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Where to Find the Best Cuban Food in Miami

SmarterTravel

In a city where nearly 70 percent of the population is Hispanic, Miami has rightfully earned the nickname “Capital of Latin America.” But while multicultural restaurants abound here, including everything from empanada stands to ceviche shops, no other cuisine seems to be as synonymous with the city’s identity as Cuban food in Miami. When Cuban refugees fled to Florida for freedom, they brought one important piece of culture: Cuban cuisine. Cuban restaurants have sprouted up everywhere from Little Havana to Miami Beach, with options ranging from fast food joints to fine dining, fusion-style establishments.

Where to Find the Best Cuban Food in Miami

For a taste of authentic Cuban cuisine, pop into one of these 10 stand-out Cuban restaurants in Miami.

Versailles

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Versailles touts itself as “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant” and has spent more than four decades delivering some of the best Cuban food in Miami. The Little Havana-based eatery has expanded to outposts at the airport, but the flagship locale was once the unofficial town square for Cuban exiles—and served the same role after Fidel Castro passed away. Today the restaurant draws politicians, families, and travelers to its tables thanks to its reliably good, reasonably priced Cuban cuisine. For the full experience, order a sampler platter piled with classics like sweet plantains, ham croquettes, black beans, and roast pork.

Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop

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The classic Cuban sandwich, two pieces of crispy white bread stuffed with ham and cheese, started as a lunchtime staple at cafes in Key West and Ybor City, Tampa, catering to Cuban cigar factory workers. Now you’ll find this sandwich at nearly every Cuban restaurant in Miami. Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop is by far one of the top picks for locals, who queue up come lunchtime at the window for cheap and fresh sandwiches, as well as one of Miami’s best cortaditos, an espresso shot topped with steamed milk.

El Palacio de los Jugos

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Though the name translates to “The Juice Palace,” El Palacio de los Jugos is more like a Latin American market than a juice bar. What started as a casual takeaway spot on Flagler Street in the 1970s has expanded into an empire of open-air restaurants with nine locales around town, each keeping alive the original concept of market-fresh produce served casually from stands and stalls. Here, you’ll find an array of fresh juices from melon to mango, plus no-frills Cuban cuisine like pollo con papas (chicken and potatoes), croquetas, and yuca frita (fried yucca).

El Rey de las Fritas

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Many of the Cuban restaurants in Miami boast a claim to fame, and at El Rey de las Fritas, it’s the original Cuban burger. Husband and wife duo Victoriano “Benito” and Angelina “Gallega” Gonzalez invented the original frita Cubana when they moved to Miami from Cuba in the 1970s. Now second-generation family members help run the business that has expanded from Little Havana to three other locales around town. Swing by the original diner-style space to sample the main attraction: burgers piled high with shoestring fries bulging between the buns of a fluffy white Cuban roll.

Sergio’s

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The mother and daughter behind Sergio’s have spent the last 40 years perfecting their croquetas, which are so legendary they’ve drawn chefs like Emeril Lagasse for a taste. Homestyle cuisine here spans all the classics from vaca frita (flat-iron grilled shredded beef and cooked onions) to masas de puerco (fried pork chunks with homemade mojo sauce). There’s also a modern menu with low-calorie ropa vieja, palomilla steak, and mahi mahi—plus a trendy selection of sides like spiralized vegetable noodles and cauliflower rice. You can’t leave without sipping a cafecito, so do it in true Cuban fashion at the window.

David’s Cafe Cafecito

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David’s Cafe Cafecito has been a fixture in South Beach for the past 40 years, serving up some of the best Cuban food in Miami. While the original locale shuttered its doors a few years ago, the Gonzalez family still runs a cafecito concept on Alton Road that pays homage to their Cuban background through one of the country’s most-loved daily traditions: coffee. Colorful Cuban tiles line the intimate space scattered with just a few tables that are typically filled. This is the go-to spot for classic Cuban breakfast. Post up at the bar and order Cuban toast served alongside a strong and sweet cafe Cubano, or cafecito.

Havana Harry’s

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Havana Harry’s is a neighborhood fave in Coral Gables, where families gather over spruced-up Cuban classics like tostones guayaberos, twice-fried plantain slices topped with shredded pork and grilled onions, drizzled with a guava barbecue sauce. The atmosphere is loud in true Latin style and portions are generous (read: XXL), so come with an appetite and leave room for the real star of the show: dessert. You may be familiar with tres leches, a sponge cake soaked with a melange of three types of milk, but Havana Harry’s adds in a few more ingredients for a version aptly dubbed cinco leches, a pastry filled with dulce de leche that’s covered with homemade meringue.

Finka Table & Tap

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Don’t let its shopping center location in West Kendall throw you off. Finka Table & Tap has rightfully earned its high-ranking position among Miami’s top gastropubs for its blend of Korean, Cuban, and Peruvian cuisine paired with Florida microbrews on tap. Chef and owner Eileen Andrade got her culinary start alongside her grandparents at one of the more famous Cuban restaurants in Miami, Islas Carnitas, later traveling and cooking throughout Korea. Flavors pull from some of Florida’s finest ingredients (think fried alligator) and throw in Asian flair with sides like fried wontons and spicy kimchee fried rice. If you’re waiting to see where the Cuban influence comes in, one bite of the vaca frita-topped tostones will definitely do the trick.

Azucar Ice Cream Company

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Sitting along the famous Calle Ocho strip in Little Havana, Azucar Ice Cream Company is more famous in Miami than chains like Haagen-Dazs. Azucar plays on the style of confections your abuela would make, with fruit bought from local fruit stands and farmers’ markets. You won’t be able to miss the ice cream shop, topped with a glowing neon sign and larger-than-life cone extending from the facade. Inside, more than 70 all-natural ice cream and sorbet flavors are hand-written on a chalkboard sign, with options ranging from classic Cuban vanilla mantecado cookies to cuatro leches and Coca-Cola.

Ball & Chain

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Just next door to Azucar Ice Cream Company lies one-time saloon Ball & Chain, which got its start during the Depression. In the 1950s, Billie Holiday and Chet Baker were among the circuit of talented musicians who performed at the club, which was converted into a furniture shop a decade later. Now Ball & Chain has embraced its Cuban surroundings and is one of Little Havana’s most vibrant lounges, with live salsa and jazz bands playing in the open-air bar and dining area. While it serves as a neighborhood nightlife institution, Ball & Chain doubles as a great Cuban restaurant in Miami with tapas-style dishes like housemade mariquitas de maduro (sweet plantain chips) and chicharrones (fried pork belly).

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—Original reporting by Lane Nieset

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