Is This The Best Burger in Cuba?

hotel nacional

During our trip to Cuba we had to stop by the historic Hotel Nacional in Havana to check it out. While visiting the hotel, I mentioned how it felt like we were at a museum in some ways.

Free tours are offered at the property and if timing was on our side, I would’ve loved to have taken one of these tours of the hotel.

I’ve read (and heard from Anthony Bourdain) that the food in Cuba is much better than it used to be. The main reason for this is that many more private restaurants have opened in recent years. The types of food to being cooked is supposed to be creative and diverse.

While on our trip, I wouldn’t say that the food was horrible but it certainly wasn’t memorable. Positives would be cheap lobster for no more than $15 and decent shrimp dishes in the $8-$12 range. Overall, we found the food to be bland, the pizza to be pretty bad and the cost for food not as cheap as we had expected.

We had a lot to do during the last day of our visit. While walking around the hotel, we noticed lots of people sitting outside eating and drinking. We decided to take a look at the menu but it didn’t look so interesting. I still don’t get why they are popular in Cuba, but ham & cheese sandwiches just aren’t our thing!

(FYI- We rarely ever eat meals at hotel restaurants.)

Soon after, we took a wander around the lobby and saw a sign pointing downstairs to a cafeteria. Since we wanted to save time and not have to wander around to find food as we visited some sites, we decided to head downstairs to see this cafeteria.

The cafeteria ended being something more like a coffee shop called Cine.

A few tables were occupied and the food looked decent enough so we checked out the menu and decided to stay for a quick meal.

a close-up of a sign

The menu was a bit more expansive than the one upstairs. The prices were also pretty reasonable for such a nice hotel.

We ordered Lucas a chicken sandwich which was delicious. It cost around 5 CUC ($5). Kim ordered a tuna sandwich, priced at 6 CUC ($6). I don’t eat tuna so I didn’t give it a try but Kim said it was very good.

And I, not so surprisingly had to go with the burger. I think the menu described it as a jumbo burger with cheese, bacon and some other toppings which I left off.
a burger and fries on a plate

I had a burger a couple of days back in Trinidad, Cuba. That burger was an odd double patty which was decent  but nothing to really recommend.

While ordering the burger, I can’t say that I had high expectations but for 6 CUC ($6) it was worth a try.

When the burger arrived at the table, I was already impressed. It actually looked pretty much like a burger I’d get at home.

The burger comes as a single patty but it is quite large and filling. The burger isn’t only big. It happened to also be delicious! Lucas really loved it too!

The meat had a flavor close to a burger we’d have anywhere at home. The cheese wasn’t melted onto the burger in advance but it seemed to melt from the heat from the meat as I chowed down. The bacon had some flavor but didn’t add a ton to the dish. And the final ingredient, the bun was lightly toasted and definitely enjoyable.

It’s safe to say that this was the best meal of our trip! We all really enjoyed what we ordered and didn’t spent much more than $20 for the three of us.

If you’re planning to visit Havana in the near future, I’d highly recommend stopping by the Hotel Nacional. You can wander around and see some history and then get a good, affordable meal at Cine.

Just remember that Cine is the cafeteria located downstairs in the hotel!

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3 thoughts on “Is This The Best Burger in Cuba?

  1. Food Traveller- Why is it a mistake to order pizza & burgers in foreign countries? We ate primarily at private restaurants. Like I mentioned above, the food was nothing special. Have you been to Cuba?

    Bill- So how was the burger 15 years back??? I was hoping to get to Chinatown but we didn’t have enough time.

  2. Ha! I had that EXACT same burger 15 years ago at Cine. The menu looks exactly the same. For cheap decent food, try their Chinatown neighborhood.

  3. Your first mistake was going to a foreign country and ordering burgers and pizza. Another thing to consider is were you eating at government run restaurants or private ones. Most of the best food is to be found at the private ventures. Live a little and eat like the locals, where the locals eat, and you will be surprised at how good food is most everywhere.

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