In the Cuban capital of Havana, roadside stands sell fast, delicious, and exceptionally cheap Caribbean staples, ideal for a quick snack. I recently spent four months there, so I tried almost all the offerings and found the best ones. Prices are in moneda nacional, a currency doled out by the government, which Cubans can use to buy basics (like fruits and vegetables or hygiene products) and street snacks like these. The other currency, the convertible peso, is how you pay everywhere else.
1. Pork Burgers (Hamburguesa de Cerdo)
What it is: A ground pork patty, griddled to medium-rare and laid on lettuce, tomato and pan suave, a soft roll.
Price: 30 moneda nacional.
That means: $1.20.
Eat it like a local: Topped with a pineapple ring or cream cheese and strawberry marmalade. Wash it down with watermelon juice.
2. Coconut Pie (“Pie” de Coco)
What it is: Ultra-sweet shredded coconut baked into pie crust.
Price: 3 moneda nacional.
That means: $0.15.
Eat it like a local: From the bicycling-vendor after a shot of 50-50 coffee (50% coffee, 50% sugar).
3. Guava Milkshake (Batidos de Guayaba)
What it is: Peeled fresh guava blended with milk and sugar.
Price: 3 moneda nacional
What that means: $0.15
Eat it like a local: Finish it in less than two minutes, or before it gets hot and melty.
4. Goat Platter (Fricasse de Carnero)
What it is: Tender chunks of stewed goat served on arroz morro, white rice and black beans, and alongside yucca and a simple salad
Price: 40 moneda nacional.
What that means: $1.50.
Eat it like a local: With pickle slices. Take it to go in a cardboard box.
5. Individual Hawaiian Pizzas (Pizza Hawaiana)
What it is: Thick disks of dough glossed with tomato paste and topped with shredded cheese (a blend that tastes like a mix of mozzarella and sharp cheddar), ham and fresh pineapple, baked in an oven on the street.
Price: 18 moneda nacional.
What that means: $0.80.
Eat it like a local: Folded in a piece of paper (un papelito). It looks like a pizza, but you eat it like a taco.
These items are all widely available at many street carts, the majority of which are unnamed. But brick-and-mortar “cafeterias” also offer many of these items — Cafeteria Doña Laura is a local favorite and where I had the lamb platter. The burger was from another called Cafeteria 5a y A.