Cuban restaurants in Miami are a dime a dozen. You can’t walk two feet without finding a window from which to order a cortadito or a cafeteria filled with folks eating medianoche sandwiches. The Cuban culinary influence is tucked away in grocery stores, at high-end restaurants, and everywhere in between.
One of the most well-known and authentic places to eat Cuban fare in Miami, El Palacio de Los Jugos, is more or less a fruit market that also serves buffet-style Cuban staples. Then there are the establishments that offer different interpretations of the cuisine, such as Havana Harry’s – a reader favorite.
If you’re looking to concentrate your efforts, start with the local hangout Puerto Sagua on the vibrant South Beach area–a restaurant that’s been featured in numerous film and advertisement shoots, it’s that emblematic–and then head to Calle Ocho. There you’ll find Versailles’s traditional nearly 24/7 eats, ranging from croquetas (croquettes) to picadillo, as well as handfuls of other Cuban-influenced dishes.
Located in South Beach, Havana 1957 offers traditional Cuban cuisine combined with the finesse of 1950s Havana. This uber-classy, throwback restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, along with a fine selection of wine, beer, and spirits at their full bar. Take a look at their fully bilingual menu and you’ll find fresh-squeezed juices, traditional Cuban breakfasts, staple Cuban entrees like Pollo a la plancha (grilled chicken with onions and parsley), vaca frita (grilled, shredded beef), plus the usual sandwiches like croqueta preparada (a ham, cheese, and pork sandwich topped with croquettes), and mouthwatering desserts, all of which will please your palate.
Recommended for Cuban because: With an endless selection of rums, Cuban-inspired cocktails, plus a full menu to keep your Cuban cuisine cravings at bay, it’s all about Havana 1957.
Priscilla’s expert tip: If cigars are your thing, make sure to order one at the end of your meal for the perfect round off to a Cuban feast.
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This is Cuban done South Beach-style â” that means with glitz, bright color, and ultra-chic decor. Young Cuban-Americans and trendy folks of all colors, creeds, and ages make this restaurant a mob scene on weekends. If you want to commune with the elbow-to-elbow crowds, Friday and Saturday are ideal. But if you want to dine on Cuban specialties in relative peace, come earlier in the week. The beans and rice, mixed together as congris, is flavorful and hearty, as are the roasted chicken and the Palomilla steak. As befitting a place owned by the Estefans, the prices are a bit higher than at many Cuban eateries, but the party crowd says the ambiance and hip clientele are worth every penny.
Recommended for Cuban because: Its owned by the royal family of Miami, the Estefans, and the food is worth every penny.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Make reservations, especially on weekends, or risk waiting an hour or longer for a seat in this glamorous Cuban hot spot.
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Photo courtesy of used in book.
No-frills Puerto Sagua is a long-standing institution in South Beach, where restaurants come and go with frequency. This one has continued to please the fickle masses with traditional Cuban comfort food and decor that is fuss-free, with the exception of its awesome murals of Cuba street life. Native Cubans and South Beach residents who miss the days when the Beach was home to dozens of counters and cafeterias savor authentic shrimp in garlic sauce, fried plantains and grilled Cuban sandwiches stuffed with ham, pork and cheese. Late hours also make Puerto Sagua a perfect stop-off after a show or a night of club-hopping, when a medianoche or Cuban sandwich is the perfect antidote to too many cocktails.
Recommended for Cuban because: Puerto Sagua is known for its laid back service and delicious, traditional Cuban comfort food. Its colorful murals of Cuba add to the ambiance.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Don’t come here expecting to get some laptop work done while you enjoy your Lechon. No wifi service, but that’s because they want you to relax and focus on their amazing food.
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Photo courtesy of Versailles
The decor may be French, but the name is pronounced Ver-say-ez, Spanish style. And Versailles’s cooking is Cuban all the way. Patrons swoon over deliciously authentic food and the dining room’s opulence, complete with candelabras, gilt-framed mirrors and tuxedo-clad waiters. Still, everything’s not as upscale as it sounds â” the vibe is relaxed and dishes are happily affordable. Ropa vieja, made with zesty shredded beef, is a fine introduction to the bold cuisine, and arroz con pollo may forever change your opinion of chicken and rice.
Keep in mind that the restaurant stays open until very late, until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3:30 and 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights respectively, making it the Jersey diner of Little Havana. Want to know what’s going on politically in the exilio community? Grab a cafe Cubano, a guava pastellito and have a seat, then keep both ears open.
Recommended for Cuban because: Versailles is Miami’s most well-known spot for Cuban food, offering savory and traditional meals nearly 24 hours a day. Everyone should try ’em out.
Priscilla’s expert tip: When you want to know what’s going on politically in the exilio community, as well as find yourself a traditional plate of ropa vieja or even just a shot of cafe Cubano, head to this revered Cuban palace.
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Situated all over Miami (with locations in Kendall, Little Havana, Hialeah, Doral, Miami International Airport, plus several others in Broward), this Cuban restaurant chain’s versatile cuisine and convivial atmosphere keep patrons coming back for more. A hearty breakfast can be obtained at basically any time of day or night, and while lunch and dinner are also quite good, we highly suggest their breakfast, where you can easily obtain large portions of steak, eggs, Cuban toast and hash browns, complemented by organic, freshly squeezed orange juice and of course, café Cubano. For lunch, try the Pan con Bistec and finish it off with their unbeatable creme brûlée.
