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Best Cuban Food in Miami?

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I spent three weeks in Cuba last summer. Beautiful country and wonderful people, but the food was less than great.......

Am going to Miami for a conference in a couple of weeks, and have been told that the BEST Cuban food can be found there. Will only be able to sneak out for one lunch or dinner, and am looking for the "best" Cuban food. Price is not a real issue, but "fancy" is not a goal in itself..........

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  1. Where are you staying? If you're staying downtown, just take a short cab ride to Versailles in Little Havana.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Carolina

      It definitely depends where you're staying. Versailles is close to downtown. If you're near the airport, I'd recommend Las Culebrinas.

      1. re: lax2mia

        Las Culebrinas, two thumbs up!

        1. re: lax2mia

          I just ate at Versailles yesterday for lunch. I am visiting the area but I was impressed at the number of local people dining there. My family and I enjoyed the food there very much.

          1. re: lax2mia

            I recently ate at the original location of Las Culebrinas (just north of Coral Gables) and it was a very impressive meal. Vaca Frita over roasted plantains. My Cuban sister-in-law guesses that the plantains were steamed in their skins for a long time, then poached in wine, and then sauteed in butter. She says it's a long process, but let me tell you it was worth it!

            For dirt cheap meals in a diner environment, I've also eaten well at La Careta on Bird Rd. and L'Esquina de Tejas near the Orange Bowl. But those are not recent recommendations.

          2. re: Carolina

            Versailles is not what it used to be. Love Rio Cristal on Bird Road

            1. re: Sloppy eater

              Rio Cristal also has that gorgeous strip mall atmosphere we all adore.

          3. My wife and I also visited Versailles on calle ocho a couple of weeks ago. The food was very good - lots of tasty pork cooked in a variety of ways! As a previous poster mentioned, we too were impressed by the significant patronage of locals speaking Spanish, giving it a definite Cuban ambiance. We'll be back when we visit Miami again.

            1. I had lunch at Versailles Wednesday. Absolutely the best soups (esp. black bean soup) you've ever had. I had the pork and Michael had the boleche. The plaintains that come with it melt in the mouth and of course the flan is tip top! I loved it.

              1. I was born in Cuba and I like to post my opinion regarding the comment of the food in Cuba not being very good. Unless one takes our own spices and other ingredients the food will not be good at all. It's a communist country they don’t have enough food to eat much less make it taste good. I spend two weeks in Oriente, and all my family had allot of was Juca with garlic one of my favorite so I did not mind.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ana

                  That is so true glad u pointed that out

                2. I'm reviving this thread because it's a highly contentious one and it deserves to be brought up for revision. Plus, I still don't know the answer to the question

                  The best Cuban food in Miami? I really like the Cuban food at El Nuevo Siglo supermarket on Calle Ocho. Great prices, great food.

                  1. We'll be having about 10-15 meals on vacation, and I would like to fill a bulk of them with Cuban food, so I'd love to hear more... please provide general pricing per entree as well. Thanks!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: boltnut55

                      Boltnut -

                      In addition to this post, there's some good discussion of Cuban restaurants here ->
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/420646
                      (it's sort of buried in the middle of the post, so scroll down some).

                      Maybe you'll prove me wrong, but I suspect unless you REALLY love Cuban food that after a couple meals you'll be looking for some more variety. If you want local ethnic fare, I'd encourage you to diversify - there's Argentinian, Peruvian, Haitian Creole, Jamaican / West Indian ...

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        Just found this thread again. Thanks for the link. Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking... I'm thinking that the spices may get to me after a while too. Your other ethnic rec. are great... the funny thing is that I'm going to Jamaica first and then stopping at Miami before flying home.

                      2. re: boltnut55

                        The Cuban food at the following places are cheap and good - even cheaper than Versailles!

                        El Nuevo Siglo supermarket on Calle Ocho
                        Oasis in Hialeah near Miami Lakes and Gratigney

                        For a bit on the higher scale, dine in, Mojitos inside western Miami's Dolphin Mall is good.

                        And for bakeries where you can stock yourself with small Cuban goodies that are perfect for road trips: (we need a thread on Cuban bakeries since I'm not sure which are the best in town)

                        Ricky's Bakery on Coral Way near Coral Gables

                        or if it's closed at the time, then...

                        Versailles - there's a bakery next door to the restaurant.

                        -----
                        Oasis Tours Enterprises
                        6500 W 4th Ave, Hialeah, FL

                        Lowe Art Museum
                        1301 Stanford Dr, Coral Gables, FL

                        Mojitos Catering
                        7459 NW 113 Path, Miami, FL

                        Versailles Hotel Condominium
                        3425 Collins Ave, Miami, FL

                      3. I like Little Havana on Biscayne Blvd and 127 Street. The lechon asado is fantastic, as are the black beans.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: keysrat

                          I tried Puerto Sagua in South Beach over the weekend. Definitley the spot to hit if your looking for a decent meal at a decent price. All locals and open til 2:00am!

