Lunch Prices????

Old Feb 13, 18, 3:11 pm
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Lunch Prices????

Travelling to Cuba next month. I have been told by the guide to expect lunches to run between 10 and 15 cuc. I think that is way too much. I do not want to eat fancy meals everyday. I am happy with what we eat locally which usually runs about 6 or 7 and includes a meat, 2 sides and a drink. When I am in Europe, we eat Kabab shops with a Kabab, side and drink for about 5 to 8. Any ideas or suggestions, or even experience with this?
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Old Feb 13, 18, 6:23 pm
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The smaller sandwich/pizza shops in Havana can offer you something for below CUC 5.
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Old Feb 14, 18, 6:19 am
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Where are you going? You will find below 10cuc unless off course you go in tourist areas. I can highly recommend Cafe Galy in central Havana which is really good and all is under 10cuc (even almost all under 5cuc). Prices are in national currency (divide by 24).
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Old Feb 14, 18, 2:43 pm
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YOU should decide where to eat, not the guide. He's undoubtedly getting a cut for bringing you to a certain place.
Lunch can be a 2-4 CUC sandwich (maybe nice slices of roast pork for example) , or a more substantial (dinner-like) meal for 10.CUC or under. Alcoholic drinks at a tourist place run about 6 CUC, and much less in a small sandwich shop.
Don't forget that the extreme heat and humidity cuts some people's appetites for larger meals.
You can find some suggestions for better quality (and usually more substantial) meals in the restaurant section of the online monthly LaHabana.com , along with places to hear music, an
d more.
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Old Mar 3, 18, 6:20 am
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Tagging along here. I’m leaving for Cuba next Sunday and am also wondering how much I can expect to spend on food, taxis etc. (I am getting CAD for the trip). My breakfasts and dinners are included, but I need to buy my own lunch every day. I’m also the kind of person who eats in more local places (e.g. I do not need menus printed in English, I prefer local cuisine to “continental”, and so on).

I’m also a bit confused by the CUC/CUP issue—when I change money on the way in at the airport, how much CUC vs. CUP should I ask for? Where can one use CUP vs. CUC, or are they more or less interchangeable as payment at the 24:1 exchange rate?
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Old Mar 3, 18, 8:26 am
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Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
... I need to buy my own lunch every day. Im also the kind of person who eats in more local places .
You may not want to eat at "local places" since the quality and variety of what is available is often quite poor. YMMV Most importantly, though, you want to stay healthy when traveling.


Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
Im also a bit confused by the CUC/CUP issuewhen I change money on the way in at the airport, how much CUC vs. CUP should I ask for? Where can one use CUP vs. CUC, or are they more or less interchangeable as payment at the 24:1 exchange rate?
You can get only CUC at the cadecas, at least until the currency change happens.
(Gov't has said that they are returning to a one currency system, the CUP, but has not given a specific date. Speculation has it that this will be after Raul steps down, supposedly soon.)
You can ask for change in CUP when you shop using CUC.
CUC small coins also work for purchases that are cheap.
CUC and CUP are currently interchangeable, but not everyplace may have change (coins and bills) to give you in both currencies. For example, a restaurant that sells soup for 70 cents of 1 CUP may not have change for CUC. A tourist shop that sells items for CUC may not have a lot CUP to give in change, possibly just the sellers personal daily money.
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Old Mar 3, 18, 8:48 am
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Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
You can get only CUC at the cadecas, at least until the currency change happens.
(Gov't has said that they are returning to a one currency system, the CUP, but has not given a specific date. Speculation has it that this will be after Raul steps down, supposedly soon.)
You can ask for change in CUP when you shop using CUC.
CUC small coins also work for purchases that are cheap.
CUC and CUP are currently interchangeable, but not everyplace may have change (coins and bills) to give you in both currencies. For example, a restaurant that sells soup for 70 cents of 1 CUP may not have change for CUC. A tourist shop that sells items for CUC may not have a lot CUP to give in change, possibly just the sellers personal daily money.
Aha, thanks, that clears up some confusion. It does bring up another question: on my way out of the country, Id like to convert any unused currency back to CAD. Can I change CUP, or only CUC, for CAD? (I will be flying out of Varadero, so also not sure if VRA is as well equipped to do currency exchange as HAV).

Re: the food issue, Ive been traveling/living in emerging markets for 30+ years, so my stomach and I are quite used to local food in all its forms Generally whats good enough for the local population is good enough for me.
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Old Mar 3, 18, 1:36 pm
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Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
.... on my way out of the country, Id like to convert any unused currency back to CAD. Can I change CUP, or only CUC, for CAD? (I will be flying out of Varadero, so also not sure if VRA is as well equipped to do currency exchange as HAV).

As I said, the cadecas currently only trade in CUC. The official cadecas are all the same.
Varadero is very popular with Canadian package tourists, so I'm sure the cadeca there is well supplied with CAD.

