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south beach trip--dying for cuban food

lawgirlontherun Mar 24, 2008 05:49 PM


I'm coming to South Beach from way up here in Ohio. I think I'm the only Midwesterner alive that hasn't been to Florida. :) Anyway, I've been jonsing for some good Cuban food since I was in Chicago this summer. I've read the guide books, and searched a bit here to no avail. What's the lowdown? Where's the most authentic tasting Cuban food in the area? Is Yuca a good choice?

Thanks in advance. My mouth is watering.

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  1. t
    tpigeon RE: lawgirlontherun Mar 24, 2008 06:16 PM

    Yuca is overpriced but good. Your best bet for authentic cuban is puerto sagua - which is a hole in the wall. David's is nicer but not quite as good as puerto sagua but close...

    1 Reply
    1. re: tpigeon
      tpigeon RE: tpigeon Mar 24, 2008 06:17 PM

      P.S. go to tap tap for the best mojitos in the universe.

    2. m
      mialebven RE: lawgirlontherun Mar 24, 2008 11:07 PM

      Generally nobody in Miami has developed a consensus on the best Cuban in South Beach. My favorite would be Larios on the Beach simply because of the good experience I had in its branch location in South Miami. Never been though.

      But really, judging from the "best of" remarks of Cuban restaurants in South Beach, I would have to say they're all about the same. Puerto Sagua, David's Cafe, Larios on the Beach are the three most often mentioned Cuban places in South Beach even though there's others (two more along Collins, I think?).

      Yuca is overpriced, and I find the food to be mediocre. But at the same time it is more "gourmet" than other Cuban restaurants. If that's your thing, then go for it. If you're looking for a taste factor, it won't be much above the other Cuban restaurants. None of them will really "wow" anyone, even the generally better ones in Miami.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mialebven
        Frodnesor RE: mialebven Mar 25, 2008 06:08 AM

        It has been a long time since I've been to Yuca but I used to go fairly often years ago, and I do think that it is a step above in "taste factor" aside from just being a more elegant "gourmet" place than the regular Cuban joint. The ceviche, the guava-BBQ baby back ribs, the rabo encendido (if still as good as when I last had them) are leagues above anything I've had at any traditional Cuban place.

        However, having said that, I don't really see Yuca as being the most "authentic" Cuban experience. Yuca is "Nuevo Latino" - not that that's a bad thing in any way. For me, though, "authentic" means a good old-fashioned place where you can get some lechon asado, or ropa vieja, or masas de puerco, and some maduros or tostones and of course some black beans and rice or congri. For that, I think you can pop into any of the South Beach places and they'll hit the spot, and I have trouble saying that one is much better than another.

      2. l
        LargeLife RE: lawgirlontherun Mar 25, 2008 04:33 AM

        If it's that important to have great Cuban food, you may want to head to the mainland and go to the landmark restaurants like Versailles in the heart of Little Havana or La Carreta or Lario's (Flagler)....Las Culebrinas (Grove) or many others in the area.....These places not only serve traditional Cuban favorites...but you get the Cuban vibe.....


        1. s
          Sabs Grumblin Tummy RE: lawgirlontherun Mar 25, 2008 08:17 AM

          If you're looking for authentic (sanitary) cuban food, unfortunately, you're not gonna find it in south beach. BUT, if you're willing to make a 20 min drive, you should go to Versailles in Little Havana (3555 SW 8th Street). This has to be the best cuban cuisine i've had in my 7 years of residing in MIA. The best part is that afterwards, you can walk around and get some cigars and get a feel for some cuban culture. If you're not willing to make the trek, David's Cafe 2 (1654 Meridain Ave) isn't too shabby.

          In regards to the reviews on Yuca, I have only had awful experiences there and Larios isn't all that great. Bongo's at the Bayside Marketplace would be a fun atmostphere with acceptable food. Whatever you decide, I hope you have fun in Miami!

          1. m
            mialebven RE: lawgirlontherun Mar 26, 2008 02:19 PM

            Well... today I had Cuban , and I had it in the unthinkable area for a Miami resident - the Beach. I came upon this restaurant by chance, as I was trying to go to Cantina 27 for Italian but I didn't realize they only served dinner.

