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Does Cuba Have McDonald’s? (Answer Explained)

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As the largest fast-food chain worldwide, you might think that there would be McDonald’s restaurants in every country! However, this isn’t always the case.

If you’re curious about whether Cuba has McDonald’s, read on.

Photo: JJBers / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cuba has one McDonald’s, which is located on the United States-owned naval base Guantanamo Bay and is not open to native Cubans. Guantanamo Bay also houses other American fast-food restaurants, including Subway, Taco Bell, and KFC. In general, Cuba does not have any US-based restaurants due to the poor relations between the two countries.

In this article, you’ll learn more about why Cuba only has one McDonald’s restaurant. 

We’ll also talk about whether Cuba has various American fast-food restaurants and discuss popular cuisine on the island.

Finally, we’ll cover several other countries that have banned McDonald’s outright.

How Many McDonald’s Restaurants Does Cuba Have?

Cuba only has one McDonald’s restaurant, which might sound surprising. 

The relationship between the United States and Cuba is extremely rocky. As a result, there are strict rules against American-based companies opening in Cuba, as well as Cuban companies opening in the US.

The only McDonald’s in Cuba is located on the American-owned naval base Guantanamo Bay. Guantanamo Bay, sometimes called “Gitmo,” is located in the southeast portion of Cuba and takes up 45 square miles of land.

You won’t see Cubans enjoying Big Macs at the McDonald’s in Guantanamo Bay, however. The Department of the United States Navy owns the restaurant, and Cubans don’t have access to it.

There are several other fast-food restaurants located in Guantanamo Bay as well. These include Taco Bell, KFC, and Subway.

Why Doesn’t Cuba Have McDonald’s?

Cuba only has a single McDonald’s (which is inaccessible to Cubans) because of the poor relationship between itself and the US.

In 1959, former Cuban President Fidel Castro overthrew a United States-backed military dictatorship in Havana. He then established a socialist state in Cuba.

Over the next 50 years, the United States administration attempted to isolate Cuba both diplomatically and economically with various sanctions and embargoes.

The US continued to pressure Cuba to transition to a democratic government as the years went on. 

Then, former United States President Barack Obama eased restrictions and softened policy against Cuba. 

In 2014, Obama and former Cuban president Raul Castro announced a restored diplomatic relationship between the two countries. However, former President Donald Trump reversed many of the changes made by Obama.

Since President Joe Biden has taken office, he has placed sanctions on some Cuban officials. In May of 2022, he announced various measures to ease restrictions. 

Due to these long-lasting foreign policy challenges, Cuba does not permit United States-based businesses and vice versa.

That’s why the only American fast-food restaurants, such as McDonald’s, are located on the American-owned naval base of Guantanamo Bay.

Does Havana Have McDonald’s?

No, Havana does not have McDonald’s. Some of the restaurants you can find in Havana, Cuba include:

  • Bodeguita del Medio
  • Café Tabern
  • Bar Cabaña
  • Baturro
  • Cantabria

Do They Have Fast Food In Cuba?

Yes, Cuba does have fast-food restaurants. It just doesn’t have American fast-food restaurants like Burger King and Wendy’s. 

For instance, many travel sites reference El Rápido, a fast-food chain run by the government. Its menu features burgers and fries, and in many cases, you can even purchase a beer to go with your meal.

Does Cuba Have Starbucks?

Cuba does not have Starbucks. As a result of poor diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, American-based restaurants cannot open there.

However, in 2010, the Pentagon spent nearly $700,000 to remodel a cafe in Guantanamo Bay that now sells ice cream and Starbucks coffee.

It’s not a Starbucks per se, but it does sell Starbucks products.

Does Cuba Have Burger King?

No, Cuba does not have Burger King. In general, it does not have American fast-food restaurants.

It’s possible this could change in the future if the relationship between Cuba and the United States improves.

Does Cuba Have KFC?

Cuba has one KFC restaurant, which is located on the United States-owned naval base of Guantanamo Bay.

This restaurant is actually a combination KFC/Taco Bell, and it’s located in a remodeled cinder block building.

What Is A Popular Food In Cuba?

In general, the Cuban diet is very high-calorie and contains quite a bit of fat and sugar.

Traditional Cuban meals typically feature some form of meat, most commonly pork. Some of the pork dishes frequently eaten by Cubans include fried pork chunks, roasted pork, and pork sandwiches.

Chorizo, a type of spicy pork sausage, and the Cubano sandwich are also popular choices.

Beef is also a favorite used for thin-sliced sirloins, shredded beef, and spicy beef hash.

Chicken can be found in the classic “arroz con pollo,” or chicken and rice, as well as chicken soup and pan-fried boneless chicken breasts.

Black beans and rice is a side dish that’s crucial to Cuban cuisine. 

Fruits and vegetables aren’t eaten as frequently as other food groups, and as a result, less than one-fifth of Cubans consume the recommended amount.

Cuban coffee, commonly called “cafecito” or “café cubano,” is a shot-sized coffee cup filled with espresso.

Common desserts include custards, cakes, and pastries.

Countries That Don’t Have McDonald’s

The following countries have gone so far as to ban McDonald’s entirely:

  • Iran
  • Bermuda
  • Yemen
  • Macedonia
  • Bolivia
  • Iceland
  • Zimbabwe
  • Montenegro
  • North Korea

In 2022, due to the Russia-Ukraine war, McDonald’s has also left the Russian market after doing business there since 1990. All of its stores in that country have later reopened under a completely new identity.

Conclusion

Technically, Cuba does have McDonald’s, but its only location is in Guantanamo Bay, which is an American naval base.

There are several other American fast-food restaurants located in Gitmo as well. These include KFC, Subway, and Taco Bell.

The countries of the United States and Cuba have had a poor diplomatic relationship for several decades.

As a result of sanctions and embargoes, it’s extremely rare to see a US-based company in Cuba or a Cuban company in the United States.

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