Cuba: How was the food?

That is the first question people ask me about my Cuban vacation. And how was the food? Always asked skeptically. It’s a legit question. Cuban resorts do not have the best reputation as far as food goes. I have heard many horror stories of getting sick from the food, from my own friends (none of us got sick!). They also do not seem to have a lot of condiment options, sauces, spices, etc. I pretty much live for sauce, I eat things FOR the sauce, so I was concerned about this. I also heard a lot of stories about resort food not being fresh. Like using the same dinner dish in the buffet for lunch the next day, etc.

I feel bad snarking on the food in another country, especially when Cuba doesn’t receive a lot of imports from outside countries. Evan and I were reading about it when we got back, and I think their main trade partner is Venezuela. So they are limited. It’s not like North America where we have access to absolutely everything imaginable. I don’t want to get into the politics of it all because I am not educated enough about the situation there to go on about it, and trying to compare it makes me feel a bit like a greedy, glutinous North American. But of course, food is a very important part of vacation, and people want to know about it.

The food on our resort was good. It wasn’t GREAT. But it was good. There was a lot of variety and though some things were on the sketchy side I could always find something to eat that I enjoyed. I actually wish there were more traditional Cuban dishes, because the things that I did not enjoy were mainly the things they made to try to appeal to tourists (pasta for example). Before you read this please know that I am probably the least pickiest person on the planet. I will eat anything, try anything once, and I really only draw the line at chicken feet, pig snouts, and cow hooves.

Things that our Cuban resort did right:

1. Ice Cream.
Oh my God, the coconut ice cream was to die for. I had it twice a day, in a cone as a snack either before or after lunch from the ice cream guy behind the snack bar (who was AWESOME), and again in a bowl for dinner dessert. I loved it. I have a serious craving for coconut ice cream right now. I want it. I want it in my FACE.

2. Shortbread cookies
Our resort had these little shortbread cookies hanging around that were also conveniently located in the ice cream stand with the awesome ice cream guy, and in the buffet. And I would crush those delicious little cookies on top of my coconut ice cream to make the best dessert imaginable. Such a good combination.

3. Fruit
The fruit was very fresh and amazing.

4. Olives
Specifically green olives with pits. They were so good.

5. Smoothies
The lady who worked at the breakfast smoothie bar was my girl! She was there every day except for Friday (her day off) and I hit her up every day for a fresh fruit smoothie with banana, pineapple, papaya, and guava (which Kelly calls lotion fruit because it tastes like lotion, and I kind of have to agree with her). I feel like the smoothie lady was the one true Cuban friend I made. Well, and the guy who ran the pasta station.

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I enjoyed him, but I did not enjoy his pasta.

6. Hotdogs
I don’t know what was in the hotdogs…probably the same leftover bits that are in the hotdogs here. But they were good. Just ask Evan.

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He likey.

I ate a lot of eggs, beans and rice, chicken, pork, fruit, and salad.

So, the buffet. Breakfast was easy. They had an omelette station and eggs made to order, so that was all fine. Most of the time I got over easy eggs and the only day I got an omelette was the first day when I was loading up my plate with all the things.

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The French toast was REALLY good, I had it every day. Did not enjoy the sausage. At all. I stayed away from it the rest of the week. I also stayed away from dairy. I thought both the butter and the cheese had a funny taste. You know how milk tastes different depending on the season, or your location? It may have been that, but to me the butter and the cheese especially had an almost slight mildew taste… This was very disappointing for me because I LOVE cheese. It is my favourite food ever. EVER. End of story. Chapter ends.

So I just avoided it, but I was sad about it.

The bacon was interesting…it had some skin with coarse hair on it. Like bristle-y hair. Sometimes the pork did as well. I still ate it, but I was on the lookout for that.

I never went to the buffet for lunch (I always went to the snack bar or Cuban a la carte), but most of my dinners looked like this:

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The fresh vegetables were pretty much limited to lettuce, tomato and cucumber. I never saw celery, and all the carrots I saw were pickled, which was kind of weird. But that could be a culture thing also. Those green beans, corn and peas were definitely canned or frozen, but I don’t mind frozen vegetables and I LOVE canned green beans, so all good. That plate is much more healthy than what I was hoping to eat there. I wanted to load up my plate with everything in the buffet, but some things were just a bit off and I couldn’t do it.

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I had to abandon the above salad because of the yogurt dressing (I thought it was Ranch, but surprise no). I thought it would be a good idea at the time, but again, the dairy and that weird taste. I just didn’t trust it. Sometimes the buffet had oil and vinegar around so I went with that, but otherwise I was sans dressing.

