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Is 3hrs at MIA enough time to run out for lunch?

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I've looked at previous threads and see comments that 4 hours is enough time...but how about 3?

On a Friday afternoon, I've got a layover b/w 12-3pm and would love to run out for lunch and get some good Cuban food or anything else great, if feasible considering travel, security, etc.

I also see a lot of recommendations for Versailles. I'll be looking for something fast, inexpensive, but delicious! Does it fit the bill?

For what it's worth, I'll be coming in and out of an American terminal.

Thank you in advance!!!

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  1. Versailles is less than 5 miles from Miami airport and a door-to-door cab ride, even considering potential traffic, shouldn't be more than about 20 minutes. It's not the greatest food in the world but it's at least decent, the place is certainly amusing (mirrors and chandeliers everywhere), it's a Miami landmark, and they should be able to get you in and out with time to spare.

    1. If Cuban food is anything, it's usually served very fast. Three hours should be way more than enough, though I always have a huge amount of trepidation leaving an airport in a city I don't know

      1. Thanks to you both! I think I'm going to give it a shot! Fordnesor, is there a place as close you would recommend over Versailles?

        I went to high school in Miami many many years ago, so it's a city I feel fairly comfortable in and why I'm feeling ambitious enough to try...although things have changed a lot since I moved away!

        Thanks again!

        3 Replies
        1. re: _cjw_

          For Cuban, not particularly. Speaking for myself, I think the "heights" of Cuban food only go so high, and so you may well as make it a good experience -- and Versailles is certainly an experience.

          1. re: _cjw_

            Only other place I'd throw out that's cab distance would be Las Culebrinas on Flagler and around 47th Ave. A little more upscale than Versailles and the food a little better. Both are stalwarts with Versailles having the edge of longevity.

            1. re: _cjw_

              If you're willing to go about 20 blocks more (easy enough).. go to Calle Ocho and 13th Avenue.. have lunch at El Nuevo Siglo -- then head across the street to the fruit market and get a tasty batido for your return trip to the airport. The entire food adventure (including batido) will cost you about $10

            2. I fly in/out of MIA about twice a week and I gotta say - youre playing with fire dude. Miami traffic sucks all around the airport, getting thru security in Miami is a total bitch too unless you have 1st class access. Good luck but Id advise against it. Sorry I cant offer anywhere to eat at MIA because there is not one place I would eat there unless I was in dire need of food. There is a "La Carreta" there which has Cuban food. Quite frankly, leaving the airport to get Cuban food is a total waste anyways.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Blind Mind

                I got to agree. I would feel very insecure about leaving the airport knowing how the traffic is and the security is all ways a crap shoot. Versailles can be busy at times but they do work pretty fast to get food out to you. FWIW Versailles has a fast food joint in the airport. Certainly not as good as at their main restaurant but.......

                With a 4-6 hr layover I would feel more secure about leaving and getting back with extra time.

              2. poor you. MIA has awful food - a Sbarro, a Starbucks, a smoothie place, BK, and a small cuban cafe which is about the best of the lot. Ughh I hate flying out of MIA - we bring our own food from home.

                1. For the chance you're risking with traffic/security/potential food (Versailles is normally very crowded during prime lunch time) delays and not to mention hailing a cab for trip back (its not like NYC where you jump in anywhere and even resto calling doesn't mean fast in Miami) I would not chance it.

                  La Carreta at the airport is owned by the same family that owns Versailles and the food is "flip a coin close enough for govt work" although admittedly like Frod said you would not get the ambience of Versailles. Stay relaxed and catch up on El Miami Sabor when you have more time. Safe trip.

                  5 Replies
                    1. re: eatnbmerry

                      thanks to all! your comments have been very helpful. last night i also thought to call a miami friend of mine. he recently moved away from the city, but in the past month has been in and out of the mia airport many times. he told me no, it's not enough time right now, w/ the security times. (and he also had positive things to say about La Carreta.)

                      so i will sit around mia for 3 hours...will be a good excuse to go visit sometime later this year as it's been too long since i've visited.

                      thanks again! ps - re: the heights of cuban food or trekking for cuban food being a waste...there's none of it where i live now and for a girl who spent a couple of years in miami, i like to get a little feel for cubano vibes when i can. i mean, i don't even eat pork or red meat...so mostly i was just looking for beans and rice and background noise (outside of an airport).

                      1. re: _cjw_

                        As a non red meat eater, you might want to inquire about La Carreta's Black Beans. Most Cuban (or Cuban-Style) Black Beans do have pork of some kind in them.

                        Not trying to ruin your Cuban food fix, but there is nothing worse than being stuck on a plane with an upset stomach!

                        1. re: _cjw_

                          definitely dont do it man... I just flew back to Miami and it took 25-30 minutes just to go from the airport to the Fast Park lot which is just outside of the airport. Major construction all around. I think in Terminal E there might be a Fridays or something like that. I just remember seeing a major chain restaurant and saying to myself, "Wow, thats news to me!" Good luck and safe travels.

                          1. re: Blind Mind

                            thanks, winechic and blind mind. i usually ask about beans at any kind of restaurant...it's always good to bear in mind. and the comments about construction solidify my decision to stay in terminal. i may have to bring along my own meal from nyc though, since i tend to hate airport food (comments about la carreta notwithstanding)...thanks again!!!

                      2. It appears you have concluded, prudently, that you are condemned to endure the 3 hours on the airport grounds. The Top of the Port restaurant in the MIA Hotel, while not a memory maker, can be a soothing respite from the thousands of travelers rushing around with their wheelie bags and yakking on their cell phones.