                        2. Trying to compile a current Cuban list, thanks for the help and current opinions on these and others you can suggest:
                          Never liked David Cafe--so I didn't add it---but would like to hear what others think...think there's going to be a new one, correct?

                          -Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine--any opinions? several locations
                          http://www.lasvegascubancuisine.com/l...

                          -Versailles link from menu pages--in Little Havana--it's more nostalgic than special food wise for me...although I really do like their bakery alot...

                          http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...?
                          areaid=0&restaurantid=33290&neighborhoodid=0&cuisineid=19&home=Y

                          -Yuca link on menupages--expensive fusion cuban...haven't eaten there since many years ago, so can't vouch for current quality at all...

                          http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                          -Barrio Latino--doesn't get alot of love on this board, but I've had GREAT lunches there, and some definite misses at dinner--but for an $8 lunch special it can't be beat--and they let me substitute a beautiful huge fresh salad instead of rice, no extra charge--in the Waterways shoppes in Aventura and they also have one in Kendall Nice atmosphere, toddler friendly!, and inexpensive-mod

                          -La Carretta--never been? In Hialeah? What is it?It's owned by same owners as Versailles and Casa Juancho Inexpensive looking on menupages..what's good there --link on menu pages below..is this the right one, because there are over 6 restaurants by the same name on menupages????

                          http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                          -Havana Harry's -Coral Gables---menu link on menupages

                          http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                          -Lario's on the Beach--been for lunch several times--great chicken steak, didn't like the palomilla steak....nice to sit outside---

                          http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                          -Las Culebrinas www.culebrinas.com and link for menu on menupages below
                          Several locations...which is the best? Flagler seems to get the most votes, favorite dishes? Great value.
                          http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                          -Little Havana in North Miami on Biscayne--decent neigborhood cuban good value popular--link for menu on menupages--atmosphere kinda eh
                          http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                          -Padrino's several locations, although I've only eaten at the Hallandale one and it's always been okay---link from menupages below

                          http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                          -Puerto Sagua--a sentimental old favorite in South Beach, cheap divey place
                          link from menupages below
                          http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                          -Don't forget Pollo Tropical--fast food cuban--all over the place www.pollotropical.com

                          ANd last but not least a great link to the 3 guys from Miami site all about Cuban food, etc:this link is for their restaurant favorites..lots of interesting stuff here:

                          http://3guysfrommiami.com/dining.html

                          Am really wondering about their picks???any opinions on the following and their recc's:
                          -Ay Mama Ines on SW 40th St? CREOLE CUBAN--and lots of tapas
                          -Latin American Cafeteria--Cuban Sandwich spot--3 locations
                          -Casa Puancho SW 8th St (spanish cuban--fancy
                          )-Casa Paco SW 40th St (spanish cuban)
                          -Sergios--4 locations 2 until midnight 2 open 24hours--cheap and good
                          -El Ray de las Fritas--4 locations cuban fast food--great burger fries, batidos--
                          -Che Tito's -SW 88th st--great steak
                          -Texas de Brazil--NW 12th st
                          -Casa Romeu--Hialeah, and Miami Lakes, and Davie--Chino Latino and killer bunelo
                          -El Chalan--SW 40th Peruvian--and Chalan on the Beach--Washing/15th S. Beach
                          -Bahamas Fish Pescaderia--shrimp looks great in photos--3 locations SW 8th st, SW Bird, Hialeah
                          -Garcia's Seafood Grille Miami--ate here years ago, and remember it being good
                          -Asturias in Hialeah Inexpensive

                          ---wow, I'm really craving CUBAN food, right now!!!

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: janie

                            I like the pan con lechon and the tostones at Sergio's - I've only been to the Coral Way location.

                            Garcia's has the best fish sandwich in town.

                            I've heard great things about El Rey de las Fritas but haven't been.

                            1. re: janie

                              Texas de Brazil is not Cuban that I know of. I think its a Brazilian Rodizio steakhouse.

                              Sergio's may be better known for their pan con bistec (steak sandwich). Either way, they are best known for their sandwiches, etc rather than anything more substantial.

                              I think you mean Casa Juancho and they are more of a traditonal Spanish offering tapas, cochinillo (suckling pig), etc than Cuban. The restaurant has great ambience and live music but most people find the food to be no more than average. When I've gone I've stayed with the simple tapas (shrimp in garlic, etc.) and enjoyed the atmosphere.
                              La Carretas (all of them), like Casa Juancho, are also owned by the Vals family and are basically a dup of Versailles with a different name. The one on Bird and 87th is the most famous and reputedly serves more espressos daily than any place in the US.

