Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Dining Options
Resort Restaurants
If you are staying at an all inclusive resort, most of your dining will take place at the
resort restaurants. In most resorts, the dining consists of a main buffet which oper-
ates at breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are also usually a few à la carte restaur-
ants scattered around the main campus which operate at dinner time. Generally,
the meal offerings at all the restaurants will be very similar. The main difference will
be in the dining atmosphere. While the buffet might be crowded and noisy, the à la
carte restaurants will tend to be quieter. The tradeoff is that there is no formal
dress code at the buffet restaurants while the à la carte restaurants usually require
diners to dress semi-formally. It is always best to check these details ahead of
time with your particular hotel.
Regular Dining Options (outside of a resort)
Take note that the information regarding the quality of the food and service in these
restaurants is highly subjective, and can change dramatically from one visit to the
next. I try to focus mainly on the facts rather than to give opinions, unless I feel it is
highly warranted.
There are four main types of dining establishments in Cuba: state-run restaurants,
independent paladares , street-side, quick food establishments (colloquially named
Chiringos ), and state-run cafeterias and fast food locations.
State-Run Restaurants
These restaurants are exactly as the name suggests. They usually look and feel
exactly like any western style restaurant, but they are not privately owned - they
are state-operated and controlled. The majority of formal, sit down restaurants in
Cuba are state-run. These establishments usually have a large staff, dressed in
formal uniforms. The restaurants usually have full alcohol permits and large
menus. Furthermore, the restaurants often have prominently displayed names and
are located near busy intersections and streets with high pedestrian traffic. They
clearly look like large, professional restaurants.
Outside of a few restaurants located in very touristy areas, the majority of state-run
restaurants are very reasonably priced and food quality is surprisingly good. Dining
at restaurants has always been a large part of Cuban culture. Throughout the re-
volution, even during the Special Period, these restaurants offered the opportunity
for Cuban citizens to experience a degree of relaxation and personal enjoyment
without having to spend a lot of money.
It should be noted that the menu selection and prices are fairly similar at many of
these state restaurants. Common menu items include pizza and pasta, along with
a few meat or seafood offerings. Most entrées are priced at about 2 to 5 CUC.
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