Before we went to Cuba, everyone warned us about the food.

 

“It’s terrible,” they said. “You’re only going to eat rice and beans and chicken.”

 

“Cuba is not a destination for food,” others said. “You’re not going to eat anything worth writing home about.”

 

Maybe it was because I’d arrived with lowered expectations and half-imagining I’d be hungry throughout our trip, but I didn’t find the tasteless food that people described to me.

 

Is Cuba a foodie’s paradise? Certainly not. But it’s also certainly not an atrocity. Here are some of my favourite eats during our visit.

 

Seafood

 

One thing we easily found in Havana and Trinidad: fresh seafood at incredible prices. There were many days where fresh lobster and prawns were on our plates for both lunch and dinner.

 

Cuba food

Fresh lobster

 

Street food

 

Cuba doesn’t really have a street food scene, but it is easy to find snacks as you wander around. I developed a slight obsession for the pizzas that were sold out of the windows of cafeterias in Havana. These cafeterias seemed to be the living rooms of people’s houses and hygiene may have been questionable, but that didn’t stop me munching on the bread-plate-sized, crispy-bottomed pizzas topped with plenty of melted cheese.

 

Cuba food

Street pizza

 

Another favourite were the ice creams we snacked on in the afternoon in Havana: fruit-flavoured ice cream sandwiched between two pieces of sugar-sprinkled sponge.

 

Cuba food

Ice cream sandwich

 

Tostones – twice-fried plantain chips – were the perfect accompaniment for an afternoon of people watching from the comfort of a bar. Make sure they’re crispy on the outside, soft inside, and liberally sprinkled with salt.

 

Cuba food

Tostones

 

Breakfast

 

For around CUC$5 (US$5) any casa particular will provide breakfast, and we usually ended up stuffed after an amazing spread of bread, honey or homemade jams, eggs, tea and coffee, and a fresh fruit platter.

 

Cuba food

Fresh fruit for breakfast

 

Congrí

 

I’m not usually a fan of rice and beans, but the Cubans have done something pretty amazing with theirs. Flavoured with cumin and garlic and all sorts of other goodness, this is usually served as a side with most dishes in Cuba.

 

Las bebidas

 

Rum, rum, rum. One can’t come to Cuba and not try the local liquid treasure. Mojitos were usually the order of the day, but my husband was also not embarrassed to be seen sipping a creamy piña colada.

 

Cuba food

Mojitos

 

San Cristóbal Paladar

 

This was by far our favourite eating experience. Located in Centro Habana, we stumbled through the restaurant door just as they were about to shut up, close to starving after our journey from Trinidad back to Havana. They kindly seated us and we feasted on an enormous tasting plate and fresh (interestingly plated) seafood. This is one restaurant that can’t be missed in Havana – but a reservation is highly recommended.

 

Cuba food

Varied tasting plate as a starter

 

Cuba food

Fresh seafood platter – prawns, lobster and fish

 

Have you been to Cuba? What did you think of the food? What was your favourite eating experience?

 

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