                              Casa Paco is again more spanish than cuban although like with all these places there is some "bleeding over". Emilio Estefan used to eat there regularly back in the day (he may still?) and they used to be known for their Fabada Asturiana (a kind of rich/heavy bean stew with assorted piggy product :).

                              El Rey is one of Netmovers favorites and this link describes the product pretty well:
                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/13456...

                              Havana Harry's is well known for their tostones rellenos (stuffed with shrimp/beef or combo (the shrimp ones are definitely a great app)) and claims to have invented Chicken Vaca Frita (like the name implies shredded chicken crisped up in mojo style sauce with onions).

                              El Chalan and Chalan are Peruvian.

                              The original Bahamas Fish Market on calle ocho is a great place for fairly priced seafood (lets face it, even though we live basically surrounded by water decent fresh seafood aint cheap) It's in a strip mall and has been serving some of freshest fish for over 30 years now. Formica tables, paper mats, and juicy fish yum! They do a mean fried whole snapper. Great grouper filets, decent paella/arroz con mariscos (yellow rice and seafood), cod fritters and assorted other frituritas including conch, etc. It was "Garcia's" way before Garcia's.

                              That being said, Garcia's does a good job with fish sandwiches and the like plus has a great supply of stone crabbys which is always a big plus.

                              No thread on Cuban in Miami would be complete without mentioning a true 30 year plus institution on Bird and 30 something, Nena's. For real Miami Cuban politicos and assorted heavys go to Nena's. Been around for over 30 years and does good cuban style home cookin. Be warned that the decor is not great shakes but the food usually is. They are only open for breakfast and lunch during the week I think (or at least that is only when I go).

                              This is a good link to an article by Fernandez of the Herald highlighting some classic cuban restaurants:
                              http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainm...

                              Hope some of this helps.

                              1. re: eatnbmerry

                                Confirmed that TBR is Brazillian. Want to try it out and hoping it is as good or better than Grimpa but doubting it...

                                1. re: tpigeon

                                  Being a chain (and expanding rapidly)style I wonder how much it hurts or does it allow them to muscle in on meat suppliers and get better cuts (like your beloved PL does in NY)?

                                  BTW, that space on the Beach is where a lot of resty's go to die. It is huge (TBR's config is supposedly 650 wow!) and is almost better suited as a convention dining hall IMHO.

                                2. re: eatnbmerry

                                  good info, thanks...yes, the places mentioned in end of my post were from the 3 guys from Miami site, which listed their favorite restuarants mostly Cuban, and then some Spanish, and Brazillian, and Peruvian...and was curious about them in general...

                                  1. re: eatnbmerry

                                    *Sergio's may be better known for their pan con bistec (steak sandwich). Either way, they are best known for there sandwiches, etc rather than anything more substantial.*

                                    Not that there's anything wrong - or even insubstantial - about a good sandwich.

                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      Most definitely or so said the Earl! BTW, after reading some posts I really want to try Le Sandwicherie and the meatball parm at Macaluso's Market on the beach.

                                      1. re: eatnbmerry

                                        Le Sandwicherie is terrific with free double parking.

                                    2. re: eatnbmerry

                                      I actually like the tortilla de platanos (o maduros - if it comes with potatoes, i normally ask them to take it out) in Sergio's - it's really the thing that's making me go back to Sergio's. It's big enough for it to be a tapa (shared with people), cheap enough to eat often, and I haven't had better yet anywhere else in Miami.

                                      As for the rest, I still stand by my choices I've mentioned above.

                                      1. re: mialebven

                                        Everything @ Las Vegas is delicious!! Definitely worth going.

                                        1. re: mialebven

                                          TY mia,

                                          I've never had there and definitely will try next time around. Any particular location you prefer?

                                          1. re: eatnbmerry

                                            I've had them at the Coral Way location. A Cuban friend of mine said he'll only vouch for two Sergio's in all of Miami - Coral Way and Miami Lakes (now a Casavana in Miami Lakes).

                                            1. re: mialebven

                                              Interesting, the only one I've tried is the one on Bird and 90 something (I thought it was the original but who knows?) and then only the pan con bistec. TY again for rec.

                                              1. re: eatnbmerry

                                                Maybe someone in Chowhound can mention if it's the "same" or if there's slight variations in quality between the locations. I, myself, have only been to the Coral Way location, even for the while when I lived in South Miami, close by to the one on 90 something and Bird.

                                                1. re: mialebven

                                                  I've been to the one on 152 and it was subpar. On the other hand, every time I've been on Coral Way, it's been solid.

                                    3. The best Cuban hands down :

                                      Luis Galindo's Latin America Red Road and SW 8th ST (just south) Nothing special ambiancewise, but the food is hard to beat.

                                      Lario's is also top notch cubano cuisine...beach, West Flagler and South Miami.

