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Oct 12, 2007 10:22 AM

Cafes & Bakeries in Miami

Miami Chowhounds have it lucky... Yes, San Francisco and New York has more of an European feel thanks to their city layouts. They also may have more European restaurants (other than Spanish restaurants). But many visitors that comes to Miami have noticed something... we have more European-style bakeries and European-style people supporting these businesses.

Think about it... Miami is defined by its plethora of Latin American bakeries, where you can make a quick stop for a meal - whether it be for breakfast, hot entrees, baked goods (pastelitos, crossaints, sandwiches), desserts (napoleons, eclairs, mousse de parchita or mango anyone?), and/or, of course, for a good cup of coffee.

And many people in Miami seems to be content with going to these bakeries for a light or quick meal - otherwise we wouldn't have so many of these! And it's nice to have these places to just go and relax, ponder your future with the good aromas, or to chat with your friends.

So, my question to you, fellow Chowhounds of Miami... what are some of your favorite cafeterias/cafes/bakeries in the city... and why?

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  1. I can't say I agree with your premise that Miami has more or better European-style bakeries than, say, SF. Let's see if this post generates the same level of response (and enthusiasm) as this one for Bay Area:

    Indeed, I have yet to find a decent croissant with properly flaky texture anywhere in this city, though I don't think the humidity is conducive to it. If anyone has a suggestion I'd love to hear it.

    29 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      I don't know why you chose SF and NY, but comparing Miami's food scene to anywhere else always leaves us wanting. NY definitely has as many if not more Spanish restaurants (or Hispanic ones, if that's what you meant), SF? Silly to compare-one of the greatest food towns in the world. If you are saying that Miami has a latin coffee culture, I wouldn't disagree. But where are all these European-style bakeries and 'European-style' people (not sure what that means)? It's not hard to get an empanada, croqueta, etc., but I don't think that's European. And where, I'm begging you, can a decent baguette?

      1. re: Miami Danny

        I found this post perplexing. I don't really think of Miami as having any kind of strength in European culinary culture. Yes, we have lots of Europeans, and as a % of the population, maybe more than NY and SFO, but I don't see them supporting any business that are really that stellar. Heck, Renaissance Bakery, one of the only independent bakeries in town, is no longer around. All we have is Paul and Panera and the bakery at whole foods. Ankarr got awful when it was sold and Karlo isn't that great.

        As for Latin American bakeries, and specifically Cuban ones, we've got more than anyone. As for their quality, most I've been to have been mediocre.

        1. re: lax2mia

          What happened to Andalusia Bakery? There used to be one on US1 near Dadeland Mall, and another in Coral Gables. They had a lot of prepared gourmet foods as well as baked goods, and they were AWESOME.

          1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

            Andulsia was started in Coral Gables in the 1940's and for years was incredible. Then the owners wanted to retire so they sold thier bakery to a group that promised to keep it the way it used to be. They off course wanted to make a quick buck, so they expanded way to quickly and without enough capital to keep them going and as a result filed for bankruptcy and closed. It is so sad because I started going there with my mom as a toddler!

            1. re: MiamiSarah

              Is there any way to contact the original owners to get a recipe for their outrageous chocolate cake?

              1. re: lovthatlea

                I wish that I knew WHAT they did, that made their NY style cheesecakes so good. Perhaps less sugar than most other bakeries use. The taste was really rich. In the Coral Gables store, you had to grab a number, because it was often a madhouse. My mother also bought their rum balls for parties.

            2. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

              Grew up with the place, as well. In the 60s/70s, as a kid, then in the 80s, as a UM student. The cheesecakes were incredible - the best I've ever had. Being a skinny college kid, at the time, I'd eat an entire NY style cake for dinner. They were VERY rich and cheesy.

              1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                I was the manager of the original Andalusia for a couple of years after Jesse sold the bakery. The reason why everything collapsed was because the new owner wasn't happy with the original bakery in the Gables, which was unbelievably profitable, he wanted to create his version of Balducci's down here. He expanded himself into bankruptcy but I saw the writing on the wall and opened my own bakery. I can get you guys some recipes but unless you have a 60 quart mixer they aren't going to work. If you let me know which ones you want I will create a home version of our cakes.

                1. re: BocaHerb

                  I would love to have the recipe for the cake they used for wedding cakes... we had our wedding cake from Andalusia in 1987, and I remember it was just wonderful! If you don't mind, I'd treasure that recipe!

