Calle Ocho runs through the heart of Little Havana and is home to generation-run Cuban establishments that feature classic recipes, lively music, and an ambiance that will take you back to 1950s Cuba. Installed by Cuban transplant recipients who thought they were would soon be returning home, Little Havana was a community of hope and family ties. Over time, it became evident that these exiled families would never return to their beloved homeland. So they turned to preserving Cuban music, food and culture in their new home.
Across the Miami area, you’ll find authentic Cuban cuisine, up-to-date classics, and inspired interpretations. Finding delicious Cuban food is easy, as Cuban restaurants can be found in many areas of Miami. From window service to elegant dining, you’ll be delighted with the options available.
Keep in mind that the more rustic establishments will have a rooster or two running around in the outdoor spaces. They keep their distance and are very entertaining!
Some of the information in this article was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are mine.
1. Old’s Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina
It’s easy to search for the best Cuban food in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Everything is authentic and delicious. Old’s Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina serves a classic cubano made with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese and pickles on hot, pressed Cuban bread. The lush tropical setting, perfectly prepared dining options, and 1950s Cuban decor set the stage for an immersive dining experience.
Pro tip: This is the perfect place to order a classic mojito, served with lightly candied mint and a slice of sugar cane.
2. Havana 1957
The five Miami-area Havana 1957 the restaurants have slightly different atmospheres, but the same fabulous national inspired cuisine. The Lincoln Road location offers alfresco dining amid an electric shopping district. During the day, Lincoln Road is buzzing with shoppers looking for branded goods. At night, the area is popular with locals and visitors alike looking for a cocktail, a great dining experience, and a place to strut their latest fashion acquisitions.
Order the house’s signature dish, Pollo Havana 1957: perfectly roasted chicken topped with Cuban sauce and served with white rice, black beans, roasted potatoes and sweet plantains. It is a hearty dish that is simply divine.
Pro tip: Head to Lincoln Road Havana 1957 early in the evening for a great alfresco meal while watching the parade of revelers for an evening stroll.
Take out the Cuban-inspired cuisine of Little Havana and drop it off in downtown Brickell in Miami, MarabÃº offers traditional dishes in a contemporary setting. Order a selection of small plates to share. Options like octopus escabeche, corn tamales, charcoal roasted plantains, and tuna toston bring island flavors to the heart of downtown Miami.
Pro tip: Request a seat on the patio and let the tropical decor whisk you away in the elegance of old Cuba.
4. CafÃ© La Trova
The dynamic Michelle Bernstein and Julio Cabrera have teamed up to offer contemporary Cuban-style cuisine in a retro setting. Cafe La Trova serves a number of delectable tapas offerings, including tuna carpaccio, seafood ceviche, vaca frita sliders, and queso frito. Stop for happy hour and stay for dinner.
Pro tip: Sipping a specialty cocktail is a must at CafÃ© La Trova. Try the Hotel Nacional, consisting of Plantation pineapple rum, apricot liqueur, pineapple juice and lime juice. It will transport you to a tropical sugarcane plantation on a scorching, lazy afternoon.
5. El Rey De Las Fritas
Inexpensive crispy fries adorn the tops of Little Havana’s Cuban sandwiches. But no one serves better frita cubana than El Rey de las Fritas. A giant and succulent burger swimming in gravy, topped with crispy fries and sandwiched in a chewy roll is the epitome of delight.
Pro tip: El Rey de Las Fritas has several locations in the Miami area. While you eat on Calle Ocho, stop in Little Havana and share a Cubana frita with your travel companion.
6. Cuban restaurant and bar Sala’o
Cuban restaurant and bar Sala’o pays homage to Ernest Hemingway with his fantastic seafood options, a nod to the writer The old Man and the Sea.
Starting with a classic libation is a must to honor Hemingway. And the meal selections will have you thinking: Start with the cubano ceviche made with corvina, red peppers, onions, and coconut leche de tigre. Follow up with the squid arroz negro, a rice soup with squid and squid ink. the enchilado de langosta CaribeÃ±a is a lobster tail prepared in butter with paprika, lobster reduction and sofrito. the vieiras selladas are scallops with corn, bacon and a mango chutney sauce. Notable sides include tostones, or fried green plantains, and madurosor fried sweet plantains.
7. Los PinareÃ±os Fruteria
Los PinareÃ±os Fruteria is one of the last open-air markets. A real step back in time, the fruit market offers a fresh selection of tropical delicacies. Ask for a coconut and split the top to drink your fresh coconut water from the spring. A glass of fresh guarapo juice – a refreshing juice made from sugar cane – will delight your sweet tooth.
Pro tip: Fresh coconut juice is great for fighting hangovers.
Azucar serves ice cream flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. Classic flavors join Cuban-inspired stars like dulce de leche, cafÃ© con leche, guarapina, mango and more.
Whether you make this your first or last stop, you must stop in Azucar. You can’t visit Little Havana without stopping for a small cup of sweet ice cream.
Who can resist the satisfying crunch of fresh churros dusted with cinnamon sugar? It is impossible not to go back for a few seconds to Churromania. These delectable treats can be found all over the Miami area, but if you’re in Little Havana, grab your favorites and enjoy them as you explore the back alleys laden with artwork, photos, and newspaper articles tracing the history of the region.
Pro tip: Try out several types of churros and share them with your friends. This way you don’t have to commit to just one.
10. Versailles Restaurant
the Versailles Restaurant offers a full menu of Cuban classics. Be sure to check out the daily specials to see how the chef showcases Miami’s seasonal bounty. Cuban samplers are a great place to start if you can’t decide what to order.
Pro tip: Order the Guava Cream Cheese Pie to share for a tasty end to your dinner.
11. La Ventanita
La Ventanita is the showcase of the take-out coffee of the Versailles restaurant. If you are exploring with friends, order a colada – a super sweet coffee staple made for sharing. When you drink coffee with your friends and family, you share a bond of kinship and joy.
Pro tip: You might meet the peanut vendor while you wait for your coffee. A small pouch of peanuts fits perfectly into your backpack and is a great snack when you need a little pick-me-up.
Sanguich is all about Grandma’s family recipes, and the staff serve a delicious classic Cubano. Other amazing options include the pan con lechon – a Cuban bread sandwich, filled with grated pork and pickled mojo onions, and dressed in a garlic and cilantro aioli – and Elena Ruthless, with turkey, bacon, cream cheese and marmalade guava on sweet Cuban bread
Pro tip: Order the colada and share it with your friends. It’s the perfect sweet end to a good meal.
The Cuban food scene is exploding in Miami, with new venues offering upscale cuisine inspired by classics. For a more traditional sample of Cuban delicacies, head to Little Havana. Miami Culinary Tours offers a Little Havana Food and Culture Tour which will introduce you to the emblematic history of the district and its delicious treats.
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