                                      AG> says Molina's in Hialeah is A#1 and having perused the place...I beleive it very well could take the cake.

                                      Versailles, as much as I think all tourists ought to check it out, does not match up cuisinewise IMHO .

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: netmover

                                        The Flagler Lario's is the original and used to be the go to one although I haven't been there in a few years now. The one on the beach, the second one, originally was in partnership with the Estefans' and wasn't considered as good which may or may not be true today since I really don't go to SoBe to eat cubano. The one in S Miami is the newest and I have gone there the most within the last few years. It is a nice space that gets a good happy hour crowd, especially on Fridays. The food is decent although nothing really jumps out at you.

                                        My Hialeah friends have always sworn by Molina's and it is considered the power lunch place for their local pols. I have never been, but suspect that it is probably decent as well.

                                        I must admit that I'm completely ignorant of LG's Latin American but based on you and Frod rec'ing I will definitely be checking it out soon.

                                        And finally, I completely agree about Versailles. It is so-so food with a great (probably numero uno) cafecito counter.

                                        1. re: eatnbmerry

                                          Like you have said in so many words, Cuban food is hardly haute cuisine. And in reality, there is really only two types: Good and Bad! The good stuff is hard to compare and the bad stuff isn't worth comparing...

                                          LG's and Lario's are the best of the good that I have had down here, but the other good ones mentioned, are probably equally good, if you know what I'm trying to say?

                                          1. re: netmover

                                            Si Yes Si.

                                            Although I would add a disclaimer, it can be raised. Just ask Norman about his Roast Pork Havana, or Dougie's (the best Cubano chef outside anyones abuela :) myriad creations, or even Michy's croquetas. In fact, wasn't the mango gang partly/largely inspired by the ingredients and flavors available in cuban cuisine?

                                            Victor's had great following in NY, it bombed here. Why? The "refugee mentality" which you can read about in this link if you're interested:

                                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47038...

                                            Times they are a changing and hopefully the next generation of cubanos will fulfill the niche that has been largely missing in Mi-ami!

                                            1. re: eatnbmerry

                                              I'm just looking for abuela's version of Pork...not that I don't dig what Dougie has done...his pork is simply not as good! And at 2.5x the price, I'll take abuelas every time!

                                              Did you see where Nena's got the dirty dining award? The camaras were flashing and the deuche bag manager was back peddlin' like a circus clown! It was hilarious and a shame at the same time considering how many times I've savoured Nena's in the past. Not so much recently, but 5-10 years ago, I was there almost once a week.

                                              1. re: netmover

                                                Me too! Along with the best chicharones ever!!

                                                I'm sorry to hear about Nena's too. I haven't been there in few years as well, but I don't really think that will turn off the loyal following it has built up. And while I didn't see the video, and not that I condone dirty kitchens, but sometimes we make too much of so called "cleanliness".

                                                Do you think some of our favorite luncheras are spitting clean? Do you think that the 200 year plus places in Europe are? Go to Mejico and tell me how "clean" your favorite fish taco place is. What about Shanghai and Beijing! Unfortunately I've never been, but judging from Bourdain's experience(s) I don't think it would win any cleanliness awards over here even though the sabor of the food appears to be second to none (that peking duck looked soooo yum).

                                                Some of our clean,sterile places could use a little "dirt" if that is what it takes to match the flavor of the aforementioned places IMHO.

                                                1. re: eatnbmerry

                                                  I wonder if that turned off any of Nena's very loyal clientel? Probably not, it seems they know everyone who walks in the place.

                                                  There has got to be a great Cubano place serving up solid Lechon, at least every weekend...where?

                                                  I remember Calle 8 used to have a place dedicated to Pan con Lechon...seems to have gone by the wayside. Thank God El Rey de las Fritas continues to flourish!

                                                  There's nothing better than a good Pan con Lechon...here lil piggy piggy suey suey...:-@

                                                  1. re: netmover

                                                    Palacios de los Jugos serves it up everyday. But it is hit or miss as to being dried out or juicy unfortunately. The chicharones are a better bet to be good though :).

                                            2. re: netmover

                                              I'm no Cuban food expert, but the Lario's in South Miami, despite a relatively pleasant room and affordable prices, doesn't do it for me as much as Versailles, which I think brings it consistently.

                                              1. re: taiga

                                                You can flip a coin on most days but in this match you are probably right more often than not.

                                              2. re: netmover

                                                Cuban food is indeed Haute Cuisine. Havana of the 50s was brimmimg with 4 and 5 star international restaurants and hotels. Cuba today is communist (just like Russia used to be) hence "rationed" food booklet. Limited/rationed food for all.
                                                Infact everyone who was anyone in Hollywood in the 50s flew to Havana to EAT. They weren't flying for jello and TV dinners. People need to be more informed before they generalize.

