Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
will be priced in CUC. This is normal. But, there will never be two completely dif-
ferent menus with different prices. There are never separate tourist menus and
Cuban menus. If you are ever presented with a menu which looks a bit strange,
always check the cover page to see if it is actually the menu for the restaurant
you are visiting. A common scam is to mix menus from different restaurants,
passing off the higher priced menu in low priced restaurants. This can further be
complicated when a restaurant has a disco or separate bar attached to it. While
the disco or bar might have a menu priced in CUC, the actual, sit down restaurant
might only use Moneda Nacional. The front page of the menu as well as the let-
terhead, will always clearly indicate which restaurant it is to be used for.
Hand Written Menus
At state owned restaurants, menus will always be typed and presented in a pro-
fessional folder or laminated sheet. State restaurants are operated by large, pro-
fessionally run, government-owned companies. All prices and menu items are set
by official sources. Waitresses or local restaurant managers have no leeway to
change or modify food offerings. In a state restaurant, if you are ever presented
with a hand written menu, it is a 100% certainty that you are being scammed.
Your choice is to either leave the establishment and find another restaurant or to
immediately demand to see the manager ( El Jefe ) and hope that the matter can
be resolved. If you have a camera in your possession, I would suggest that you
snap a photo of the hand written menu as proof of your complaint, because it will
likely disappear without a trace by the time the manager arrives.
Note about scams: Far and away, the most common small scams occur in res-
taurants and bars when tourists are distracted and not paying attention to the
menu or bill. I have mentioned the most common scams, but this list is by no
means exhaustive. As long as you pay attention and realize that you can always
demand to speak to the restaurant manager or boss if there is any major discrep-
ancy, you will be fine. In Cuba, the tourist is king . The Cuban economy is com-
pletely reliant on tourism and the goal of all state-run companies is to encourage
tourist enjoyment and repeat business. If you ever think you are being conned
and feel you have no other alternatives, simply threaten to call the police or the
authorities. This will usually put a quick halt to the scam. If the scammer ever
threatens to call the police on you, for example, if you refuse to pay an obviously
inflated restaurant bill, never have any fear. Even if the police were to come to in-
vestigate the situation (highly unlikely), they will always take the side of the tourist
over the restaurant, simply to defuse the situation and end the conflict.
Interesting Fact: Most scams are perpetrated by individual, small time con artists.
Their main goal is to make a few dollars per day, as this would equate to a very
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