Cuban cuisine is just as unique and rich as the country itself: it blends a variety of diverse cultural influences, from the Native Taino people to African, Spanish, and Caribbean traditions. Because the food is a mezcla, or “mix,” of many different cuisines, its dishes often reflect various aspects of Caribbean, African, and Latin American traditions.
Fresh and simple, Cuban cuisine is not typically spicy, but it does possess its own flavor and flair. And, for those of you who are not sure, it is delicious. Though it’s impossible to list all of the different Cuban dishes in one short article, you can continue reading to discover the top foods you must try when visiting Cuba!
Cubans traditionally keep breakfast pretty basic: toast with butter or guava paste, fresh fruit, and perhaps eggs or some form of meat. But every breakfast is bound to include the famously strong and sweet Cuban coffee.
Simply put, coffee is a staple in Cuban culture.
Traditionally, Cuban coffee is a specific style of of espresso sweetened with natural brown sugar, which has been whipped with the first (and strongest) drops of espresso. But today, Cuban coffee comes in many variations. For example, you can order a a cortadito, which is a standard espresso shot topped with steamed milk, or if you are in a hurry, you can ask for a colada, which contains three to six shots of Cuban-style sweetened espresso that is typically served in a Styrofoam cup to take on the go. And, of course, there’s the famous café con leche (coffee with milk), a mug of unsweetened espresso which is poured into a cup of hot milk (not the other way around) until the desired darkness is reached.
Though it’s a staple in the mornings, many Cubans continue to drink coffee throughout the day — on work breaks or in the afternoons. With such an emphasis on this caffeinated beverage, chances are that you will return from Cuba a full-blown coffee addict. But trust us, it’s worth it!
What list of Cuban cuisine would be complete without a mention of the famous Cuban sandwich? Though it may come in different varieties, this famous sandwich typically includes ham, pork, cheese, pickles, and mustard, all piled between two pieces of deliciously flaky, light Cuban bread.
Literally translating to “old clothes,” this traditional Cuban dish consists of shredded beef cooked in tomatoes and served over fluffy white rice, black beans, and/or maduros (sweet fried plantains). Ropa Vieja is a hearty dish that is popular for both lunch and dinner.
Though the exact recipe may vary, picadillo generally includes minced beef with a sauce of tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and garlic. Some picadillo also include potatoes, chopped carrots, or string beans, and the dish is usually served with rice and black beans.
A mainstay of Cuban cooking, Ajiaco is a classic, hearty Cuban stew with a history that spans over 500 years. This stew features smoked pork or beef and native Cuban vegetables, like corn, yucca, plantains, and maybe even squash or sweet potato. You will see this dish in numerous Cuban homes, especially for family parties or other special occasions. This iconic and delicious meal is the perfect way to dive into Cuban culture!
Arroz con Pollo
Typical of most Latin American countries, Arroz con Pollo, or “Chicken with Rice,” can be made in one giant pot. Full of rice, tomatoes, garlic, and onion, this dish is chocked full of tasty spices and flavors. It can be served with a side frijoles molidos, or refried beans, and fried plantains. It will be a meal you will want to indulge in more than once!
Cuba’s version of rice and beans, a staple dish throughout the Caribbean, Congri is an iconic dish of black beans and white rice cooked together with onions, garlic, and green pepper. You can find this dish all over the island, but prepared in multiple different ways. It is also a common side dish with other Cuban meals.
You cannot go wrong with this deliciously sweet custard dessert. This creamy, cool treat is the perfect way to finish off a long, warm day.
Pastelitos de Guayaba
Do we really need to say anymore? After all, these light, flaky pastries are filled with sweet, warm, guava.
Is your mouth watering yet?
With all of these delicious options, we know it’s hard to choose! Join us on a Cuban adventure to experience the tasty delights of Cuban cuisine together! We can’t wait to welcome you to this vibrant, exciting, lively island.