                  1. re: BocaHerb

                    We still talk about the cheesecake and the unbelievable cheese Danish.
                    Any recipes would be great!


                    1. re: BocaHerb

                      Hi BocaHerb! I am one of the biggest fans of Andalusia and had gone there since I was a kid. My FAVORITE were the rainbow cookies. They were second to none! Do you have any idea where I can get rainbow cookies similar to the ones at Andalusia?

                      1. re: BocaHerb

                        I grew up in the '70's and '80's and lived at Andalusia Bakery (God I miss that place!). In a perfect world, BocaHerb would part with the frosting recipe used on the chocolate and vanilla cupcakes (the vanilla and chocolate cake recipes too)as well as the entire Napoleon recipe. BocaHerb I would be forever in your debt!!! Please share them!!!! No bakery has ever been able to compete!!!
                        Thank you in advance for anything you can come up with!

                        1. re: BocaHerb

                          Looking for BocaHerb's bakery. Name and location please?

                          1. re: ALMTB

                            BocaHerb learned how to make lots of money on the internet so I said good bye to having to deal with employees, landlords, traffic on the way to work, and getting up at 4 AM everyday.

                              1. re: Ripshin

                                I have over 100 but I'm not here to promote anything

                                1. re: BocaHerb

                                  You mentioned Andalusia Bakery recipes, that's why I asked.

                                  1. re: Ripshin

                                    I had all of those recipes in a computer that I don't have anymore. I lost interest in such labor intensive businesses. Andalusia wasn't like Publix where everything is a mix or comes in frozen

                                    1. re: BocaHerb

                                      Never implied that it was, that is obviously why I asked. You don't really sound like a chef or cook - so much bitterness would spoil the recipes.....

                    2. re: Miami Danny

                      FYI the Empanada is European. It was born in Celtic Galicia-in Northwestern Spain.
                      As for Cubans in Miami yes they are of European extraction-Spain to be exact. Croquetas are also European-Spain again to be exact. See Spaniards came to Cuba throughout the centuries and brought these foods.

                      1. re: Girasol

                        The roots of the empanada may actually trace back to the Middle East or Near East. Similar dishes are popular throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East, and South Asia.

                        1. re: racer x

                          The empanada belongs to the Celts of Galicia, Spain and the Celts of Cornwall, England. The Cornish pastie is an Empanada. The reason it is found in Cuba and Argentina like you find apples all over New England is because the highest concentration of Celtic Galician (in the North Eastern corner of Spain facing the Atlantic) immigrants left from the 1850s thru the 1950s settling in Cuba and Argentina-3 million in total. As happens sometimes recipes spread and you find the empanada in other Spanish speaking countries too. But its origin for sure is Celtic Galicia and Cornwall.

                          1. re: Girasol

                            "The first record of a turnover was the *sanbusak*, a Farsi word indicating that it originated in Persia.... first recorded in Iraq in the early ninth century. It arrived in Iberia by at least the early thirteenth century...."

                            "The Samosa has been a popular snack in South Asia for centuries. It is believed that it originated in Central Asia (where they are known as samsa) prior to the 10th century. Abolfazl Beyhaqi (995-1077), an Iranian historian has mentioned it in his history, Tarikh-e Beyhaghi...."

                    3. re: Frodnesor

                      The very best is The French Bakery US1 and 144th. Just had breakfast there. Ham and cheese croissant and illy coffee. i thik these croissants are the best you can get in MIami. The bread and the pastries are fantastic. They only use Belgian chocolate and they have a hardcore dark chocolate mousse cake.
                      The owner is on site and they make great sandwiches to order. The line is out the door on weekends.

                      The best bagel in these parts (down south you all) is the Outrageous bagel Kendall and 107th if that counts as a bakery for this discussion.

                      La crema de la empanada on Coral Way and 107th is a very good authentic venezuelan bakery where you get fried empanadas with sweet corn dough and all kinds of stuffings like white cheese and black beans.

                      Don Pan is HIDEOUS.

                      1. re: mom2mateo

                        Here is another shout out for The French Bakery, which is as good as it gets here. I also think Paul is great. Generally speaking, however, one can get better bread in ANY supermarket in the Bay Area than one can find in 95% of our bakeries. (anecdotal evidence at its worst). Furthermore, one can find a better bakery throwing a dart at a map in Paris, Berlin, Rome, Barcelona -- virtually anywhere in Europe -- than anywhere here aside from our absolute favorites. I hate to be negative, but the bread in Miami is awful!

