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Food in Cuba Help

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We are going to the Caribbean this winter and Cuba is pick #1 so far but I've heard bad things about the food. We're going all-inclusive (Sunbeach or Luca Barlovento I think) but we were also planning on going to a nice restaurant or two. I'm from Winnipeg, Canada so one thing I look forward to in the Caribbean is the fresh fish and exotic fruit. Maybe this is a dumb question but I don't know what to expect: Do Cuban restaurants have that kind of food? What would a buffet selection be like at a 3 star all-inclusive? Would the food be tastier enough at a better hotel to justify the money? Thanks for your help in advance!

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    I just went to Veradaro, Cuba in janaury with three other couples... we had a blast - the beach of Veradero was wonderful and the trip to Havana was an experience I'll never forget.... However - the food was horrible!!! I am very sincere in saying this... although not seasoned travellers, we've been to Jamaica, Hawaii and the Cayman Islands three times... the food in Cuba was the worst.... it was bland, tasted different and not much selection.... I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the restrictions the government has in importing especially from the US... but again, it was horrible. Betweem four couples, we ran out of Imodium in three days. Yes, that bad!

    Food and nice dinners is an important part of a vacation for my husband and I. We heard about Cuba food before we went but we were going with three other couples and thought to do it anyway... We had a great time by enjoying the island, the people, the history (as sad as it is under a communist government - Havana is absolutley beautiful and you find yoursel wondering what life was like living there in the early 50's prior to the revolution), but I would not go back just because of the food. I know that sounds bad but like I said, experiencing the food and dinners out is as big a part of our vacation as the location itself.

    Lori

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    Sorry - I should have mentioned we are from Calgary and the other couples were from areas of Saskatchewan, so I know how you feel to get away from these Canadian winters.... how about Domincan Republic - I've heard really good things... or better yet, Jamaica!

    Lori

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    Hola Carmil:

    Cuba has both bad food, and good food and a lot depends on where you are. I see that you will be in Varadero though I am not familiar with the resorts you mention. I was at the Iberostar Tainos and the food there was great.

    You might have much greater success in finding specific info about Varadero and the hotels you mention by trying these two specific Cuba travel boards. Personally, I think Debbie's is the better of the two, but many people access and contribute to both.

    http://debbiesreviews.proboards26.com/index.cgi?board=Cuba

    http://www.caribline.com/islands/cu/forum.shtml

    If you happen to make it up to Havana (my favourite Cuban destination), here is a list of my favorite restaurants where I've always had a good meal.

    Eats and Drinks in Havana that I have enjoyed.

    1) EL ALJIBE in Miramar offers a great house specialty, Lemon Chicken. Grand and not too pricey. Their wine selection isn't too bad either. Mostly from Torres, a Spanish company, but good none the less. El Aljibe is popular with the Cubans and I've always enjoyed eatingthere. It's one of my "Must Eat" places everytime I am in Havana.

    2) EL FLORIDITA in Habana Vieja (Old Havana) serves the absolute BEST frozen daquiri imaginable. But at $6.00 per drink it is a little pricey. But that is the bar and drink made famous by Hemmingway and for it's historic note, and lots of photos of Papa Hemingway on the walls (with Fidel no less) is neat. Food is pretty good as well, but I have only eaten in the bar section, not the dining room.

    3) EL PATIO in Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square in Habana Vieja) is also great. You can dine inside or outside in the square under unbrellas. I have always preferred the outside because the music isn't quite as loud, and also I simply love to soak up the atmosphere in the Plaza. Service can be a bit slow however. I often stop here for lunch (Sandwich Cubano) with a cold Crystal Beer. Very nice.

    4) LA BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO
    If you are in Havana and want a great Mojito at the legendary bar made famous by Ernest Hemmingway, then you have to have a drink at The Bodeguita Del Medio, Empedrado 207, Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Comida Criolla y Mojitos (Native food and Mojitos), what a great place to eat and drink. Located just around the corner from Cathedral Square. The walls are covered with signatures of its patrons from the day it opened. Famous signatures such as Hemmingway's and Salvadore Allende's are protected under glass. No visit to Havana is complete without a Mojito at la Bodeguita.

