17 mouthwatering foods you need to try in Cuba

Plantainsjrroman / iStockPlantains are popular in Cuba.

The stabilised relationship between the US and Cuba has inspired many travellers to finally visit the enigmatic country.

Cuba has some beautiful scenery — and some delicious food.

From croquetas stuffed with melted cheese and ham to sticky sweet plantains, Cuba’s cuisine offers rich and tasty flavours.


Known as a Cuban hamburger, the frita is a patty of seasoned ground beef -- sometimes mixed with chorizo -- topped with crunchy shoe string fries, all sandwiched in between a Cuban bun. Some places even add a fried egg.


Corn on the cob in Cuba is known as elote, and it's done a little differently than in the US. The corn is grilled, rolled in cojita cheese, sprinkled generously with chilli powder, and finished off with some lime juice, making for a richer and spicier taste.


Although Spain is the traditional destination for paella, Cuba offers its own version made with ham, chicken, mussels, chorizo, shrimp, scallops, and lobster.


There's nothing quite like biting into a warm, crisp churro that's dusted with sugar. It's a street food must -- watching your churros being made is half the fun.


You may know these as croquettes, but in Cuba they're known as croquetas, fried balls of melted cheese mixed with bits of ham.

Ropa vieja

Although ropa vieja doesn't have the most appetizing of names -- it literally means 'old clothes' in Spanish -- the dish itself is a mouthwatering blend of shredded beef stewed in tomato sauce, often served with rice or over tortillas.


Plantains (a member of the banana family, but higher in starch and lower in sugar) are a staple in Cuban cooking. Platanos maduros are caramelised plantains that have been lightly fried so that they're browned, sticky, and sweet.


Chicharrónes are crispy fried pork rinds, which can be made either from pork skin or fried pork belly.

Moros y cristianos

The meat and potatoes of Cuban cuisine, white rice with black beans is a common dish known as moros y cristianos.


Tostones -- also known as chatinos -- are fried plantains, a popular savoury side dish in Cuba.

Vaca frita

Related to ropa vieja, vaca frita translates to fried cow, and features beef marinated in lime, garlic, and salt, then seared to a crispy texture.


Flan is one of Cuba's more traditional desserts; it's a sugary smooth cake -- think jello in a creamier, more solid form -- made with caramel, eggs, and milk.


The biggest difference between Cuban tamales and Mexican tamales is that in Cuban tamales, the meat (usually pork) is mixed in with the dough of the tamale, instead of being used as a filling. Cubans also use field corn to make their tamales, which is less sweet and more mealy than the corn you'll find in the US.

Lechon asado

Lechon asado is a classic pork roast that is prepared by roasting a whole pig until the skin is crispy. The meat is often served with mojo sauce, a spicy Cuban marinade.


Meaning midnight in Spanish, a medianoche is similar to a Cuban sandwich and is commonly served in Havana's nightclubs (hence the name). Unlike a Cuban sandwich, there is no mayo on a medianoche; it's just ham, pork, cheese, and pickles pressed between sweet egg bread.

Arroz con pollo

A favourite chicken dish in Cuba, arroz con pollo is similar to paella, but without the seafood. The dish features rice and chicken with a traditional sofrito base.


Costillitas are baby back ribs with a Cuban twist: The ribs are marinated and served with a mix of sour orange juice, lime juice, oregano, garlic, and olive oil, making for a sweet, tangy taste.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.