Can’t-miss Cuban eats for your Miami culinary adventure
Highlighted by roast pork, pounded-paper-thin beefsteak, thick vegetable and seafood stews and the-gloppier-the-better bowls of dark black beans, Miami’s Cuban cuisine is hearty and a dash more tropical and less spicy than its Mexican counterpart.
But while it’s easy to find a restaurant that serves a perfectly pressed Cubano, sizzling pan con bistec, a rich moro or a velvety batido de trigo, finding the best requires a little more dedication. When it comes to Miami’s Latin culinary heritage, you have your pretenders and your contenders. After plentiful research and some great eating, we’ve zeroed in on a list of Miami’s top Cuban eateries.
This Calle Ocho landmark boasts traditional Cuban favorites “direct from your grandmother’s kitchen.” That is true, of course, if your grandmother happens to be a master of a perfectly grilled Bistec de Riñoada (New York Strip) or vaca frita (shredded beef with lime and garlic) served with malanga con mojo – boiled malanga chunks drizzled in a substantial garlic sauce. Afterwards, be sure to head right across the street for something decadent at Azucar Ice Cream Company.
Havana 1957, as in the year Cuba’s vibrant café culture was in full swing, matches Lincoln Road Mall’s bustling sidewalk scene with a spicy energy all its own. Arrive early and belly up to the sumptuous bar for a pineapple-sweetened mojito or a sampling of spiced rums from the meticulously maintained collection. After you’ve had your fill at the bar, try the hearty, slow roasted pork leg marinated in Cuban mojo or the roast chicken in Cuban gravy. Accompanied by black beans and sweet plantains, most dishes are the essence of traditional Cuban cuisine.
El Palacio de los Jugos
Start with the chicharrón, considered to be the finest fried pork rinds in Miami. Then browse the mind-boggling selections of pork specialties along with rice dishes, boiled yucca plates, fresh seafood and stacked sandwiches. You’ll also find grocery staples like torrejas (sweet toast), agua de coco (coconut juice) and fresh-made manteca de maní (peanut butter).
Las Olas Café
It might come as a bit of a surprise that a restaurant known for the best Cubano sandwiches on the beach, outgoing waitresses who welcome regulars by name and a bright, bodega-style ambiance is more of a local secret. This is exactly where you want to eat when you visit, but Las Olas Café has remained largely off the dining scene landscape, which is just fine with those in the know. Fabulous daily specials, homemade soups and sandwiches stacked onto crispy fresh-out-of-the oven Cuban bread are served at wonderfully low prices.
Old school “bangers,” the non-electronic cash registers that ring when opened, roaring blenders and gurgling, spattering coffee makers bring a blue collar charm to what many locals consider to be among the top five Cuban restaurants in Miami. In addition to some of the most tender slices of churrasco beef you’ll ever eat, you’ll find picadillo teeming with diced green olives and layers of flavorful stewed tomatoes and a generously proportioned Pollo al Ajillo (Chicken in Garlic Sauce) specialty.