Most people think that Cuban food is spicy. A lot of that assumption is based on how Cuban restaurants have altered traditional Cuban dishes in the states and other countries. However, you’ll be surprised to find out that it can be pretty bland. We’ve been 6 times now and decided to write a blog about some of the most unique and tasty dishes you can find if you’re interested in tasting the local flavors and experiencing Cuban food. Here are our top 10 must eats in Cuba!
- Vaca Frita – The translation is pretty spot on. This is fried and shredded skirt or flank steak. It is often topped with sauteed onions and served with rice and black beans. Don’t let the description fool you, it’s one of our faves!
- Ropa Vieja – While we’re on the beef train, this is one of the most popular dishes. It’s a pretty filling main course of shredded and braised beef with plenty of healthy, tasty vegetables, like onions, peppers and olives.
- Lechon Asado – It’s hard to find a Cuban who doesn’t have a memory of spending hours waiting for a lechon, a whole pig, to finish cooking in someone’s backyard, and then sharing it with family and friends. What makes Cuban-style pork different is the use of mojo criollo, a highly seasoned marinade made up of tangy citrus juice, lots of garlic, cumin, and oregano.
- Boliche – This is an intricate Cuban pot roast dish consisting of eye round beef roast. It’s stuffed with ham then browned in olive oil and simmered in water with onions until the meat is soft. It’s typically served with quartered potatoes.
Yuca con mojo – A Cuban side dish made by marinating yuca root (also known as cassava) in garlic, lime, and olive oil. This is one of Cuba’s national dishes.
Costillitas – Grilled Cuban Style Pork Ribs seasoned with lemon juice, sour orange, garlic and Latin spices. Freaking yum. If you like ribs, this is my #1 rec for you.
Rabo encendido – Now, you may hear oxtail soup and think, GROSS, however, it’s a top favorite among Cubans. The oxtail is simmered in a savory tomato-based stew until it is falling off the bone. It’s not my thing but most people love it.
Pernil Relleno de moros y cristianos – In Cuba, it’s very common to find your dishes with moros y cristianos (black beans and rice.)
Medianoche – Medianoche is a type of sandwich which originated in Cuba. It is also served in many Cuban communities in the United States. It is so named because of the sandwich’s popularity as a staple served in Havana’s night clubs right around or after midnight. AKA late night grub!
Frita (cuban hamburger) – The original Frita is a Cuban dish with a seasoned ground beef and pork patty on Cuban bread (sometimes mixed with chorizo) and topped with shoestring potatoes. Basically the ultimate burger.
Needless to say, Cuba has a variety of local dishes to offer. If you’re a meat eater, you should put Cuba on your culinary list ASAP. If you’re a vegetarian heading to Cuba, don’t fret, the locals are very accommodating and helpful.
If this blog has you dreaming of Cuba, now is the time to go. We have no idea what to expect with the political climate in the US but we have legal group itineraries in April and November that are grandfathered in and guaranteed to run this year. To learn more, check out our Cuba page HERE. You can also send us an email to [email protected] with any questions about travel to Cuba.