They say ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’. If you are going to Cuba, it’s ‘eat as the Cubans eat’. Throw those diet rules out of the window as Havana is the city of stomach-delights. And you’ll burn off all the extra calories exploring its many wonders and enjoying the beautiful Cuban beaches.
6 Delightful Foods to Eat in Havana
Cuban tamales are different from their Mexican ancestors. Traditionally, this treat is made of dough filled with meat, wrapped in a banana leaf or corn husk, and steamed. The Cuban variety calls for meat to be mixed with the dough. It tastes richer and is more ‘juicy’.
The nightlife of Havana is one of the main reasons to vacation here. You’ll have a hard time finding a better place to party all night long. Cubans, being clever people, understand that one needs energy to have fun. So, their nightclubs usually serve a selection of filling treats. Medianoche (‘midnight’) is one of those. It’s a sandwich made of sweet egg bread with pork, cheese, pickles, and ham. It’s delicious and will keep you going through hours on the dancefloor.
3. Pernil Relleno de Moros y Cristianos
To have a true taste of the Cuban cuisine, you need to try this amazing dish. If you take a free walking tour in Havana, you can ask your guide for the best place to enjoy it. This is actually a combo where a marinated pork shoulder (it’s soaked for hours in orange juice flavored with garlic, pepper, and oregano) is stuffed with moros y cristianos. The latter is also called congri. It’s white rice with black beans cooked with lots of spices, some garlic, and oil. Congri itself is vegan, healthy, simple, and delicious. Definitely one of the best foods to eat in Havana if you don’t want to part with your diet. The stuffed pork is cooked in the oven to become a veritable feast for your taste buds.
4. Shrimps in Coconut Sauce
While it’s one of the signature dishes of Baracoa, you can find it in Havana as well. It will redefine everything you’ve ever known about the ‘right’ way to serve shrimps. The coconut sauce is amazing and serves as a perfect complement to shrimp. The Cubans call it lechita and make it with tomato paste, garlic, and a unique spice mix. Here this sauce is served with a variety of seafood, including lobster and octopus.
Like the majority of Cuban dishes, ceviche isn’t originally from Cuba. However, the local peoples have a way with the spices that few others do. As seafood is a big part of the local cuisine, you should try local variations of ceviche and enjoy the abundance of flavors. Every local restaurant has a unique way of making it, but it’s rumored that La Makina has one of the best variations.
6. Pastelitos de Guayaba
These are guava pastries and they are amazing. This is the closest you’ll come to a traditional Cuban dessert. This treat is very simple and that’s a big part of its charm. You can find different variations of this pastry and you definitely need to try at least one. Even if you are only in the city for a few hours while in transit to a different destination, this is one of the ‘mandatory’ foods to eat in Havana to make your Cuban adventure complete.
The Cuban cuisine is very close to the Caribbean and Latin American overall. However, the locals use amazing spice mixtures to make their dishes differ from those you’ll taste in other countries. So, be sure to try even the dishes you think you already know as they would have a unique Cuban flavor.