What to Eat and Drink in Cuba

One of my favorite ways to experience a new culture is by sipping and eating the local way. I definitely plan trips around what restaurants come highly recommended and try to schedule in plenty of time to sit and relax during or after busy day of sightseeing over a delicious plate of food and a cold drink. My feet and stomach are extremely happy about this fact! Plus, it’s nice to have time to process all that you’re seeing and doing and discuss it with fellow travelers to get their insights. Check out my suggestions on what to eat and drink in Cuba!


Cuban Cocktail

Since the national drink of Cuba is the mojito, I had plenty of opportunities to taste test the minty, limey cocktail and figure out which ones I preferred. My favorite mojito of the trip was served at the Hotel Del Tejadillo where we stayed that I mentioned in my last post about Cuba. I’m convinced the secret to a great mojito is using fresh mint and high-quality white rum. Havana Club is one of the most popular brands of rum in Cuba and was an ingredient in most of the mojitos I tried. Popular waterholes around town include La Bodeguita del Medio (made famous by Hemingway proclaiming their mojitos to be the best) , El Floridita for daquiris, and the historic Sloppy Joe’s Bar for their cocktail. I also had some stellar piña coladas at the beach!

Havana Food Experiences

Al Fresco Dining at Doña Eutemia

Hands down my favorite dining experience in Havana was at one of Lonely Planet’s top choice restaurants, Doña Eutemia, near the Catedral in Habana Vieja. The restaurant is tucked in a corner of an alley filled with al fresco dining options. I highly recommend making reservations since we showed up one night to eat but couldn’t get a table so went ahead and booked for the next night. I’m so glad we did because the ropa vieja, made with shredded lamb instead of traditional beef, was delicious and one of the best meals I had in Cuba! The service was excellent and an English menu option is offered. The prices were very reasonable as well. Ask for an outside table if the weather’s nice!

El Abije

The state-owned El Aljibe offers a set menu of roast chicken and all you can eat rice, beans, salad and bread. I was most impressed by the efficient service we received. I also love trying street food when I travel, and I enjoyed the churros, peanuts served in a cone, and fresh coconuts. And of course don’t forget to try flan for dessert!



The best meal I ate in Cuba was the lobster at El Mojito in Varadero. It’s a family-owned restaurant with a great facility and fun ambiance with the band playing music for you while you eat. I looked up reviews on Tripadvisor after the fact since this was a meal that was included as part of trip and some reviewers felt that the menu is overpriced. I thought the lobster was superb, and compared to what we pay for seafood in the US, I imagine it’s a deal.

If you’re planning a trip to Cuba soon, let me know if you have any questions. This post is part of a four part series on Cuba. Check out the next post about hopping finds in Cuba.

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Highlights of Havana

I had the amazing opportunity to go to Cuba as part of a week-long study abroad. Our first four nights were spent in Havana and the last two in the beach resort town of Varadero. While some of the travel restrictions for Americans to go to Cuba have been lifted, your reason for travel must fall within one of twelve categories, including educational, journalistic, or humanitarian activities. Americans cannot travel to Cuba only as tourists quite yet, but changes are coming, and the Cubans I met are excited about the normalizing relationship between their country and the US. I saw and learned so much in my three full days of Havana, but here are a few ideas of what to see and do in this beautiful, unique city. Check out my Havana Google map for all the sites that make up my highlights of Havana!

Highlights of Havana www.afriendafar.com #cuba #havana

Plazas of Habana Vieja

Plaza de la Catedral- www.afriendafar.com #havana #cuba #habana

The hotel we stayed at, Hotel del Tejadillo, was right around the corner from the Plaza de Catedral, the very first plaza I saw in Habana Vieja (Old Havana). The Catedral de la Habana dominates the square and has a Baroque facade with two towers, with the right one wider than the left. One night the church doors were open for a free concert, so I got to go inside for a look around. I love sitting in old cathedrals and marveling at their beauty.

Colonial Mansion- Plaza Vieja www.afriendafar.com #havana #cuba #habana

Plaza Vieja is not actually the oldest plaza in Havana, but most of the buildings around it are wonderfully restored. One of my favorite buildings we saw on the trip was located in this plaza. Plaza de Armas, the actual oldest plaza, is where the city of Havana was established in 1519 and is surrounded by buildings included El Templete, which marks the foundation of Havana, the impressive fortress Castillo de la Real Fuerza to the north, and the Museo de la Ciudad.

Wandering down Calles

Edificio Bacardi www.afriendafar.com #havana #cuba

One of the best ways to get to know a city is to do lots of walking, and Havana is a perfect city for meandering down streets and getting lost. Obispo is a crowded, pedestrian-only street that cuts from Plaza de Armas to Parque Central. You can see the classy 1920 Hotel Ambos Mundos where Ernest Hemingway stayed for a decade. Strolling farther along Obispo there’s an old pharmacy with porcelain medicine jars, shops and street art. On the other end of Obispo is the Art Deco-style Edificio Bacardi building with their bat symbol adorning the top of the building.