                                          2. It may sound crazy to some. But when on the go, the black beans and rice at Pollo Tropical (I know I know) is usually well above average (and if not just return it).

                                            15 Replies
                                            1. re: eatnbmerry

                                              Islas Canarias belongs on this list. I had a nice ajiaco there today and all else has been solid there over the years. The new one is nicer 137th Ave, but the old one is much closer 27th ave.

                                              Versailles is Versailles...that Caretta affiliation scares me! But I love Casa Juancho, so I guess that is a moot point. I have not been to the Lario's in South Miami, but if I had to choose, I would prefer Lario's or Luis Galindo's Latin America over Versailles...Isla Canarias too for that matter...Ayestaren tambien!

                                              1. re: netmover

                                                The daugther runs the new one I think and seems to be consistently better. Used to go out there for their Paticas a la Andaluza.

                                                Both places make great tostones especiales but they are not on the menu and you gotta request them. Basically, your typical tostones except they have been pounded out to the size of a small saucer and therefore are super thin and crispy. So good you don't need to spoil them with the mojo either! A little salt and AWAY YOU GO! Its been a while now for me and thinking of them has got my own mojo going :).

                                                1. re: eatnbmerry

                                                  As stated elsewhere on this board, I am partial to Colombian Ajiaco, but I must say they do a nice Cuban one over at Islas. Kind of got that Tamal en Oja base chock filled with meats and a variety of taters including malanga, sweet potato and auyama?

                                                  1. re: netmover

                                                    Auyama is Venezuelan for calabaza, which is pumpkin in Spanish. Since you spoke a Venezuelan word in the same sentence with Tamal, I'm now thinking about hallacas! What's the name of the Cuban version of the Ajiaco?

                                                    1. re: mialebven

                                                      Ajiaco.

                                                      Funny, I thought Auyama wa the white sweet potato?

                                                      1. re: netmover

                                                        I thought the white sweet potato was boniato or malanga.... but auyama is definitely pumpkin! I'm not sure what the difference is between boniato and malanga. And I'm not even sure if there's another white sweet potato out there... *Star Trek theme playing*

                                                        1. re: mialebven

                                                          You're right! It's boniato I was thinking of....just having a gringo moment! Thanks again for the clarification. I defer the "vianda" contents of Cuban Ajiaco to...los cubanos.

                                                          1. re: netmover

                                                            So what's the best Cuban Sandwich in Miami?
                                                            I love the croqueta preparada at Havana Harry's and Sergio's. Any other stand out cuban sandwich? An Elena Ruth or Cuban that I must have? I was thinking of trying Sarussi's. Is it worth it? or should i just stick with the above and maybe the one at Bin 18? Opinions please.

                                                              1. re: karmalaw

                                                                I have been there. The chicken sandwich is delish as is the omlette sand. but the cuban is not the greatest.

                                              2. re: eatnbmerry

                                                Not at all! Pollo Tropical is the best! The food is always good and you can't beat the price anywhere! Check out their website for some killer savings.

                                                1. re: Bu214

                                                  Pollo Tropical is horrendous. The last time I went there, I left miserable that my body needed food to function. The truth is cacero Cuban cooking does not really exist in restaurants, because the food can be quite delicious and I am still surprised that no new concepts embracing more homestyle cooking has appeared. That being said, are there any new and noteworthy Cuban places around? Our lists tend to have a hole in this category. Maybe out west?

                                                  1. re: Icantread

                                                    I've enjoyed Sazon around 73rd and Collins in North Beach. Their garbanzos fritos are great, pretty good rabo also.

                                                    I don't know how Pollo Tropical got into this discussion. It may not kill you but it certainly is not the best Cuban food in Miami.

                                                    www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

                                                2. re: eatnbmerry

                                                  Pollo Tropical is disgusting. They are just out to make a buck and don't care about accurate representation of a cuisine. There Yuca frita is 70% (too high a figure) of the time soaked in grease and stale. The bean soup taste like gross Goya beans out of a can without condiments. I don't know why it is called "Pollo Tropical" the chicken is not prepared in any way, shape or form like a Cuban cook would prepare it nor is the seasoning Cuban. In fact Cubans don't broil their chicken traditionally. Cuban colonists(and later on immigrants) were "mostly" from Northern Spain (Galicia, Asturias, Catalonia, etc.) with mostly Northern cooking traditions. People didn't barbeque in Cuba prior to the Revolution. If you did it was an individual thing not a national thing.
                                                  Cubans grill more here in the States. Like I said they are about making a buck at the expense of authenticity. They don't even know Cuban cooking methods.