                        1. re: mom2mateo

                          Although French Bakery at US1 and SW 144th Street has great baked goods, the service has really gone downhill.

                          1. re: frako

                            I'm there all the time. When it is busy, you wait in line. As it is a takeout, my experience is that it depends on the crowd. I find the staff more respectful than many of the slobs who eat ouside and fail to clean.

                            1. re: taiga

                              The line doesn't bother me. That way I know it still has the same quality as before. I would be worried if I went there on a weekend and there weren't a line!

                              A smile and thank you is too much to ask?

                          2. re: mom2mateo

                            Btw has anyone had a good experience with Don Pan? I used to avoid them since I also think the quality is very subpar but lately I've been pleased with their pan de queso (cheese bread) and their golfeados (anise rolls similar to cinnamon rolls - the main reason why I go now at all). I haven't found better golfeados anywhere else actually.

                        2. I add to the chorus of "are you kidding me". There is not a place in miami that is 1/10 as good as something like patisserie claude in nyc.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tpigeon

                            Tuna fish in a can is mediocre and EVERYBODY eats it NOBODY calls is mediocre. HUMM?? Let's celebrate Cuban bakeries. They're everywhere because they are a community product. The community goes there for their pastelitos and croquetas-which are fabulous everywhere!! Nobody puts down Diners. What's the big deal with them?

                          2. Well, for sure I didn't expect such a negative sentiment from you guys... I'll clarify myself on a few fronts.

                            Most Latin American bakeries are in fact European-style. You can tell the difference between these and say, Asian bakeries. There's a lot of similarities between Latin American and European bakeries, and that shouldn't be surprising since many Latin American bakeries share roots with that of Spain.

                            Second of all, just because I said European-style bakery, don't go hopping up and down mad expecting the finest in French bakery goods. Just because I said it's European doesn't mean it's French. You don't find "baguettes" or "croissants" in Spanish bakeries in Spain, do you?

                            Third of all... San Francisco as a foodie town? I've been there, and I'll tell you it didn't impress - what impressed me the most was the fact that everything was "fresh" since many ingredients were locally grown. But as far as cooking skills go, I find San Francisco lacking in skilled cooking techniques that shows the breadth of culinary diversity. In this respect, San Francisco bows down to New York. But... I was merely talking about bakeries here - not 15 toques restaurants, 5 stars restaurants or anything of the like. I'm talking about down-to-earth, decent bakeries. In Paris, you go to a bakery that is local, decent, and who cares about how well-regarded it is in the city? I'm not trying to compare Paris with Miami, but I'm saying that such opportunities to enjoy local pleasures exist. Most bakeries sell their own loaves of bread - maybe not exactly the baguette you envisioned. Most bakeries have scrumptious sweets, like I've mentioned before. Most bakeries are good places to relax and have coffee. And that's what Europeans go to bakeries for the majority of the time.

                            Now stop for a second and think about other major foodie , cities - whether it be Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, and dare I say it - San Francisco... they have relatively few bakeries (unless if you're counting the ones that make only cakes) if we take into account the numerous Cuban bakeries that exists in Miami (we'll still have a bigger number if we took away the number of bakeries that don't even have sweets). The fact of whether or not you take advantage of the local cafe scene (which may be entirely air-conditioned) should not even refute the fact that there's tons of bakeries here - and probably more than any other city, at least by ratio.

                            We make chains out of our bakeries as well - we have Ricky's Bakery, Karla's Bakery, Don Pan, and numerous other bakeries. They are, in fact, bakeries - and if you ever bothered to look at the back wall, they make their own bread too. Aren't you guys least grateful to have these type of businesses close by your door? Yes, I'm well aware that many, if not most, are very mediocre at best.

                            But then again, that's why this thread was started - what's your favorite bakery in Miami - it is as simple of a question as that!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: mialebven

                              Having spent extensive periods in both cities, Chicago trumps New York in culinary talent in my opinion. La Estancia, the small Argentine chain has excellent lpasttries and good coffee if you want to eat in their cafe. I would put up the baked goods at Anny's on W. Dixie Highway against any similar kosher bakery in New York. Their challah is heavenly. Chocolada on Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood is a great scene on weekend nights. Great pastries and coffee with live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Just try to get a seat. Luarenzo's on W. Dixie Highway has wonderful cannolis. That being said, I miss the Chestnut Street Bakery in SF.

