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Groceries2018-01-10T17:21:40+00:00

Best Cuba Guide Forums General Groceries

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  • Zach
    Post count: 0

    Where is the best place to get provisions such as coffee, eggs, bread, milk, fruit, vegetables, bottled water, etc…??

    Mario
    Keymaster
    Post count: 212

    Hi Zach. This is a great question and one that I receive a lot. I did a write-up to discuss this exact topic. You can find the complete article here: http://bestcubaguide.com/some-frequently-asked-questions-about-visiting-havana-and-cuba/

    And below I will copy the info and add a bit extra for you. Basically, doing your grocieris in Havana and Cuba in general will be cheap, but very time consuming and possible frustrating. I have a lot of experience living in Havana and even I sometimes go for a week without eggs because there are just none to be found in any stores. Sometimes you get lucky and have eggs all month. Other times there are none or you have to pay an inflated black market rate for them. Crazy, but that’s Cuba.

    Even in Havana, household supplies are not that easy to find. There are some supermarkets where you can get some things, but they mostly sell packaged good. I would suggest that you bring you own dish soap, as the Cuban one is usually sold as a powder, and not a liquid. You might not find it very good.

    Supermarkets will not sell paper towels.
     
    Toilet paper is available sometimes. Maybe one day yes and one day no. You might have to go shopping to a few stores before you find it. There will be some at the casa particular when you arrive, but likely only 1 roll.
     
    There will be a new bar of soap in the casa particular too. But I suggest you simply bring a couple of extra bars of soap with you from the USA, so you don’t have to waste time searching for soap in Havana.
     
    The supermarkets will have coffee, but it will be expensive. But it will be good Cuban coffee. Most Cubans will buy cheaper coffee at small local markets or as part of their rations at the Bodega. While you cannot go to the Bodegas (only Cubans can shop at the Bodega), you would find cheap coffee at local markets. But I will say honestly, even locals rarely buy and make their own coffee at home. It is cheaper to simply go to a local paladar cafe (street vendor) and buy it for about 1 to 2 pesos for an espresso (less than 10cents USD.)
     
    There is a popular supermarket under the Focsa building, near the corner of L and 17th street. It has a lot of stuff that you can find in regular American style supermarkets.
     
    The supermarket will have butter, usually. And cheese. And an assortment of packaged goods. There are not many good supermarkets in Havana. The ones in the touristy areas are better than ones in the distant parts of the city.
     
    Milk – The supermarkets will only have dry milk powder and it is expensive. In Cuba there are no stores which sell liquid milk. At the Bodega, locals can get cheaper dried milk, but as a foreigner this option is not open to you.
     
    Fruit, you can only get at an outdoor market (a large one at the corner of 17th and B) or maybe from a street vendor who sells it off a cart.
     
    Bread – You can buy it a Panaderia bakery. You might have to ask your casa landlord for the exact location of the closest bakery to your casa. You can buy small breads for 1 peso each (5 cents USD) But if you go at supper time, they might not sell it to you, as they have to reserve enough for local Cubans. But usually there is no problem. Bring your own bag to carry the bread. You can sometimes also get bread at the supermarket, but it will cost about 5 times as much, and will be less fresh. There are hundreds of panaderias all over Havana.
     
    Eggs – The egg situation is complex. You can sometimes buy the eggs at small Venta Libre stores located beside the Bodegas. You can buy as many as you want. Usually they cost about 1.1 pesos each (5 cents USD). But these stores only have eggs sometimes. Maybe 2 times per week, max. And there is a good chance that locals will buy all the eggs before you arrive. Your chance of buying fresh eggs will not be high, and will depend a lot on luck and determination. Again, I would suggest that you simply buy omelettes (tortillas) from local street food vendors. An omelette sandwich will cost about 5 to 6 pesos, which is only marginally more expensive than buying the bread and the egg yourself.
     
    There are no “one stop shops” on Cuba. Fresh food is from the markets, bread is from the panadarias, eggs are are Vente Libre/Bodega type stores. Ground coffee you can sometimes get cheaply on street corners (it’s bad coffee, but cheap). Bottled water you can get at the supermarkets and at little convenience stores. You will see these places all over Havana.
     
    Generally speaking, you won’t have trouble finding stores to get these kinds of things. A bit of walking and you will see the stores. But you might have to hit 5 or 6 places before you get everything you want. I know that when I am looking for chicken, I have a couple of stores near my Havana house that sell it. And some days I can get it all, no problem. Other days, there is just none, anywhere… so no chicken those days.
     
    I hope this helps.
    Have fun in Cuba.
    Mario
    • This reply was modified 2 years ago by  Mario.
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