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Central Cuba Restaurants

As is true all over Cuba, puerco (pork)—prepared the usual variety of ways—figures largely on the region's menus. Carne de res (beef) is also common, as are pollo (chicken) and cordero (lamb). Entrées often come with the traditional arroz congrí (fried white rice with beans and pork), which is sometimes called moros y cristianos (Moors and Christians).

Restaurants in coastal cities and resorts have plenty of seafood on their menus, especially langosta (lobster), which abound in the reefs. Because commercial fishing is controlled by the government, however, seafood isn't always as fresh as you might think, even on the coast.

Restaurants are scarce outside Trinidad and Cienfuegos, though every town has a few paladares (private eateries), and many casas particulares (Cuban homes whose owners have been allowed to rent out rooms) have permits to serve food. Most large beach resorts are all-inclusive, but food quality varies, especially at their buffet restaurants. Because all-inclusiveness confines most beach visitors to eating in their resorts, destinations such as Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo have not developed much of a dining scene.

Payment, tipping and reservations. Reservations are rarely necessary, and though there's no tipping policy per se, most travelers feel better if they tip as many people as possible—in and out of restaurants—as Cubans earn paltry wages. You'll be expected to pay in convertible pesos, but credit cards are accepted in all government restaurants and hotels, though never in paladares.

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