Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Most state restaurants will also offer special table d'hôte menus, generally re-
ferred to as Ofertas . These are always the most popular and cheapest meal op-
tions. They consist of a main dish, dessert and a drink. Portions are usually very
generous and the total price for these complete meals is about 3 to 4 CUC. In the
following section, titled Cuban Cuisine , I will outline the typical foods you can ex-
pect to order in these Oferta specials.
Most state-run restaurants in major cities have food prices marked in CUC.
However, a fair number of restaurants can also be found which price their meals
in Moneda Nacional. Prices at these restaurants are even more affordable and
the service and food choices are almost exactly comparable to CUC priced
Also, if you don't speak Spanish, you should know that the Spanish word for
menu is la carta. If you are exploring the city and find an interesting restaurant, al-
ways ask to view la carta before entering, so that you can check out the menu
and prices.
Note: The menus at all state-run restaurants will either be priced in CUC or MN.
Sometimes the food will be priced in MN while the drinks (especially the alcohol)
will be priced in CUC. This is normal. But, there will never be one menu for tour-
ists, priced in CUC, and another for locals, priced in MN. Furthermore, the menu
will always be typed out, never handwritten. I will elaborate on these points further
in the section titled Common Tourist Scams…
A paladar is a broad term used to describe any type of private restaurant in Cuba,
from the largest and most formal private dining hall to the tiniest, street side fast
food joint. For the purposes of this topic, I will use the term paladar when referring
to privately owned, sit down restaurants only.
Private restaurants are a very popular dining option for tourists throughout Cuba.
They are usually a bit more expensive than state-run restaurants, although the
food choices can be more varied. Many paladares will offer international dishes
made from ingredients which they import. Some choose to focus on making au-
thentic Cuban cuisine to the highest standards possible. The fact that paladares
are privately owned usually means that the service and food quality will be higher
than comparable state-operated establishments, but that is not always the case.
Generally, meals in paladars will cost about 5 to 15 CUC per person. For more
upscale food choices, such as fish or lobster, you can expect to pay considerably
more. Always review the details of your restaurant bill, as it is common to over-
charge guests. Formal paladares almost always charge their fares in CUC, and if
you do find one which advertises prices in MN, double check before you order, or
you might be in for an unpleasant surprise at the end of the evening.
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