Unlike the stereotype of Cubans loving spicy and flavourful food, the opposite is almost true. To an extent, Cubans dislike spicy food and herbs are hard to come by on the island. Due to Cuba’s economic instability and embargo with the US certain foods are hard to come by and it’s not unusual for restaurants to not be able to serve everything on the menu. This being said the portions tend to be excessive as if to make up for this and the food is locally grown and fresh. You’re likely to find a lot of fried pork and chicken accompanied by rice, beans and vegetables. It’s probably worth saying that being a vegetarian in Cuba can be difficult with meat dominating most dishes.
The best places to eat are the paladares which are owned by individuals rather than the government owned restaurants. The government owned eateries are notorious for having slow service, poor quality of food and a lack of variety. Paladares, however, are small restaurants owned by Cuban locals when owning a small business became legal. The menus fluctuate greatly as owners can have one ingredient one hour, and then run the next forcing them to improvise. This is why many paladares have their menus written on chalkboards, rather than in a more permanent way.
As you’d expect Cuba thrives on rum. The national drink is cheap and available almost everywhere. Dark rum is served neat while the cheaper form of white rum is found mixed into cocktails. Unsurprisingly the Cuban drinking age is 16, Salud!