Where to eat cheap when visiting Cuba

Cuban Tropical fruitCuba has more than enough culinary delights to rival any other tourist destination in the Caribbean. So it is impossible not to surrender to some of the marvellous Cuban dishes that seduce visitors so much year after year. Cuban meals are mainly influenced by Creole cuisine, an exotic mixture of Spanish, African and Caribbean food which can be easily found in local places throughout the island. As Cuba is a tropical country, one thing to seek out are stalls selling great fresh fruit-based drinks. Eating on a budget in Cuba is not hard and there is plenty to suit all tastes, eating habits and the pocket too - you just need to know where to look for the best food.

How and where to eat cheap in Cuba

Coppelia Cuban ice-creamTry out the different food cuisine all over the island and sample the various styles of Creole seasoning. Cubans also have a big appetite for ice cream, which is available everywhere in the large cities as well as near the National Hotel in Havana, where you will find the island's most famous ice-cream parlor - Coppelia, a huge temple to the art of making (and consuming) ice-cream. Upon arrival you will often see a long queue of Cubans patiently waiting their turn. Tourists (or those paying in CUC) are served from another counter without any waiting time.

How to eat cheap in CubaThe street is definitely the cheapest place to eat in Cuba. Local kitchens typically have windows opening to the street selling meals and are often part of private cafés. Many sell what is known as the "Cuban box" - a complete light meal for only 1 CUC: Alternatively they provide a varied menu with prices displayed and serve portions of meat with rice, beans, vegetables and salad, dished up in a recycled cardboard box for a take away or on a plate to eat in. Some Cuban cafés also offer other great value meal deals, such as snacks, pizza and fast food.

Cuban breakfast in private B&BBreakfast or lunch away from home or even dining out at casas particulares is a wise option to consider during your trip to Cuba. Private hostels generally offer beautifully cooked and abundant Cuban dishes, which are not overly expensive. Given that breakfast is not a usual service offered by cafeterias or Cuban bars, it is highly recommend to eat breakfast in your B&B or private house: fruit, milk, coffee, juices, bread with butter and jam, cheese and scrambled eggs at a price between 3 to 5 CUC per person, while lunch or dinner costs between 5 and 7 CUC.

What are Cuban paladares?

Paladar - Private Cuban RestaurantPaladares are small private restaurants that open their doors to welcome tourists and travelers, but have to deal with more limitations than the state-run restaurants. Some restrictions have lately been eased and the number of Cuban paladares has proliferated recently providing a wider and richer variety of dishes, developing new trends in both international and Cuban cuisine.

cheap places to eat in CubaPrivate restaurants are re-emerging and offer a more pleasant, relaxed and personal atmosphere. If your destination is Cuba and you wish to try out authentic Creole cuisine, eating in a Paladar is the best way to sample innovative and traditional food without the expense of state restaurants. Tourist paladares serve a full menu (starter, main course + dessert) costing around $15. Beans, pork, chicken, fresh fish, salad, rice and fried plantains are usually the most used ingredients in their daily menus, while some Cuban paladares prepare lobster at a reasonable price.

Eating and drinking in Cuba is another interesting feature of exploring this fascinating tropical island. Although private restaurants are better value than the state restaurants, it is not the cheapest option. Paladares are a different and cost effective way to taste great Cuban food during your holiday to the Caribbean.

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