    5) LA DIVINA PASTORA. Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña. Tucked into the berth of the sailing ship El Galeón at the foot of El Morro Castle, it is a good spot for dinner after the cañonazo (cannon blast) at La Cabaña. I took my girlfriend here and the atmosphere is terrific. Soft breeze, soft music and soft lips. What a treat. Very romantic spot with the lights of the harbor glimmering. The food is good too. Not a place where you have paid for the view and get substandard fare. Worth every penny, though it does take quite a few of them. If you only have one night and want to make it special, then this is the place to go.
    Also, right alongside La Divina Pastoria is a small annex bar called BAR EL MIRADOR which also offers terrific city views and the same menu as the main restaurant next door. A breezy terrace makes it one of Havana's romantic getaways. Standard criollo dishes -- plátanos a puñetazos, frijoles negros, ropa vieja -- are available along with international specialties.

    6) AMELIA - Also in Miramar suburb in the Miramar Trade Center directly across the street from the Melia Habana Hotel. Classy dining but won't break the budget. I've eaten there three times and have always enjoyed it and felt I received value for the money.

    7) La TERRAZA - which is an outdoor patio/grill at the Melia Habana Hotel which I had a very nice steak dinner at. Also their fish was good the night I ate there.


    In addition, on Calle Obispo in Old Havana there are many outdoor cafes and other cafes as well. My favourite of these are just off the edge of Plaza de Armas at the corner of Obispo and Oficios. There are three cafes in a row. Cafe La Mina, Casa del Agua la Tinaja, and Dulceria Dona Teresa. All offer good food and great ambience on the outdoor patios.

    To the west of the Capitolo on Ave. Dragones is a small China Town. Not bad actually. I wandered around and ate at a place that looked nice. Sorry, didn't note the name.

    Also, in the Miramar suburb just about opposite the El Aljibe (and near the Canadian Embassy is a place called Sandwichteria (not sure of exact spelling) which is a very cheap place to eat. Sort of a cross between a sub-shop/burger stand/ice-cream parlor where you can eat cheap but good. Six of us ate there (3 adults, 3 kids) and got out for less than $30 US. It's very popular with the local Cubans so its also a fun place to eat. Very informal.

    You must think all I do is eat, but it is a great hobby. In my trips I have found some nice spots and plan to spend more time just relaxing and absorbing the atmosphere.

    Have fun and FORGET THE DIET......LOL

    Enjoy yourself.
    Steve
    p.s. I'm on the other boards as with the nickname "Steve (YYZ)"



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    We stayed at Breezes Jibicoa and my husband enjoyed the food. I was fine for breakfast and lunch but it was fortunate I took a jar of peanut butter with me because three nights for dinner I ended up with peanut butter and banana on bread because I didn't like any of the selections and I don't eat seafood. If you like seafood you should be okay. In spite of the food we would definitely return to Cuba - you won't find nicer more accommodating people anywhere! Our son and one of our managers stayed at El Senador and they both highly recommended the food but we prefer an adults only resort like Jibicoa.

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    I have to agree with Lori on this. Although the beaches are divine and the people are wonderful...the food is horrible. The only good meal we had was in Havana on our one day excursion. I loved Havana and would recommend a guided tour of the city. Hubby and I both ended up with salmonella poisoning. Not fun.

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    Watch out for cross contamination at the fresh grill bar. You pick your raw meat and fish and pass the plate to the cook. He cooks it and puts it back onto the original plate! The 10 people in front of me were oblivious to this and probably blamed their illness on the water! I mentioned this to the restaurant manager and the next day a fresh stack of freshly washed dishes appeared beside the cook. But make sure he takes a plate from the 'clean' pile, not the dirty one!

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