance and hosts made this a much anticipated start to the day. Although simple, I found Cuban food wonderful and a stimulating start to the night ahead.
The food at the homestays in Cuba was lovely and plentiful. We never really needed to eat lunch! Breakfast at the Nacional was okay. Lots of food on offer but not as tasty as in the casas. They served strange things like Brussel sprouts for breakfast! Meals we had at the casas or in restaurants were delicious. Tony always gave really good recommendations. The meals were fairly similar from place to place but always really good value for money.
I am not a breakfast person, so the fruit was enough for me. They always asked if we wanted eggs, and there were rolls I did not like the juice, there was only one choice. I usually have a small lunch, so often share with my friends. So it was too much for me, but that is really no complaint, it's just me.
Fantastic fresh and nutritious food which was a great start to everyday on our tour in Cuba. It really set you up nicely for the day especially if we were out drinking the night previously. Dinners in the homestays in Cuba were often better than what was served in the restaurants, fantastic homemade food which was always fresh and well cooked. Superb.
We took both breakfast and our evening meal with our homestay family in Cuba. They always asked us what we wanted for supper, and the meals were beautifully prepared and beautifully presented. I tasted food that I have never had before and that made the whole experience even better. Beautifully prepared lobster, chicken, shrimp and all the trimmings!!!! I loved every minute of it!!!!
Nic & Julie -(New Zealand)
Usually too much food but we were assured that none of it goes too waste. In Cuba things like fruit juices, cakes, bread etc were much sweeter, sugar rich, than usual western food. Cuban Pizza in Trinidad, oh yeah !
I was really impressed by the variety of food in Cuba. I am vegetarian (although I do eat some fish) and was surprised by the amount of variety. I sometimes left restaurants feeling bad about the amount of food that was left over, as servings did tend to be very big and we often couldn't finish all of the food. I hope that it didn't go to waste. The food in Santiago and Baracoa was probably my favourite of the trip - it seemed to have lots more flavour there. Oh and I think I had the tastiest pizza of my life to date at the Italian restaurant we went to in Camaguey. That restaurant was a recommendation by Yadira so massive kudos to her on that! As a lover of tropical fruits, I was very happy with the breakfasts! There did tend to be a lot of food but the casa owners would always ask us what we wanted the night before so once I realised that the standard breakfast included so much food, I was able to ask for just a small fruit salad and that was perfect.
Abundant food and always fresh and nutritious. The evening meals at the home stays in Cuba always felt like they were cooked with love. These were way better than most of the restaurants. Wonderful fresh fruit selections included in breakfasts. Food was much better than I was led to believe. Great value seafood - sometimes a bit overcooked though. Loved the cheap local pizza for lunch.
I found breakfast very limited in choice. The chicken in Santiago de Cuba is to die for!
Breakfasts were great at the homestays - fresh fruit, bread, cheese, juice, coffee, tea. Some amazing meals at the casas and restaurants owned by casa families. I am vegetarian and they always catered for me in abundance! Some truly memorable meals in Cuba!
The food we had for our included meals on the tour was delicious and very healthy. Our hosts in Cuba were great cooks and our breakfasts (and dinners) were fantastic. If I could eat this well back home, I'd be a happy man! Great portion sizes and very tasty all around.
Breakfasts were great and filling. I consider the variety to be "excellent" since the table always included several items to choose among, and I loved the fresh fruit every day in Cuba. I have a reasonably healthy appetite, but had trouble finishing some of the delicious meals at the casas. Not a complaint, though!
The variety of places that we ate also lent something to the holiday in Cuba. A good selection of different restaurants / home stay meals. Although I would not go as far as to say that the food will be my lasting memory of Cuba, the dreadful tales I had heard before I went were certainly not founded.
amazing amazing amazing food. so delicious and so much of it. always. definitely great value for money. every day i ate so much delicious food for breakfast that it was necessary to avoid lunch!! we ate dinner at our accommodations frequently also, because we knew the food was going to be amazing and there would be so much of it!
Organic farm experience was beautiful and the food delicious. Best piña colada ever was on the hike back from the tobacco farm in Viñales. Perhaps they could offer eggs one morning and something else the second?
The meals cooked by our homestay hosts in Cuba were excellent. The same applies as for the breakfasts - the variety was immense, great tasting and often too much. For food in restaurants the variety was less but that was expected and did not come as a surprise. All the restaurants chosen/recommended by our guide were excellent.
