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Food in Cuba is not dramatic in taste, but traditional dishes such as "frigoles negros
con arroz" black beans and rice or platano frito fried plantains, are hearty and filling.
You'll find your tastiest and most authentic plates at paladares, or private restaurants.
Paladares became legal in 1995, they serves lunch, dinner, or both, but not breakfast.
Finding one of these private restaurants is easy, although they are not advertised in the traditional sense. Walk down almost any street especially around lunch and dinner time in Habana Vieja, and inevitably, Cubans will ask you to follow them to a restaurant. We suggested a paladar for evening meal.
You can also ask taxi drivers, bicycle taxi drivers or other service personnel for recommendations. But don't expect suggestions from hotel desk, as private restaurants are heavyweight competition for hotel restaurants.
If someone guides you to a paladar, a tip will probably be expected.
As little as CUC$1 will do, as they generally also receive an additional kickback from the restaurant's owner. Meals should cost anywhere from CUC$8 to CUC$15.
Most menus will list prices. If yours does not, agree upon a price while ordering. Tipping at paladares should follow American restaurant tipping standards, 10% of the total bill. Paladares specialize in authentic Cuban dishes.
Servings of staple items, such as moro black beans and rice fried together, pollo chicken, or puerco pork, are ample but fresh vegetables and fruits are scarce.
Despite the rule against serving fish and seafood, many paladares can fill a request for tuna or langosta lobster, although items might not appear on the menu.
Nice place for unexpressive good food is in China Town, located in Vedado center and the Bodeguita del Medio in Old Havana.