                                                  -----
                                                  Yuca Restaurant
                                                  501 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139

                                                  Pollo
                                                  7300 N Kendall Dr Fl 8, Miami, FL 33156

                                                3. -i really recommend the pan con bistec at mojito grill, on red rd and one block south of sunset. itssoo juicy and even comes with the little "papitas".. pik niks potato strips for the english speakers. they also have a really good cuban rap of chicken or beef with moros and maduros

                                                  -also, la rosa off lejuene and nw 7th has a great pionono- sweet plantain timbal stuffed with seasoned ground beef- which i dont really see at other places around miami.

                                                  -the mini medianoches at gilbert's bakery make for a good snack.. and if you throw them on the foreman grill you get the pressed bread/melted cheese effect that makes it sooo good at a restaurant!!

                                                  -whenever im sick and unable to get my mom or aunt to make me the real thing, i like to stock up on the chicken soup served at Blue Sky on Coral Way and 88th Ave. I also really like their arroz imperial and moros!

                                                  -la carreta on calle ocho is always a good option for late night bites on the way home from downtown/the beach

                                                  -my all time favorite croquetas (this side of the Atlantic) are at the Latin Bird Road Cafe on Bird and 67th Ave. This place used to be a Latin America but has changed hands/names a few times. however, the croquetas, and most of the staff, have never changed! important to note- i prefer a crispier exterior and the creamy ham filling. Chicken/cheese croqueta lovers have raved about Luis Galindo's.

                                                  -had my first frita in a looong time at the new Rey location by the FIU campus and they tasted just as great as i remembered! good to see that expansion doesn't always equate to loss of flavor!

                                                  -the original palacio de los jugos on red rd and flagler still serves up some pretty good/cheap dishes.. but i've avoided it lately because i got swarmed by soo many mosquitoes the last few times!! i imagine its better now in the "winter"

                                                  1. La familia went to Puerto Sagua tonight mostly for the vibe and history but found the food pretty damn good. La Charnega had a whole red snapper fried, Flaquito had the bistec de palomilla with all the fixins and I had tamal de casuela con cerdo... chunks of pork in a corn meal gravy, abuela comfort food sort of dish. Atmosphere was great and reminds one that actual neighborhoods exist despite tourist economy. I wonder how many hipster kids have wondered into this place with a Che shirt on and complained later about the lousy service? Ha!

                                                    1. Versailles - based on the really helpful recommendations of our very nearby (at our elbows, literally) and friendly fellow diners at Michael’s the night before, we decided to try old school, Little Havana fare for lunch on Saturday.

                                                      It was fun to visit the area and see the institution, but the food was pretty average (at best). We enjoyed the black beans and the (really big in spite of being “regular” size) Cuban sandwich, but the Criollo platter was disappointing – just lots of meat, fat, and rice without much discernable flavor from one component to the next. The service was kind of retro-cranky like we anticipated. No regrets, but no need to repeat this experience.

                                                      1. I am Puerto Rican, so I am obviously no Cuban food expert, but I do enjoy it and had never been happy with places in Miami until a Cuban friend introduced me to Palacio de los Jugos, the one on Flagler and 57th Av. SUPER casual and cheap, love the place! The coconut and papaya juices are great. I was also impressed with Enriquetta's Chicken Sandwich on a recent visit.... Versailles, Carreta, Puerto Sagua, Sergio's and Little Havana are all ok but I prefer to drive to Palacio....

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: yomyb

                                                          Ironically, when I made my above post, I debated mentioning Palacios. This is a quick casual lunch location in a produce market with different areas from which to choose food cafeteria style. Pork is consistently good, you can sip coco-frio (cold coconut juice in the coconut) among other juices and milkshakes, and it is a bit of an experience just going there (patience though, people can be jostly and inconsiderate). Also, for an entertaining sight, go there early Christmas eve and witness an unending parade of 18 wheelers unloading lechones and being bought up just as quickly.

                                                        2. I'm curious if anyone has tried Bella Cuba on Washington near Lincoln? It's a chain from Ireland, according to the website, but the pictures seem to show it as a classier Cuban restaurant and the reviews seem to be relatively good.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: mialebven

                                                            I haven't seen anyone mention "Havana Harry's" Cuban Restaurant on S.W. 42nd Ave. just south of Bird Road. The tops in my book. I have tried many others over my 50 years in Miami. Their "Vaca Frita" is excellent!

                                                            Walt

                                                            1. re: waltman

                                                              And they have, by far, the best flan in the universe ;) LOL

                                                            2. re: mialebven

                                                              Mia>

                                                              I like Bella Cuba. The go-to list for Cuban food on South Beach is not so hot. Puerto Sagua is pretty grungy-to-partlymicey. Las Olas is strictly a sammie spot and David's on Meridian is my only other option in a pinch. Do you have any other Cuban restos in the 33139?

                                                              AG

                                                              1. re: advisor_Girl

                                                                Latin Cafe on the Beach in the 33140...41st St is by far the best Cuban on the Beach!

