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
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 b
As is true all over Cuba, puerco (pork)—prepared the usual variety of ways—figures largely on the region's menus. Carne

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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  • 1. Palacio de Valle

    $$$ | Seafood

    Elegance abounds on the ground floor of Cienfuegos's most gracious mansion, with its ornate arches, marble columns, and crystal chandeliers...Read More

  • 2. Café Don Pepe

    $ | Café

    A rule of thumb: You stand a better chance of finding good Cuban fare in the diaspora than here on the island. This small café, across from...Read More

  • 3. El Louvre

    $ | Cuban

    This small café with a hardwood bar, brass lamps, and wooden ceiling has been in business since 1866. The view, overlooking Plaza Martí, probably...Read More

  • 4. El Palatino

    $ | Cuban

    The low building with the fat pillars south of Parque Martí's bandstand, dates from the 1840s and evokes Cienfuegos's French heyday. Today it...Read More

  • 5. La Campana de Toledo

    $$ | Cuban

    In a restored 18th-century house overlooking the timeless Plaza de San Juan de Dios, this restaurant was named for the campana (bell) that...Read More

  • 6. La Concha

    $ | Cuban

    Its only decoration may be a pastoral mural covering one wall, but locals are drawn to this popular restaurant on the western edge of town by...Read More

  • 7. La Cueva del Camarón

    $$ | Seafood

    One of the smaller mansions in Punta Gorda houses this pleasant seafood restaurant. Its bright interior—full of shiny marble, colorful tiles...Read More

  • 8. Restaurante Don Ronquilo

    $ | Cuban

    A few steps from the Iglesia de la Soledad, this open-air restaurant has several tables overlooking a courtyard and a dozen more in back, surrounded...Read More

  • 9. Restaurante El Jigüe

    $ | Cuban

    Set in the Plazuela de Jigüe, a tiny plaza shaded by one tree, this colorful and historic restaurant (dating from 1720) seems to say "come on...Read More

  • 10. Restaurante El Mesón del Regidor

    $ | Cuban

    Down the hill from the Plaza Mayor, across from the Museo Histórico, this building is as historic as any in Trinidad: wooden ceilings, brass...Read More

  • 11. Restaurante La Alfonsina

    $$ | Seafood

    At the end of a long dock, this simple restaurant under a thatched roof has the best views in town, not to mention the best ventilation. Though...Read More

  • 12. Restaurante Manaca

    $$ | Cuban

    The Manaca Iznaga family's former manor house is now occupied by a restaurant. The building's ochre walls, square columns, wood-beam ceiling...Read More

  • 13. Restaurante Mesón de la Plaza

    $$ | Cuban

    This refurbished 19th-century building overlooks Plaza Serafín Sánchez and the porticos of the colonial buildings that surround it. It's an...Read More

  • 14. Restaurante Quinta Santa Elena

    $ | Cuban

    Between the muddy Río Yayabo and the Calle el Llano, this ancient yellow manor house with a large, tree-shaded terrace is an appealing spot...Read More

  • 15. Sol y Son

    $ | Cuban

    Trinidad's best paladar is a few blocks south of the Plaza Mayor in an elegant 19th-century home. Upon entering, you may feel as if you've stepped...Read More

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