            And I must say, it was crowded with locals when I went for a late lunch, around 1 pm. I had a pastelito de guayaba y queso and it was yummy. I also had the vaca frita that was not salty like some Cuban places serve them, and it was served on a bed of romaine lettuce. Very good, especially after I squeeze that lime over it. They even make the flan in house, and I have to say it had a good caramel flavor (but it was a bit melted like a pudding, which it shouldn't be - if it was chilled more, then it would be just right).

            My dining companion also liked his huge milanesa de pollo and Cuban tamal. The side of the salad is not going to impress anyone, as with in any Cuban hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Miami or in the Beach (I actually think Larios and Enriqueta's does a better job in that field). Other sides were good.

            The menu was limited (they don't even have yuca), but everything less than 10 dollars, and from what I've had so far, I must say to skip David's Cafe, Puerto Sagua and head here if you're wanting a hole-in-the-wall, lips-smacking Cuban in the Beach.

            I did not try their sandwiches though.

            Tropical Beach Cafe
            2891 Collins Avenue
            Miami Beach, FL 33140

            Open 7 days from 8 am to 8 pm.

            10 Replies
            1. re: mialebven
              pizzajunkie RE: mialebven May 29, 2008 09:37 AM

              I found this post while trying to get the lowdown on Larios on the Beach. I am from New Orleans, just looking for decent Cuban food that we can't get here - not necessarily the most authentic, just tasty.

              My Frommer's says Larios is "overrated", but it is very convenient to my hotel, so I was thinking of trying it. I just want a delicious Cuban sandwich! :) I just mapped the Tropical Beach Cafe and realized it is too far away. Larios on the Beach isn't horrible, right?

              1. re: pizzajunkie
                tpigeon RE: pizzajunkie May 29, 2008 10:35 AM

                Puerto sagua is also close to you if you are close to larios.

                1. re: pizzajunkie
                  Miami Danny RE: pizzajunkie May 29, 2008 10:36 AM

                  Go to Puerto Sagua for a Cuban. (Collins and 7th) Sit at the counter and watch an old Cuban guy make your sandwich. For the whole Cuban experience, go to Versailles. Or try my current favorite, Latin Cafe 2000 on Biscayne and 25th St. http://dailycocaine.blogspot.com/2008...

                  1. re: Miami Danny
                    advisor_Girl RE: Miami Danny May 29, 2008 12:03 PM


                    Great sammies? Try Las Olas Cafe on 644 6th Street.


                    1. re: advisor_Girl
                      tpigeon RE: advisor_Girl May 29, 2008 02:10 PM

                      Their fresh fruit drinks are the best.

                    2. re: Miami Danny
                      jessierandall RE: Miami Danny May 29, 2008 01:49 PM

                      The pollo a la plancha is good at Latin Cafe 2000 but the rice is always undercooked. What's up with that?

                      1. re: jessierandall
                        Miami Danny RE: jessierandall May 29, 2008 02:28 PM

                        Weird. I ate there Tuesday and the rice was perfect. Maybe I like it a little al dente?

                    3. re: pizzajunkie
                      mialebven RE: pizzajunkie May 29, 2008 05:24 PM

                      If you want to stay within "walking-distance" in South Beach, then I probably would suggest Puerto Sagua, but Larios on the Beach is not "bad." I probably would expect the sandwiches at Puerto Sagua to be better than Lario's and Lario's entrees to be better than Puerto Sagua, but that's my hunch. And I do think Tropical Beach would beat them both, but you'er right, it's a bit more of a trek. Otherwise, I just eat Cuban in the city of Miami.

                      1. re: mialebven
                        Miami Danny RE: mialebven May 29, 2008 09:35 PM

                        I would also like to add that I have actually eaten thru the menu at Puerto Sagua several times, and their entrees are excellent as well. Great ropa vieja, roast chicken, and, if you are lucky, the giblets in coconut special. Lario's is for tourists.

                        1. re: Miami Danny
                          tpigeon RE: Miami Danny May 30, 2008 06:35 AM

                          Yes, larios is definitely not better than PS.

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