Good food in Cuba
In Cuba, good food can sometimes be difficult. How do you find a good restaurant?
You basically have four categories of restaurants in Cuba:
good and expensive,
bad and expensive,
Cheap and good
Cheap and bad.
How not to
How do you make the distinction? Certainly not with Tripadvisor because that is written by people who are traveling and therefore do not know the city well. How do they know which restaurant is the best if they have only eaten at three different places? Just look at your own city. There are restaurants where you would never eat as the best recommended!
Google maps is already slightly better. But then look at the reviews of people who write regularly. Everyone with 1 or 2 reviews is a friend of the owner. Some owners have a lot of friends!
Always and everywhere in the world ‘Eat where the locals eat’ is good advice and for Cuba that applies to Cheap and (reasonably) good. If there are Cubans queuing for a restaurant, you can assume that you can eat cheaply and reasonably well there. The price you pay extra is the time you stand in line. This advice does not apply to pizzas. Cuban pizza is to be avoided forever!
Spot the residential foreigner
If you want to eat really tasty and not too expensive, I have another advice. Eat where the local foreigners eat.
The local foreigners are quite easy to spot here in Cuba. They are usually Canadian, Italian or other Western retirees (usually men). Recognizable by dyed hair or a comb over, short cargo pants, often hiking sandals and a present belly. They sit at the table with peers or with a lady that is too young. If you spot them in a restaurant, you can eat excellent food there with peace of mind!
In London you don’t eat at Trafalgar Square either. So there where all the tourists wander around and the proppers want to talk to you at a table, you better just keep walking because then you are sure that you eat expensive and bad.
On the road
Along the way you will find quite a few restaurants that offer ‘Comida Criollo’. That stands for typical Cuban food. Stop where the trucks are and not where the buses eat. Truck drivers know where you can eat tasty and cheap. Bus drivers stop where they get the most commission…
Find the local foreigner, just off the beaten track, for a good meal.
But before you even think about food… Get your money straight!