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That was the best night in the buffet. Wednesday I think. For some reason they had more options than usual, just that night. I got turkey breast, pork and beef, and it was all very delicious. And I have to mention that I really liked the beef meatballs also.

This was my very first buffet dinner and I learned very quickly that no.

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I was SURE the pasta bar was going to be my best friend, but the tomato sauce was just…like a tomato paste. No spices or anything. So I stuck with the beans and rice.

Our resort had a few a la carte restaurants, but we all only went one night since you had to make reservations and it was difficult to coordinate with the kiddos. Evan and I had reso’s for the Italian restaurant one night, but they were for 6pm and I wasn’t ready to leave the beach yet!

We all ate together every night in the buffet, and the one a la carte we made it to was the seafood restaurant.

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Just a big family dinner.

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I started with a fruit salad…

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And then an actual salad…

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Those green tomatoes were GOOD. Not so much the pickled carrots, but what can ya do?

I followed that with soup, like a creamy vegetable chicken soup, with croutons, and it was surprisingly really good.

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And then LOBSTER!

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It was not quite as good as the lobster we had at the dolphinarium, but it was still pretty good and a nice change from the buffet. Of course coconut ice cream followed this. Coconut ice cream followed every dinner.

The seafood restaurant had a really great atmosphere and it was right on the beach, so pretty beautiful views as well.

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Evan and I did also hit up the a la carte Cuban restaurant, El Guayabero, for lunch on two separate occasions. It was also right beside the beach, so it was very handy to just walk over in our beach garb and grab a quick lunch.

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It was definitely a step up from the buffet and I would say we had the best meals of our entire week there.

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The first time I started with the fresh fruit salad, which included pineapple, grapefruit, papaya and lotion fruit.

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And Evan and I shared the spaghetti also…

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Which was not great due to the same sauce issues…but it was alright. The amazing chicken made up for it though!

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That chicken was actually cooked with garlic under the skin, so that was a pleasant surprise. I loved it.

The next time we went there I started with a fresh salad.

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The salads there are not exactly what we’re used to, but they do the trick. Notice again the pickled carrots.

And again I had a really great main dish.

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Pork steak! SO GOOD. So amazingly good. Evan ordered the same and we were both raving about it. And their fries were great as well. Again, just ask Evan.

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He likey.

You could get fries in the snack bar near the beach 24 hours a day, so I had a lot of those. Their Ketchup was much like their tomato sauce so I was not a fan, but luckily we brought our own from home.

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Yeah I like fries with my Ketchup. We brought our own hot sauce also. I would recommend bringing both Ketchup and hot sauce if you’re going to Cuba. Trust me, you’ll use them. I might even bring my own salad dressing next time.

The snack bar also had hamburgers, hot dogs, and Roberto’s pizza at all hours!

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I had many a personal pizza on the beach. That was my first one, and from then on I got them without cheese. It didn’t taste quite like the pizza here, but it was still good.

So that was the food. Not totally blow-me-away amazing, but not too shabby at all. I’m actually kind of glad that everything wasn’t crazy good, because I would have eaten about twice more than I did and I would have come back and my pants wouldn’t fit. But I only gained about two pounds and I am pretty sure I can thank the alcohol for that. Because THAT was delicious. Pina coladas, mojitos, the Brisas cocktail, all the rum, Bucanero (beer), all day every day. Just living the dream.

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If you’ve been to Cuba, how was the food at your resort?

Evan’s mom recently went to Cuba, to a Spanish-owned the resort so they had more varieties of food, and she said the food was AMAZING!

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3 responses to “Cuba: How was the food?

  1. That looks very much like the food at the all-inclusives we’ve stayed at in Mexico & the Dominican Republic. And I, too, made the yogurt-is-not-ranch-dressing mistake. Ruined a perfectly good salad. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the cheeses at our resorts smelling or tasting odd… good thing, cause I LOVE cheese!! One of my favorite parts of each meal is sampling all the different cheeses. Mmmmm…..cheeeeese……..

  2. We went to Cuba a couple of years ago, to Varadero and the food was fine the big thing was you were limited in your choices. A few years before that we had been to Jamacia and we were totally spoiled by the cornacopia of food there. The only big difference that I noticed from your assessment was where we stayed the cheeses were amazing. I too love cheese and I was a total glutton, there were about 15 different varieties and they were all fabulous except for one which was horrible!

  3. Ah, that’s slightly sad. Although i could live off chips, beer and Pina Coladas quite easily!

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