Cuisine in Cuba

Cuba has a rich cuisine that has evolved out of the island’s multi-layered, émigré history and new restaurants are opening all the time. Cuba Private Travel has more than 15 years of experience so whether you simply want not to miss out on reservations at the best new restaurants, or want to get deeper under the skin of the food culture, we can help.

Amerindians (Taino, Guanahatabey, and Siboney), Spanish colonials, especially from Galicia and the Canary Islands, French slave owners from Haiti, Chinese, Jewish, Arab and American migrants have all combined to leave a culinary mark on Cuba.

“Pan con lechon is the best and I can’t resist stopping, or making a special journey, to this roadside stop on the way east.”

Raul Naranjo

Operations Director - Cuba Private Travel Team

Havana’s many paladares (private restaurants) offer the full breadth of the Cuban foodie experience, from the raw, domestic earthiness of classic Creole cooking to the finest sirloin with a shrimp and celery mousse. In the know locals seek out their favourite Café Cubano aficionados who brew their intense coffee with five stacked tablespoons of sugar added to one cup of water to create a sooty dark, smoky-sweet pick me up.

Havana’s paladar – private restaurant – scene, is developing fast. Private restaurants were legalized in Cuba during the 1990s but prohibitive taxes and regulations, along with ignorance about entrepreneurism and a dearth of ingredients, meant that most were uninspired front-room affairs. However since Raúl Castro sanctioned small businesses, chefs are now returning from overseas with capital to fund homegrown projects as the number of covers permitted at a private restaurant has gone from 12 to between 50 or 100.

“My favorite restaurant in Havana is Jibaro, a funky little restaurant in Old Havana, with great mocktails and delicious food. One Saturday every month they also have children’s day, reviving old street games with local children.”

Ivett Rodriguez

Operations - Cuba Private Travel Team

Cuba Private Travel can bring you to meet meet up with these entrepreneurial restaurateurs and the small organic farmers who supply them, both in the city and further afield to understand the changes taking place. In all likelihood they will have a feast of freshly prepared ingredients waiting for you as well. The trick is knowing who to ask! Whilst Havana’s newfound culinary sophistication hasn’t filtered far beyond the city limits, if you want to explore the rich, Creole cuisine of the wider island we know where to go, and if there’s a restaurateur shaking up the scene we can get you a table. Exciting openings are lighting up Trinidad, an iconic colonial town in a fertile swathe of mountain and sea on the south coast.

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The best things to do in Cuba and our travel tips

The Cuba Private Travel team has access to the very best in Cuban art, music, literature, dance, environment, history and architecture as well as Cuba’s most outstanding beaches and accommodation. By listening to you, the independent traveller, we are able to create tailor-made travel itineraries for your vacation that take you to the heart of Cuba’s culture, landscape and people. Cuba Private Travel’s bespoke itineraries are fully U.S. Treasury Department compliant and include access to personal guides, experts, interpreters and, of course, a 24-hour concierge.