You’re looking to experience Cuba for the first time, and you want to eat just like a local. If you’ve read our guide, you already know all about the local rum, but what about the snacks? Here are some local staples you’re sure to find on menu or sizzling on a street cart.
Walking around Havana, you may find freshly cooked bags of potato chips on display in some windows. Perfectly browned and crisped, you’ll taste the freshness in every bite, something different from the bags of mass-produced chips you’ll get from most street vendors in the U.S.
Generally speaking, seafood is a must-have in Cuba. While some villages in Cuba are restricted by the government from serving seafood, you should find plenty of fresh fish in Havana. Everything from grilled lobster and fried calamari to freshly caught and prepared red snapper and shrimp.
It’s impossible to avoid this delicious Cuban side dish: They are served with almost every meal, usually stewed down to a sauce.
And where there are black beans, you’ll likely find tender chunks of roasted pork nearby. At Havana’s El Palenque, you can even order roast pork by the kilo.
You’ll find paper cones filled with freshly roasted and salted peanuts on many Havana street corners; they are the perfect snack for exploring the city on foot.
Did you know that the Sloppy Joe was invented in Cuba? In fact, the point of origin, Sloppy Joe’s Havana Bar, just reopened in 2013 after being closed for nearly 50 years. This mixture of ground beef, capers and olives is very different from the sandwich you know and love (or loathe) from childhood, so it’s well worth trying.
See a street vendor making fresh churros? Go for it! When each churro is prepared to order, you’re in for something far more exciting than the stale sticks sold by some U.S. street vendors: These are chewy, crispy, and often huge, so you might want to share with a friend!