Miami's Must-Try Cuban Restaurants
It's tough to get a bad meal at Puerto -- we've been visiting here for a few years and still haven't been disappointed -- but there are a few standouts on the menu, most notably, the filete salteado, strips of beef tenderloin sauteed with peppers and a special sauce, and the pernil asado, pork shoulder braised with onions in its own juices and spices. Start your meal with an order of croquetas con jamon, chockfull of ham chunks, and end it with the homemade flan, topped with a decadently rich caramel sauce.
Start your day with one of Exquisito's breakfast deals, like the small steak with 2 eggs, fries, toast and cafe con leche. If you arrive later in the day or evening, order the vaca frita, and ask for a side of malanga, a type of root vegetable, served with mojo, a tangy uber-garlicky sauce. Consider a visit to Exquisito and Little Havana on the popular Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays), a monthly street festival and arts gallery stroll through the neighborhood.
Best Cuban Joint in the City 02:30
If you can only eat one Cuban meal in Miami -- the horror! -- make it a late-night dinner at Versailles on Calle Ocho (8th Street) in the heart of Little Havana. To eat at Versailles is to experience Miami's superlative Cuban restaurant: The sprawling restaurant has been dishing up authentic Cuban food for more than 40 years, and has earned its mark as the city's iconic Cuban establishment.
Stop by Versailles early in the morning to see older men sipping cortaditos (Cuban coffees), or pop by the busy take-out window at lunchtime to grab a traditional Cubano sandwich, sweet ham, roast pork and Swiss cheese on toasted Cuban bread with mustard and pickles. But really, the highlight of a trip to Versailles is during prime dinner hours, which for the local Cuban population starts sometime after 9 p.m. As the night rolls on, the place fills up with local Cuban exiles and politicos, chattering together and enjoying traditional meals like vaca frita, shredded beef fried with onions and served with moro, a mix of black beans and white rice.
El Palacio de Los Jugos
More outdoor marketplace than sit-down restaurant, El Palacio features a number of hot-food counters with traditional Cuban grub that runs the gamut from fresh juices like papaya and guava (in fact, El Palacio de Los Jugos translates to "Juice Palace") to ropa vieja, shredded beef stewed in tomatoes and spices, and perhaps El Palacio's most popular offering, chicharrones, crispy fried pork rinds.
Head bravely to one of the prepared food counters and order a plato, which is actually a Styrofoam container filled with a solid 2 pounds of rice, beans, plantains and the entree of your choice (we couldn't get enough shredded pork or ropa vieja). Head to one of the outdoor tables and watch the world go by as you stuff yourself to bursting. Wash that goodness down with a fresh, thick mango juice, and you'll be sated for many hours to come.
As the lunch and dinner hours approach, Sergio's whips up a selection of 20 Cuban-style sandwiches including the classic cubano and the pan con bistec, thinly sliced grilled steak and onions topped with tomatoes, a hearty pile of shoestring fries and served on buttered Cuban toast. Have a late-night craving? Two of Sergio's locations are open 24 hours on weekends. We suggest popping in along with a slew of local Cubans, and satisfying your hunger with a hearty churrasco, a skirt steak grilled to perfection and served with mild or spicy chimichurri sauce. Come on, it's Cuban food -- you gotta go spicy!