You can learn a lot about a country by their food. Cuban cuisine is a melting pot of flavors and techniques from Africa, The Caribbean and Spain, as well as Native American influences. When cruising to Cuba, check out some of these must-eat foods!
Where to Eat in Cuba
With the influx of tourists, good Cuban food can be found in both paladares (family-run restaurants) and high-end Cuban restaurants.
Of course, you'll also find wonderful bakeries, cafes, and fresh fruit markets. Plus, street food vendors are everywhere! You can also enjoy a farm-to-table experience on the Mediterráneo Havana shore excursion, which includes plantation visits and a delicious lunch.
What to Eat in Cuba
Sweet, savory, or a little of both: here are some of the must-eats on a Cuba cruise:
- Sandwiches! They’re delicious, filling and you’ll find them everywhere! Try a Cuban sandwich (aka a Mixto): sweet Cuban bread, sliced roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and pickles. Don’t forget the pickles!
- Anything Pork. Cubans are big on pork. Roast pork, Pulled Pork and that crispy skin known as Chicharrones.
- Mojo. This seasoning is a combination of sour orange, garlic, and oregano, and Cubans put this stuff on everything. Yum!
- Black Beans. According to one chef, he equates black beans to being Cuban Gravy. So you’ll find many versions including Black Bean Soup, Refried Black Beans, and Moros y Cristianos: black beans and rice.
- Rice. This is another staple of the Cuban diet where you can enjoy versions like Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken) and Congri (red beans and rice)
- Beef. Beef in Cuba is fairly limited in supply but Ropa Vieja might be worth a try: shredded flank steak in tomato sauce served with rice & beans, and fried yucca.
- Fried. Sweet. Plantains. Oh, my!
- Desserts. Anything at all for dessert! Try Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) or Capuchinos Cubanos: cone-shaped cakes with syrup. Flan is also a very popular Cuban dessert.
- Empanadas. These scrumptious little turnovers filled with meat are either baked or fried.
What to Drink in Cuba
From coffee to rum, don’t miss these famous Cuban beverages while cruising to Havana:
- Strong coffee: Café Cubano is my favorite. It’s strong, dark, and sweet coffee served in adorable tiny cups. I once ordered 3, the barista laughed, and wow, did they pack a punch!
- Juice: Freshly squeezed like lemonade, orange, mango, and pineapple.
- Rum: Try it in a Cuba Libre, Pina Colada, Mojito, or in a daiquiri at La Bodeguita where Hemingway enjoyed this same drink. Hemingway fans are sure to love the Life of Hemingway in Havana shore excursion!
- Beer: Bucanero and Cristal are the most popular Cuban beer choices for tourists, while Cacique and Mayabe are loved by the locals.
- Coconuts: Freshly cracked coconuts, when cracked right in front of you, are safe and deliciously refreshing!
Famous Restaurants in Cuba
Taking a Cuba cruise is a great opportunity to dine in famous locations. Here's a list of restaurants in Havana that have hosted celebrities and dignitaries.
- San Cristobal Paladar: San Rafael No 469, E/ Lealtad y Campanario, Centro Habana, La Habana
- Why? It’s famous for its eclectic atmosphere, lobster, and the fact that President Obama dined there!
- La Guarida: No. 418, Gervasio y Escobar, Havana
- Why? The striking Old Havana building, amazing marlin tacos, and knowing that it’s popular with the likes of Natalie Portman, Jay-Z, and Beyonce!
- El Floridita Restaurant & Bar: Obispo No.557 esq. a Monserrate, Habana Vieja, Ciudad de La Habana
- Why? This was one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite haunts in Havana! Try the Gran Plato Hemingway: a combination of fish, shrimp, and lobster.
- Restaurant El Cocinero: Street 26 # 57 e/11 y 13 Vedado, La Habana
- Why? Old architecture, a cool waiting bar, terrace dining, and their delicious corn soup and lamb curry. It's owned by the Cuban hip-hop artist, X-Alfonso.
- Sloppy Joe’s: Agramonte, La Habana, Cuba
- Why? This iconic restaurant that invented Sloppy Joe's reopened in 2013 after being defunct for nearly 50 years! It was a favorite with old film stars including Spencer Tracy, John Wayne, and Clark Gable.
With so many delicious choices of foods to eat in Cuba, you’ll soon be saying está volao - that’s amazing! For more information on cruising to Cuba, be sure to read: Cruising to Cuba: What You Should Know y How to Explore Havana Like a Local.
Have you cruised to Cuba? What were some of your favorite food spots?