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he food in restaurants has improved greatly in the last years, due partly to an improving economy and to the government's emphasis on tourism. There's no need to pack extra food and water. Remember, only the US enforces the trade embargo, to every one else Cuba is simply a wonderful vacation destination, and the Cubans are well aware of the need to please finicky tourists.

There are several types of restaurants:

 

Casa Albertina

Budget Accommodation
in Vedado, Havana

Hotel Nacional

Recomended Hotel
in Havana

1) Restaurants in Hotels (which are generally good, but pricey [although reasonable compared to the US or Europe])

2) Restaurants for Cubans (authentic, tasty, and cheap)

3) Paladares (privately operated "restaurants," officially allowed up to 12 seats [some have more, however]. the food is sometimes excellent, and you know that your money goes directly to the people when you eat there, but the prices are only fair--still, less expensive than the hotels)

Based on my personal experience and first hand travel experiences from other travelers to Cuba, it can be concluded that the number one problem for tourists there is finding a decent place to eat. Before the emergence of paladares, choices were limited to either expensive state run hotel restaurants and cafeterias or snack stands along the streets. The little bodegas, Cuban national eating places, were off limits for the most part to tourists as they accepted only Cuban pesos. With the Cuban government opening up its shores to international tourism in 1993 and allowing the privatization of paladares in 1995, things began to change. Today, paladares abound. The main problem with them is that the legal ones are taxed so high that many do not have the money to advertise and the prices has being raced in the last year. Many times they will hire a “tout”, or guide, to help bring in customers. Of course, the guides work on commission only, and therefore tend to favor only those paladares from which they can profit and push up the prices also. There are also illegal paladares, but they seem to close as fast as they open. This of course, is why there is a dilemma for tourists.

But if you are accommodated in a casa particular you can talk to the owner of the house to prepare meals for you. the prices of the meals in casas particulares vary according what you want to eat and the location of the casa particular for example in havana is a little more expensive than in camaguey or other provinces, but the difference is not too much.. probably 1 dollar or 2 more or less.

In the last 2 years has also grown a (government & privates) operated restaurant that some times are better than paladars or restaurants in hotels and are basically designed to cubans, the food is regularly less expensive than in paladars and generally very tasty and authentic an example of this is the china town restaurants in the center of havana.

And finally you can take a pizza in the streets for 6 to 10 cuban pesos (less than ¢ 0.50 USD ) or a "pan con jamon" (Ham sandwich) but we don't recommend this, the pizza preparation stinks and the ham is gene ray out of refrigeration for long hours and can be harmful for your health

 

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