Calle Mercaderes www.afriendafar.com #havana #cuba

Calle Mercaderes was my favorite street because of the cobblestones and historic buildings. The Mural de Mercaderes depicts a multitude of Cuban historical figures such as politicians and artists. There are tons of museums, boutiques, hotels, cafes, and galleries to explore along Mercaderes and plenty of opportunities to interact with locals.

Paseo de Martí www.afriendafar.com #cuba #havana

Paseo de Martí is a fantastic street to stroll down. We started near the Capitolio, which may look familiar to you since it’s modeled after the DC Capitol. You pass many colorful buildings, famous vintage cars of Cuba, the beautifully ornate Gran Teatro, and Parque Central. There’s a bunch of restoration work and construction going on in Havana right now, which is hopeful to see. Past Parque Central, Paseo del Prado is a wide walkway for pedestrians with trees on both sides. It was here we heard loud car horns and saw a bride riding in an old, red & white convertible to the church for her wedding. Seeing little cultural moments like this is always delightful!

Museums & Churches

Museum of the Revolution www.afriendafar.com #havana #cuba

The Museo de la Revolución is housed in the former presidential palace of General Batista with its impressive dome and pretty hall of mirrors. There is an overwhelming wealth of information about the Revolution in the museum. As an American, reading about history from a Cuban perspective is very different than what we have been taught,and the Wall of Cretins gives a little insight into their thoughts on some of our political figures. Outside in the garden, airplanes and vehicles used in the Bay of Pigs invasion are on display.

Regla www.afriendafar.com #havana #cuba

We took a ferry with locals across the canal from Old Havana to Regla to visit the church and museum there. On Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Regla‘s main altar is a black Madonna that is used in both Catholicism and the Afro-Cuba religion Santería. The church was surprisingly crowded for a mid-morning visit during the week. It was fascinating to learn more about the Santería religion at the Museo Municipal de Regla. Similar to saints in Catholicism, orishas form the basis of the religion and act as intermediaries between humans and the principal god, and altars are decorated with the associated color and items.

Plaza Vieja www.afriendafar.com #cuba #havana

By the end of the trip, I was already planning what I would see my next time in Cuba because there’s always more to see! Plus, I think it would be fascinating to return after a while and see what changes have happened. There’s still more to share about Cuba, and coming soon are posts on shopping and food & drink. Also check out my earlier post Cuba Packing List if you missed it!

This post is part of a four part series on Cuba. Check out the next post, Good Eats & Drinks in Cuba.

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.

Cuba Packing List

- www.afriendafar.com #cuba #packinglist

When I went on a week-long educational trip to Cuba, I made a packing list so I wouldn’t forget anything important. Here’s a look at what was inside my carry-on size roller board suitcase and my Baggu backpack for my Cuba packing list:

Top Row: BAGGU Canvas Backpack – Sailor Stripe | Keds White Canvas| Jersey Tank Dress
Middle Row: Noir Maillot from RedDollySwimwear | BAGGU Elephant Jade Standard | Art Deco Notebook
Bottom Row: Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Cuba | Havana StreetSmart Map Vintage Style Camera Strap


Jeans, graphic tee, sweater, and Keds to wear on the plane on the way to Cuba
3 skirts, 3 solid tees, 3 print tops to mix and match, and 2 tanks
1 solid strapless dress that doubles as a skirt (an amazing J.Crew item from a few years ago)
4 dresses (2 solid, 2 prints)
4 pair of sandals including shower shoes
Another sweater for meetings in air-conditioned rooms
Minimal jewelry (left the wedding ring at home)
Vintage style swimsuit from Red Dolly Swimwear
Loads of cotton undies which is critical in the heat and humidity

Other Essentials

Restocked medicine bag
Extra toothbrushes and toothpaste to leave for hotel staff since these items are difficult to find in Cuba
SPF50 sunscreen
Baggu shopping bag for souvenir shopping and doubled as a beach bag
Old Blackberry that I used with a temporary Cubacel SIM card bought in Havana
Sleep mask and earplugs (I don’t travel anywhere without them!)
Travel poncho

Backpack Carry-on

Passport, copy of passport, important documents
Camera bag with camera and new fun strap
Top 10 Cuba guidebook and Havana StreetSmart® map
Cold, hard cash since Americans can’t yet use ATMs in Cuba
Scarf for the chilly plane
Cross-body purse with wallet, lip gloss with SPF, hand sanitizer, hankie, sunglasses, and the usual

This post is part of a four part series on Cuba. Check out the next post, Highlights of Havana.

{This is not a sponsored post. There are items I’ve bought and thought you might want for your next tropical city/beach vacation!}

Meagan grew up in the North Georgia Mountains and spent her first trip abroad in Italy. She’s been traveling all over the world ever since, learning Spanish, Japanese, and Thai. She travels for the food, the culture, and the history.