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Latin America Cafeterias? Where'd they go?

Just got back from a quick vacation in Miami only to discover that my favorite cuban sandwich place, Latin America, has been closed. I also learned that the location at Coral Gables is closed. Does anyone know what happened?

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  1. Latin America on 68th street in Hialeah is closed?! What?! Impossible! How could that possibly happen? Did you go by there on Thanksgiving Day -- maybe they closed for the day. (I'm driving over there tommorrow to look!)

    1. 27th Ave in the Grove=closed

      Original location on Coral Way=closed

      As for the other ones out in the boondocks of Dade county
      :-) I have no idea-but I do wish they'd open up again on the East side. The Latin Cafe (no relation) on Biscayne Blvd is a very poor substitute...and boarderline dreadful.

      The original L.A. was one of my staples. It got wolloped by Wilma and never reopened. I thought I saw a sign saying it would reopen, but a drive by the other day proved that it is still sadly closed. I got to say, I thought it was better than Versailles, which is IMHO over-rated.

      What are some other great Cubano joints on the eastside? Please, I need a replacement for L.A., and have yet to find anything worthy. I'm looking for inexpensive - casual - quick - easy access - aka - bueno - bonito y barato.

      Any good recommendations other la carreta and versailles? Both of which will do in a pinch, but are nothing special, nor are they worthy of weekly or bi-monthly visits.

      Give it up MIA! Por favor!!!

      1. The place across the street from Green Street, Mambo Cafe?, on Main H'way in the Grove is acceptable

        1. I like Sergio's (Coral Way and 32nd or 27th?). Great lechon sandwich.

          1. Yep, it is true -- unfortunately!. Scuttle butt in the area says the owner got into financial difficulty.
            We go to Latin American Grill (not the same thing) out in Pembroke Pines -- on Pines Blvd, across from CB Smith park. It is actually next door to the Honey Baked Ham store.
            There is also a Latin American Grill in Miami Lakes, but the food is not as good and the service is bad.

            Many Cuban food maniacs love Rio Crystal on Bird Road (just up the road a little from Arbetters). They love the mountains of shoestring fries on the bistec empanizado. I find their food a little too greasy, personally.

            What about the place Gloria Estefan owns -- what is the name? Its supposed to be good. Anybody?

            7 Replies
            1. re: Sloppy eater

              Gloria's place on Ocean Drive is called Lario's on the Beach and it is very good-quite expensive for Cuban food, but a bargain on Ocean Drive and is among the best choices on the Drive.

              Latin American Grill is good. One of the owners worked for LA Cafeteria and actually got sued for name/concept infringement. Ultimately, he won and they do do a nice job-it's far for me though!

              Who knows Luis Galindo's Original Latin America/n on BirdRd and SW 8th St??? Is it any good??? Please advise ...

                1. re: netmover

                  Is Casa Larios still open? It was the first place that gave GE the inspiration to open her up scale Cuban place on the beach. It was in the mall off the Palmetto ( can you tell how long it's been since i've lived in Miami - it used to be called the Midway Mall and then became the Mall of the Americas)Anyway, they had the best vaca frita in the universe.

                  1. re: eimac

                    Yes the original is still open in that very same mall...and it is still great. I just ate there the other day in fact. They also opened another branch, I want to say in South Miami? Anyway, the Estefans broke away from the Lario family yet still use the name on Ocean Drive. Same great food although more money. It's still a great deal for Ocean Drive where a crappy mahi special can run you $45 without blinking an eye!

                    Anyone been to Luis Galindo's Latin America on Red Road and SW 8th St? It looks insteresting from the outside...

                    1. re: netmover

                      Hands down the best Cuban food in town. On top of that their prices are hard to beat.

                    2. re: eimac

                      Hey, you are missing out on so much fun on the Palmetto Expressway each morning at rush hour since you moved away! Actually, the mall is now called International Mall (I think). I don't know about Casa Larios, but I do remember that the Estefans used to frequent the place.

                      1. re: eimac

                        Casa Larios is off the Palmetto on 79 Ave North West near the Mall of the Americas. "Larios" is on the Beach and it is owned by The Estefans. They also have another restaurant called Bongos here in Miami and in Orlando on the Disney grounds. Both are over priced but the food is delicious.

                        International Mall has I beleive the best "La Carreta" as the one on Bird Road and 87 Avenue. Food is always fresh and they have fast service.

                  2. I'm surprised nobody in this (admittedly old) thread has mentioned my personal favorite Cuban restaurant in Miami, La Carreta. There are a few locations around town (including one in the airport), but I'm most familiar with the one on Bird Road (SW 40th Street) and Galloway Road (SW 87th Avenue) in Westchester (perhaps the original, and the best) and the one on North Kendall Drive (SW 88th Street) and SW 117th Avenue. The menu is diverse, the portions are immense, the prices are excellent, and the service has always been great, at least in my experience. They're also open very late.

                    However, as a non-Hispanic with mediocre Spanish skills and a horrendous accent, I never received anything but slow, contemptuous service and lots of bemused eye-rolling from the staff at the Latin American Cafeteria in Kendall, on Sunset Drive (SW 72nd Street) and SW 97th Avenue. More often than not we'd simply get ignored, and Spanish-speaking customers that arrived later than we did would get served first -- either for table service or at the walk-up window. I'm not sure if they're still around, but I wouldn't miss them if they were gone.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                      I used to live near the LAC on Sunset and ate there all the time with no sense of anti-gringo attitude. The last time I was in Miami was Sept 2006 and still no problemos.
                      They do the best pan con bistec!!!!

                      La Carreta always satisfied - the original used to be on 8th street acroos from Versailles.
                      I don't know if it's still there, but I was eating there in the late 70's and it was great.
                      They do a nice breakfast - steak, eggs and Cuban toast. Lord, I miss it.

                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                        La Carretta is pretty much a chain now. There's one in the airport and several more in Broward. I don't find them to be very special, more like a Cuban Shoney's. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but there is better food in the little cafeterias of Hialeah and Miami Lakes.