Do the math before you convert USD to CAD. With fees, it may not be worth the time and effort for the small savings, particularly if you won't spend much. (Changing to Euros, then to CUC, the 'savings' is about $40 on $1000--not sure about CAD)

Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
Re: the food issue, Ive been traveling/living in emerging markets for 30+ years, so my stomach and I are quite used to local food in all its forms Generally whats good enough for the local population is good enough for me.
I find I don't have an appetite in the extreme heat and humidity, so I rarely bother with lunch, lunch places, or street food. A nice drink, on the other hand......
"Emerging markets" have little to do with the quality and variety of food in my experience. I have eaten tasty and very well at modest places in many developing countries. Best of luck with "local food in all its forms" in Cuba. If you've ever eaten Cuban food in the U.S., you're very likely to taste a big difference. Products are limited for locals. After living through the lacks of the Special Period in the 90s, they are happy to have full stomachs, no questions asked about what is filling them or where it came from. Cooking is often not very good, although the wife at my casa particular in Havana is pretty good with a few basics, and not very varied because of what locals can/cannot get. . But I myself am tired of returning home feeling faintly unhealthy from what I've consumed over a couple of weeks there. The restaurants that require advance reservations are popular with tourists for a reason, and even some of those haven't been very good. I have found a few good simple roast pork sandwiches and the like, though, at "local" lunch places. YMMV
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Old Mar 3, 18, 6:57 pm
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Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia View Post
[left]
As I said, the cadecas currently only trade in CUC. The official cadecas are all the same.
Varadero is very popular with Canadian package tourists, so I'm sure the cadeca there is well supplied with CAD.

Do the math before you convert USD to CAD. With fees, it may not be worth the time and effort for the small savings, particularly if you won't spend much. (Changing to Euros, then to CUC, the 'savings' is about $40 on $1000--not sure about CAD)


I find I don't have an appetite in the extreme heat and humidity, so I rarely bother with lunch, lunch places, or street food. A nice drink, on the other hand......
"Emerging markets" have little to do with the quality and variety of food in my experience. I have eaten tasty and very well at modest places in many developing countries. Best of luck with "local food in all its forms" in Cuba. If you've ever eaten Cuban food in the U.S., you're very likely to taste a big difference. Products are limited for locals. After living through the lacks of the Special Period in the 90s, they are happy to have full stomachs, no questions asked about what is filling them or where it came from. Cooking is often not very good, although the wife at my casa particular in Havana is pretty good with a few basics, and not very varied because of what locals can/cannot get. . But I myself am tired of returning home feeling faintly unhealthy from what I've consumed over a couple of weeks there. The restaurants that require advance reservations are popular with tourists for a reason, and even some of those haven't been very good. I have found a few good simple roast pork sandwiches and the like, though, at "local" lunch places. YMMV
I disagree with some of your comments on the food, at least in Havana. I have seen great change over the years (I have been going since 2000, am there often and have my own place--complicated transaction but doable). Today there are many excellent restaurants, with a wide variety of food selections and with pleasant atmosphere, at reasonable prices (entrees under 10CUC). Unless you are strapped for cash, for Pete's sake you're in wonderful Cuba and take advantage of what it has to offer. A few Havana examples: In Habana Vieja, Chacon 162, Cinco Esquinas and La Farmacia are reasonable, have outdoor tables, a variety of customers from all over, sometimes musicians show up, Cubans walk by and befriend you. (Do not accept "recommendations" on the street to eat at La Familia. These people get a commission, you pay a higher price, and the food is not good.) Outside the old quarter: VistaMar, overlooking the water; Castropol, facing Havana Bay; and for a well-worth splurge, San Cristobal in Centro Habana, a 6-8 CUC taxi ride and you'll be dining in a beautiful environment, with excellent cuisine--Obama dined there.
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Old Mar 3, 18, 9:47 pm
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Thanks for the recommendations. Im not doing a typical tourist program...I’ll need to be eating lunch in Vedado every day for a week while I’m in Havana (long story). I’ll check LaHabana.com and see what else I can find. That said, a roast pork sandwich would hit the spot nicely.
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Old Apr 8, 18, 11:51 pm
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@travelmad478. I was in Vedado for a few days last summer, and ate at a little non-touristy place near the corner of Calle 14 & Calle 19, I think called Las Dueas, at least according to google maps. Never got sick. Price was as little as $3 for dinner and a beer. Paid in CUC and CUP. Of course not everything on the menu was always available. Nothing was outstanding, but it was decent and wholesome.
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Old Apr 9, 18, 6:50 am
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Thanks hangpilot—my trip was last month, so I’m sorry to have missed trying your place. I did pretty well eating in Vedado and elsewhere—as you say, nothing outstanding, but prices in the $4-$5 range for filling, clean food.

I also had one very memorable lunch day in Matanzas where I got a roast pork sandwich from a street vendor for 10 pesos (moneda nacional) and then a chocolate ice cream cone from a shop across the street for 5 pesos. So all in all my lunch cost $0.60
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Old Apr 10, 18, 2:16 am
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I got back last week after spending 2wks in Cuba for the first time (did Havana, Trinidad, Cayo Santa Maria and Varadero).

In Havana, I liked a placed called "Chanchullero tapas" in old Havana. Very nice place, not too-tourist trap as most in old Havana are. Main dishes for about 4-6CUC. Complete dishes with bread, side salad, etc. Reasonable drink prices too. I went there twice and me and my wife spent an average of 18-20 cuc for a meal.

Not too impressed with the beach at Cayo Santa Maria (Cayo Las Brujas, technically, where we stayed). It is more secluded than Varadero, that is true. But the color of the water in Varadero actually was better than in Cayo.

I also used a taxi driver for a few trips throughout the island which I can fully recommend. Happy to share his contact if needed.
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Old Apr 10, 18, 8:08 pm
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Oh and FWIW, my stomach was not bothered in the least by anything I ate in Cuba, including street food. I eat raw vegetables, brush my teeth with tap water, and eat anything anyone puts in front of me. I do not get sick.
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Old May 2, 18, 3:22 pm
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Just look for CUP shops around the corner from the CUC places, even in Havana.

Continental breakfast or an egg sandwich is under $1. Lunch is under $2.
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