the buns in a panini press, or garnish the burger with lettuce, tomato and cheese.
In Havana, prices range from 8 to 10 pesos (MN). In my experience, the best bur-
ger locations are around the Capitolio. They serve the tastiest and cheapest bur-
gers, grilled fresh to order. Note: Some state cafeterias will advertise cheap ham-
burgers, sometimes for as low as 4 pesos. These are not quality burgers, as the
meat is usually nothing more than a thin slice of breaded pork croquette. You are
better off paying a few pesos more and ordering from an establishment where you
can actually see the burgers being prepared and cooked as you wait.
These are most often sold at state-run, fast food outlets, usually in jumbo format.
They are called perros calientes . Steam cooked and served in large Cuban bread
rolls, these usually cost only 10 pesos (MN). Some independent vendors sell
them as well, but beware; the cheaper priced ones usually consist of regular sized
hot dogs, rather than jumbo ones.
Pizza and Spaghetti
In Cuba, it is almost impossible to find classic, Italian-style pizza and spaghetti.
But that's not necessarily a bad thing. The Cuban versions are usually tasty, and
at 5 to 10 pesos (MN) per serving, they are definitely affordable. Pizzas are usu-
ally prepared in shallow pans and cooked in ovens or barbeques. The dough is
usually thick, with crispy, burnt cheese around the edge. Napoletana style pizzas
are the most popular and are topped with tomato sauce and cheese. Other top-
pings, such as ham, onion or pineapple can be added at a nominal cost. As for
the spaghetti, the serving portions are usually ample, and the tomato sauce and
cheese tasty, but the noodles themselves are usually overcooked. If you're a per-
fectionist, this might disappoint you, but for most, it will not be a major concern.
Another popular fast food option, especially for people desiring a full meal, are
small, takeaway cardboard boxes filled with freshly cooked, authentic Cuban
food. These little boxes are called cajitas. They contain a portion of meat (usually
fried pork fillet ( bistec ), a pork chop ( chuleta ), or a battered and fried chicken thigh
( pollo )), along with rice and beans, a small salad and a side of yuca or sweet
potato. In Havana, a cajita will usually cost about 25 to 35 pesos (MN).
If you have a hankering for a savory, freshly fried snack, then these will definitely
appeal to you. They are little balls of dough, infused with garlic and salt, fried
fresh as you order. They cost only 1 peso (MN) each. They come out of the fryer
steaming hot, usually still crackling from the boiling oil. It is common to see fritura
vendors with long lineups in front. Cubans usually order a dozen at a time. Some-
times you might find vendors selling frituras made with malanga , which is a tradi-