Recommended for Cuban because: La Carreta is beloved by all Miamians who set foot in it. Good service, strong coffee, and tasty Cuban fare make it perfect for 10Best.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Try the specials, something new and tasty every day of the week!
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A Coral Gables favorite since 1995, Havana Harry’s is a locals’ joint, thanks to the innovative take on typical Cuban fare: tostones guayaberos is fried plantains covered with pulled pork and barbecue sauce, for instance, while chicken “tamarimango” is poultry in tangy tamarind and mango sauce. A nod to Americans who lunch – Harry’s also offers large main plate salads and plenty of less-fattening options than the usual Cuban restaurant. Still, the traditional stuff, such as black beans and fried pork, is as good here as anywhere
Thanks to those something-for-everybody sensibilities, Harry’s is often packed at lunch and there’s frequently a wait at dinner, with happy patrons enjoying tropical cocktails prior to being seated. The atmosphere, warm and friendly, has changed little over the years, and a second location in Kendall has debuted.
Recommended for Cuban because: Creative lunch specials like spicy oxtail and mojito chicken, served with two sides, plus a wide selection of desserts makes Havana Harry’s a must.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Innovative and contemporary, Havana Harry’s has been wowing Cubans and newcomers to the cuisine since 1995.
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Photo courtesy of Islas Canarias
Since 1977, Raul and Amelia Garcia, along with their two children, Nancy and Santiago, have been dishing up home-style Cuban goodness for their customers. Today, Spanish and Cuban favorites from the island, including oxtail in wine sauce and tamal en cazuela, are offered in a casual ambiance at this family-friendly eatery. Always packed with local devotees and travelers seeking an authentic Latin dining experience, this is a great choice for a crowd or if you are eating late in the evening. The food is comforting, with large portions and a variety that includes moist and tender top sirloin, spiced generously and served with their addictive papas fritas, or french fries.
A second restaurant, Islas Canarias Cafe Restaurant and Bakery on SW 137th Avenue, takes these Cuban roots and updates them for a community that longs for green salads, modern grilled dishes, pasta, an extensive wine list and plenty of sweets.
Recommended for Cuban because: Islas Canarias is unpretentious, family-friendly and full of comfort foods which is usually what you’re looking for when in search of Cuban fare.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Make sure to visit all their locations as the menus vary (always good food, just different dishes at each place).
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El Exquisito began as a small cafeteria with a capacity for 16 patrons. Nowadays, the 30+ year Little Havana staple can seat and feed well over 70 guests at a time. Voted “Best Cuban Food In Miami”, “Best Pork Chunks In Miami”, and “Best Tamales In Miami” in various publications, El Exquisito’s reputation for dishing out phenomenal dishes like Ropa Vieja, Pan con Lechon, Picadillo, Arroz con Pollo Imperial, and more precedes it. If breakfast is more your thing, take advantage of El Exquisito’s insane deals, like two eggs any style with croquettes or ham, plus toast and coffee for just $3.75.
Recommended for Cuban because: Located in the heart of Little Havana, this long-beloved staple features incredibly inexpensive Cuban food at the highest quality. Lechón never tasted so good.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Once you finish, walk off some of that arroz con pollo over at the Cuban Walk of Fame just steps away.
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Photo courtesy of El Palacio de los Jugos
Since opening in 1977, El Palacio De Los Jugos has embodied Latin American Miami in its most authentic form. It’s not fancy, doesn’t have a dress code, and everyone is welcome–so long as they enjoy delicious food and won’t ask for a copy of their “nutrition facts”.
The name of this popular eatery translates to “the juice palace” as it serves freshly made, exotic juices in mass volumes. El Palacio also cooks down-home Latin fare; generous, juicy pork sandwiches and classic Cuban rice and bean variations fill the outdoor air with enticing aromas. After ordering, purchase tropical produce or sip cooling coconut water, chopped on-site by a man with his machete.
Recommended for Cuban because: El Palacio will always be our local secret for inexpensive but top-notch Cuban cuisine. They have several locations, all of which are consistently amazing.
Priscilla’s expert tip: If you’re unsure of where to begin at this place, relax. Start by ordering one of their fresh-squeezed juices and the rest will make sense once you start a-sippin.
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Photo courtesy of Brustman Carrino PR
Miami has more classic Cuban dining establishments than you can shake a stick at, but what we also have is an array of modern takes on our old favorites. Chug’s, opened just earlier in 2019, is one of those places. This Cuban diner has plenty of comfort food platters to keep the locals coming back, with plenty of twists to bring in curious tourists. Run by Chef Michael Beltran, this Grove spot features the quintessential Abuela’s breakfastï¿½”named as such and composed of rice and beans plus fried eggs and madurosï¿½”plus delectable delights like the medianoche (made with duck) and a wide array of pastelitos. It’s basically got everything you need out of a Cuban dining establishment but turned up to 11.
Recommended for Cuban because: Chug’s raises the bar for Miami’s diners with Cuban fare that takes into account the adventurous tastes of Miami’s younger foodies without upsetting abuelita.
Priscilla’s expert tip: Chug’s is a Cuban eatery brought into the 21st century. That is, they have all the favorites you grew up with, with the added bonus of craft beer and regular events like domino competitions and pastelito eating contests to keep the millennial crowd coming back. Stay on top of their events by following their social pages.
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