                              1. re: rebus1805

                                I'd love you to post how chicago trumps NYC on either the chicago or manhattan board. That would be very amusing.

                              2. re: mialebven

                                To answer directly your question - what's your favorite bakery in Miami - none right now, though I'm eager to hear others' suggestions. The only place that I ever thought was great was Biga Bakery, which is long gone.

                                To follow up on a couple other points ...

                                "European-style bakery" - I think most people will translate this to mean "French style," since the French are the preeminent bakers of Europe. Yes, Latin America has ties to Spain, but the unfortunate fact is that while Spain has excellent food (indeed one of my favorite cuisines), they are not exactly reknowned for their baked goods. Argentine bakeries tend to be a little more French in style but I've not found many that taste great (though they certainly make stuff that LOOKS beautiful, like at Chocolate Fashion).

                                "San Francisco as a foodie town?" Ummm, yes. I don't know where you ate when you were there, but SF offers some of the most diverse and highest quality culinary experiences of any US city. But if you're limiting yourself to bakeries (and I don't know how you can judge a city as a "foodie town" exclusively on their bakeries), I still don't see how the quality or diversity can compare unfavorably to Miami. There are a multitude of French style bakeries, artisan bakers, plus a ton of Asian bakeries, etc.

                                Miami has - well, a bunch of Cuban bakeries offering the same Cuban bread and pastelitos, along with an occasional Argentine bakery (which have generally underwhelmed me). And I'm not sure what your point is about local chains. As you note, most are mediocre at best. We should be grateful to have bakeries that actually have ovens to bake bread?

                                So what are the places you have in mind that I've been missing out on?

                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                  Well, since this thread got retrived...
                                  Totally agree with you. If not French, then how about a Portuguese bakery? Greek? German?

                                  I went to Montreal, had great French baguette (needless to say) and deliciolus Portuguese bread. and the nata... Oh the heavenly nata... I went to Tarpon Springs, and came back with loads of Greek pastry and bread to fill my freezer. And we have here are Cuban bread and pastelitos. There was a German bakery in Kendall but I think it's closed down a few years back.

                                  Where do I get my bread? Paul is too far away, so I am getting my daily bread at Panera and Costco. Honestly, they are good, chewy inside, crusty outside. If I could find a good artisan bakery, I definitely would go support it, but I just haven't find anything great.

                              3. Not sure why a lot of the discussions that go on here always end up comparing Miami to other food cities and turn into long threads of useless back and forth. Miami may be behind in many food fronts but why not embrace what it does have. I personally think Panizza Bakery (an Argentinean bakery) on Lincoln Road is pretty decent.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: miachef

                                  I think the back-and-forth is an indication of frustration, not negativity. The OP made the copmparisons, anyway, setting up the dichotomy. And instead of some nebulous 'idea', if someone were to actually post their favorite bakeries, that would be even more useful. However, the silence is deafening. A Cuban or Aregentinian bakery is in no way European, or Europen-style. That being said, I really like the pastries at the Argentinian bakery on Collins at 69th or 70th on the left (I think it's called Buenos Aires Bakery?). I also love Moises, the Venezuelan bakery at Collins and 73rd on the left. There is really nothing better than a fresh, hot tequeno. Their baguettes are acceptable, when they're fresh, but my standards are a little lower theses days.

                                  1. re: Miami Danny

                                    I would like to know... what's the difference between European-style bakeries and the Latin American bakeries? Don't tell me that the Latin American ones have guava inside their pastries - that's not much of a difference at all, in my opinion.

                                    1. re: mialebven

                                      It's like saying what's the difference between a European-style bakery and a North American bakery? I really don't know what makes one bakery from one place in the world different from another one in a different part of the world aside from what they serve. So yes, if I say a European bakery (and you should narrow it down because what you expect at a French bakery is different than what you're going to get in a Dutch one, etc.) has pastries filled with pastry cream they're different than an Argentine one where you're going to get dulce de leche and membrillo.

                                      BTW the best bakeries in Miami are long gone (Andalusia and Biga). Like everything else we're turning to chains (e.g. Whole Foods, Paul).

                                2. There is a good french bakery on Biscayne Blvd and 126 St., behind the old Roadhouse.
                                  Nice baked goods and excellent crepes. Good coffee, too.