                                                            3. If you're looking for perhaps one of the best Pan Con Lechones en Miami you must check out Yiya's Bakery.

                                                              Not only does Yiya accomplish the perfect balance between the mojito sauce and onions but the bread is pressed and toasty.

                                                              Check out the great article The Miami Herald just wrote about them

                                                              http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainm...

                                                              www.burgersforbrunch.com

                                                              -----
                                                              Yiyas Bakery
                                                              646 NE 79th St, Miami, FL

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: burgersforbrunch

                                                                I had a good pan con lechon from them when they had a booth set up at the Upper East Side Green Market last season, before they'd opened the bakery. I popped into the bakery a couple months ago when they'd first opened, but they didn't seem to have their act together yet. Hope they're finding their rhythm.

                                                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                                                  I tried their baked goods both before and after, and honestly I thought the pastelitos were made by two completely different bakeries.

                                                              2. Best Cuban in town has to be La Rosa. It's close to the airport. It's a bit pricier than the others and fancier (in a cheesy kinda way). But the food is great (you can even have the fish). Morros are always tasty and the maduros are consistently the sweetest.

                                                                1. Is Luis Galindo's Latin American still open?

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: racer x

                                                                    Galindo's on 57th and SW 8th Street is still open.

                                                                  2. I'm not qualified to speak to what the best Cuban food in Miami is, since I haven't eaten my way around that town, and my experience with Cuban food has been mostly limited to NYC and Puerto Rico. But for what it's worth, I was fairly impressed by the food at Versailles. (Full review, here: http://www.girleatscity.com/2011/01/v...

                                                                    In the past, I've found Cuban food to be on the bland side. The food at Versailles was not bland at all for the most part. Even pedestrian black beans and rice were remarkably delicious and complex. I couldn't identify what gave the beans their wonderful flavor, especially since I didn't detect any chunks of cooked down vegetables or meat in the mix. Hopefully it wasn't MSG.

                                                                    We ordered the "Classic" and "Criolo" Cuban sampler plates, which offer a selection of standards. The Classic comes with white rice, black beans, picadillo, roast pork, sweet plantains, ham croquette, yuca and tamale. The Criollo comes with yellow rice, black beans, shredded beef in creole sauce, fried pork chunks, ham croquette, sweet plantains and yuca. Both were a jaw-droppingly inexpensive $11.95 considering that each plate was large enough to feed a small family for a week.

                                                                    The standouts on the "Classic" plate were the tamal and the picadillo. The masa in the tamal was fragrant and sweet, with distinct granules and a fluffy, light texture that somehow managed to avoid being either waterlogged or dry. Unlike most other types of tamales, which have a filled center, Cuban tamales are made with fillings mixed into the masa. Versaille's tamal included what I think was smoked pork, which contrasted beautifully with the sweet corn. These were some of the best corn husk-wrapped masa-based tamales I've had anywhere. Picadillo was also complexly spiced, balanced and not overly salty (a common sin for this dish, in my experience). Roast pork was a bit bland by itself, but it went nicely with bites of yuca drenched in garlic sauce and bites of the potent, barely sauteed onions. The texture was commendably moist and much more tender than versions of the dish I've had elsewhere. Plantains were made with a nicely caramelized crust.

                                                                    On the "Criollo" plate, the shredded beef in Creole sauce was the star. I was worried that the beef would be rather tough like versions of ropa vieja we've had in the past. But this was even more tender and moist than the roast pork and very flavorful, thanks in part to the sweet pepper-studded Creole sauce. Fried pork chunks were a little less to our taste. They were very moderately seasoned with little more than salt, and were basically just large chunks of fatty meat -- great for filling your belly (not to mention growing your belly), but not exactly gripping from a culinary standpoint. The ham croquette that came with both plates was fair, but a little underfried.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Versailles Restaurant
                                                                    3555 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135

                                                                    Puerto Rico Restaurant
                                                                    1055 NW 27th Ave, Miami, FL 33125

                                                                    1. Good thread with many great recs--let's keep it going. Culebrinas, La Rosa, Havana Harry's all worthwhile. I like La Rosa for their Sunday lechon at lunch. Havana has the best vaca frita. I like the beef, but they also have chicken which isn't as common. Palacio de los Jugos for awesome chicharron (El Caribe, too!).

                                                                      For a chowhound looking for neighborhood eats chock-full of Cuban ambience, I'd suggest El Caribe on 7th St NW and El Rinconcito Latino on 24th (Coral Way). These are places where locals eat, large portions of well prepared food at good prices. Sometimes too crowded, but what the heck, you are in Miami.