Kate & Tim -(Australia and NZ)
The meals that we had at the casas were very well prepared. Good, basic food and more than enough! We were never hungry thats for sure.
Marie Lisa -(Sweden)
The best meals were in Cienfuego and Trinidad which I enjoyed. However, my opinion about the Cuban food is that it is not really my cup of tea...
The home stay meals were fantastic and were the best on the trip. On the nights in Cuba that we did not have meals at home stays, Nel always provided top notch recommendations for restaurants and made sure that the value was good for those who were on a budget. No complaints.
Virginia & Alan -(Australia)
For the included breakfasts in Cuba, there was heaps too much food but when we asked for less they still provided the same. Enjoyed patronizing the paladors where possible. The 2 restaurants in Camoguey were innovative but all the food was fresh and well presented- just too much.
The food - yum! I miss it already.
I didn't go to Cuba expecting gourmet food. But I think the food is quite good. Tatiana took us to some great paladares, and the food in the casas was delicious. The fruit and eggs is fresh and delicious at the casas.
Massive and delicious fresh meals.
Some of the food quantities in Cuba seem ridiculously big and a waste. 'Chicken, Pork or Fish' became a catch-cry, but it doesn't matter when the meat is that flavoursome. Free-range everything it seems! Some breakfasts were better than others.
The best fruit you can have every morning. Wish I had that here in the USA.
Nel made a real effort to make lunch and dinners work for the entire group. Translating, ordering, dividing up the bill. Overall he did really well in his suggestions and the timing and pricing worked for the group needs. Breakfasts were hot and fresh - not much variety but still a good way to start the day.
Jorge took us to some excellent places to eat and was aware of some of group on budgets so gave a good variety. Each home stay in Cuba tended to offer same breakfast.
The food was better than I'd expected, although there wasn't a lot of variety. Portions were large but good. Eating out was good and quite cheap, with good quality food but not much variety.
We felt a little guilty about not being able to eat everything. However we asked them to prepare less. Great to try local produced foods, always fresh and healthy!
I must say the best meals we had in Cuba were at the casas, home cooking by far the best. I am vegetarian and coeliac, I found it a real problem, but the casa hostesses made a big effort for me. The restaurants were disappointing, always a lot to eat but no variety, but that's Cuba, you don't go there for culinary excellence. I feel that the restaurants have prescribed tourist fare, it may be lack of awareness. I think the casa hostesses should be encouraged to experiment a little with the vegetables available in season rather than the inevitable meat/fish, rice, beans and awful salad. On the whole breakfasts were fine, but no variety.
We ate well all throughout the trip, and having spoken to many other independent travellers who struggled to find a good variety of food in Cuba, I would definitely say this is one of the many advantages of doing the tour. Breakfasts were a delicious feast of eggs, fresh fruit, bread, ham, cheese, fresh juice and coffee - a great way to start the day! The only trouble was we felt bad that there was so much food that we couldn't eat it all.
Cuban food is excellent - especially for someone with food intolerances. Loved it. The food at the paladores was fabulous! One of the highlights was the BBQ at the organic farm in Viñales - absolutely a wonderful night.
Enjoyed all breakfasts and smoothies. Sometimes we had too much food but i cant really complain about that. Food in Baracoa was great. I ate better in cuba than i do here.
Dinners at the casas were usually good. William's in Baracoa were really good. Breakfasts were ALWAYS the same...eggs, ham, cheese. Fruit was always good, but I still can't look at eggs! LOL
The dinners that we had at the local homes in Cuba were just amazing fests - particularly the night in Trinidad where our lovely host prepared the most amazing lobster dinner complete with starter, salad, desert and local Cuban wine - all for the fantastic price.
Meals at the homestays were probably some of the best we have had anywhere in Cuba. Always generous portions too and probably over generous but that was not a problem as you are not obliged to eat everything laid in front of you. Nel was very helpful in identifying restaurants and some were better than others. We appreciate the limitations in Cuba and understand why the menus have fewer choices than elsewhere in the world.
Breakfasts were fine, but several of the evening meals were exceptional. Our hosts often provided too much food (especially for evening meals) and although the variety on 'the table' for each meal was excellent, we thought that Cuban food overall was sometimes repetitive. Having said that, we enjoyed Cuban food and had some memorable meals. We thought that the quality of food in some restaurants to be ordinary, but we also had some great food (mostly in the privately-owned establishments).
David & Judy -(UK)
The two meals organised by Valeri - on the farm and on the beach - were magical evenings that will stay in our memory for a long time.