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                                                                      Havana Harry's
                                                                      4612 S Le Jeune Rd, Coral Gables, FL 33146

                                                                      Caribe Cafe Restaurant
                                                                      3953 NW 7th St Unit 1, Miami, FL 33126

                                                                      La Rosa Restaurant
                                                                      4041 NW 7th St, Miami, FL 33126

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: justaddwater

                                                                        No one has mentioned La Esquina del Lechon in Doral! Not the place for a fancy dinner, but if you're looking for a good lunch, definitely give it a try! They have the best Lechon Asado, Congri, Plantains, churrasco, and tostones!

                                                                        I have lived in Miami all of my life and am Cuban, and I have been to Versailles, Larios, Bongos, La Carreta, Las Culebrinas, Sergio's, and sooo many other Cuban restaurants, and I find the food at La Esquina del Lechon to be hands down the BEST!!!

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Las Culebrinas
                                                                        12257 S Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33156

                                                                        1. re: justaddwater

                                                                          Just wanted to add more praise for Havana Harry's. My husband has been working on an extended project down in Miami and I joined him for a long weekend. He took me to Havana Harry's for lunch and I have to say that their vaca frita is really delicious! We also had their Cinco Leches cake. This is three layer cake filled with dulce de leche and soaked in the traditional tres leches cream. WOW! On top of this, the slice was large enough for three people.

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Havana Harry's
                                                                          4612 S Le Jeune Rd, Coral Gables, FL 33146

                                                                          1. re: cbrand

                                                                            The vaca frita followed by a cinco leches at HH is casual Miami at its very best. As big as that dessert is, I don't find it hard at all to eat the whole thing, and, of course, regret it immediately thereafter.

                                                                        2. there is a restaurant in south beach on washington avenue half a block from Lincoln road..the name is Bella Cuba,great food...very consistent

                                                                          1. Here are a few casual yet very tasty options for some great cuban food that give a good bang to the buck along with being filled with locals rather than tourists. Good food doesn't need fancy atmosphere and these places prove that...

                                                                            For one of the best Cuban style whole fried snapper, (a must try being it combines Miami seafood and cuban cooking), make a visit to Disco Fish at 1540 SW 67TH Ave
                                                                            menu - http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                                                                            IMHO, the best black beans and rice and an arroz con pollo that is totally killer are served at Villa Habana on the east end of Coral way just outside of Coral Gables (305) 446-7427
                                                                            3398 SW 22nd St(coral way) ps - call ahead to order the arroz con pollo, don't miss out on this! Their ropa vieja is quite good too;
                                                                            )http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                                                                            For the best lechon (pork) that totally satisfies your craving, visit La Esquina del Lechon only a short drive from the airport in Doral at 8601 NW 58th St The lechon asada & Masas de Puerco Frita (fried pork chunks ;) ) are heavenly.
                                                                            menu - http://www.esqlechon.com/images/MainM...

                                                                            For one of the best fritas in Miami go to either El Mago de las fritas(5828 sw 8 st) or El Rey de las fritas(1821 sw 8 st) or Morro Castle is good too.
                                                                            http://www.elmagodelasfritas.com/#!menu
                                                                            http://www.reydelasfritas.com/Menu.aspx
                                                                            Have fun and happy pigging out,
                                                                            Kim

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: KImKinMIA

                                                                              Arroz con pollo is one of my test dishes.
                                                                              The serving I had of it at Villa Habana last year was pretty sad. Maybe it was an off night.

                                                                              1. re: KImKinMIA

                                                                                I ate lunch at Morro Castle after a trip to the airport Tuesday. My son had a big cheeseburger and fries; I had a frita. Ketchup and Trappey's on the side. We also shared a batido which was great. The best part is the atmosphere. Sitting behind those bars is good practice for some of the customers and the view of the traffic is splendid.

                                                                                1. Man this thread is old... i enjoy Latin American and Versailles, especially if it's like 3 am. That place gets more and more alive after midnight

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: crowmuncher

                                                                                    I am coming in with a group of buddies in a few weekends.... Cuban seems like a good option on Friday night. We're staying round south beach and would love a place we can get a good Cuban meal and have some drinks after the flight... hard for me to tell from the lists above because it's my first trip and I have no idea about the geography. Anyone offer some ideas?

                                                                                    1. re: mowenbrown

                                                                                      Try Havana 1957 on Espanola Way. They seem to be getting good reviews for standard Cuban.

                                                                                      1. re: mowenbrown

                                                                                        It may a little ways from the beach but being born and raised in Miami i have tried them all and none beat The Carreta on SW8th street. A local favorite for many years the food is good, the prices reasonable, and you can also enjoy drinks.

                                                                                        1. re: gatorcanejoe

                                                                                          I'm not seeing much about Puerto Sagua. We will be in town in just over a month and was planning on eating there, but would HH be a better choice? TIA!

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                                                                                          Puerto Sagua Restaurant
                                                                                          700 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139