The Best Cuban Restaurants In Miami guide image


The Best Cuban Restaurants In Miami

No one does it better than Miami.

Cuban culture and restaurants are essential to Miami. It’s the coladas and pastelitos that get our office workers through mind-numbing meetings, the lechon at our Christmas parties, and the ventanitas where you can find the best Cuban sandwiches in the world (pipe down, Tampa). And Miami is just as essential to the evolution of Cuban cuisine. There are over one million Cuban descendants currently living in Miami-Dade County, and it feels like we have just as many Cuban restaurants to choose from. So here are the ones you should be prioritizing. 


photo credit: Tasty Planet

Sanguich De Miami review image

Sanguich De Miami


2057 SW 8th St, Miami
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

If Miami made its own version of The Brave Little Toaster, the star of the movie would definitely be a planchita with a mapo as its sidekick. And if you want to see the hardest working planchita in the city, go to Little Havana and pop your head into Sanguich. As a small shop dedicated exclusively to sandwiches, they know how to use a sandwich press. And they always brush their bread with lard before pressing layers of pork, pickles, mustard, and swiss cheese between them. The result is perfectly crunchy bread that sounds like a hollow wall when you tap it. They make an excellent pan con bistec, but there’s a reason why this is our undisputed favorite Cuban sandwich in Miami (and why there’s often a line out the door). 

Why are we telling you to drive to Redland? Because it’s where the best pan con minuta we’ve ever eaten is. Reyes is a big open-air straw hut that sells local produce, honey, and fresh juice. But you’re coming here for Cuban food. Everything is hyper-local. The minuta is from a nearby fish farm, and you can thank Redland pigs for your lechon. Plus, portions are huge. They give you so much shredded vaca frita, it’s hard to close the styrofoam box it comes in. But we’re willing to make the drive again for that pan con minuta. The minuta is meaty, the onions are vinegary, and the potato sticks are crunchy. End your meal with the dulce de leche cortada with sugary milk curds that squeak when you bite them. 

Sign up for our newsletter.

Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.

By signing up, I agree to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Cafe La Trova is many things. It’s a Little Havana bar with excellent cocktails, a venue for live music, and one of Miami’s best Cuban restaurants. You’ll also find a mixture of people inside: locals celebrating a birthday and tourists—some come straight from the airport and leave their rolling bags with the host. We don’t blame them. The drinks are cold and the arroz con pollo is one of Miami’s best. But there’s one important thing Cafe La Trova always is: fun. The bartenders sporadically whip out instruments to play along with the band, and dancing in the dining room is encouraged. It’s a rare party restaurant that cares as much about the food and cocktails as it does about the scene.

If you’re from Miami, there’s a good chance you formed core memories here, sucking down cold batidos through narrow straws, pressing your face against the steam counter to get a better look at the lechon’s pig head, and finding a picnic table by the fans while your parents ordered. Since then, a lot has changed in Miami, but not at the Palacio De Los Jugos on West Flagler. There are just a lot more locations now—and with good reason. The skin surrounding Palacio’s chicharrones is bubbly and crunchy, and their arroz con pollo is fluffy. But you have to get a batido—thick milkshakes made with local tropical fruits—and order the batido de mamey. 

The service isn’t perfect, but Habana Vieja nails classic Cuban dishes like few others in town, including the city’s most mouth-puckering vaca frita. If guavas are in season, order the guava shells with cream cheese for dessert. It’s an old school Cuban dessert with pieces of guava simmered in sugar next to a triangular chunk of cream cheese—the epitome of Cuban cuisine’s love of sweet and salty combinations—and the great grandfather of all those pastelitos de guayaba y queso we love. Grab a seat at the bar with the regulars and you’ll feel like you’re on the porch of a Cuban farmhouse.

For as much as the Cuban diaspora changed Miami, its descendants are now transforming Cuban food. Chug’s is an excellent example of the sort of Cuban-American cuisine that feels so specific to our city. The pop’s frita comes with a tangy blue cheese salsa, the latkes are made with malanga, and their mariquitas are served with a French onion dip. But they win us over with a peeled banana. If you’re in any way Cuban, you’ve probably seen a relative slap an entire ripe banana onto a plate full of meat. And that’s exactly what their abuelas plate is—the kind of Cuban food you can usually only find at home. We order ours with lechon. It comes with black beans, rice, and of course a banana. Our only complaint is that we want a full banana (they only give you half) so we can combine every bite with that sweet fruit and salty lechon. 

Islas Canarias has the best croquetas in town. Unlike a lot of ham croquetas we’ve eaten, Islas' aren’t a mixture of ground mystery meat. Biting through their crispy outer layer reveals thin pieces of fresh chives, a sight you almost never see in any other croqueta. Their vaca frita is also seasoned perfectly—citrusy, salty, and so juicy. Plus, their moros come with chunks of fatty pork. The dining room is always packed, and the walls are lined with bottles of Spanish anise as if they were crown molding. But they also have the most Miami (it’s an adjective too) drive-thru, with a long line of idling cars who are all probably going to loudly order those croquetas.

Like so many Cuban restaurants in Miami, El Rey De Las Fritas has the look and feel of an American diner—like Miami’s version of Johnny Rockets. But instead of a jukebox, there’s a coin-operated mechanical horse in the corner. And their version of a burger is a Cuban frita—the best in town. These patties are rusted red with a smoky chorizo and beef blend that’s topped with crunchy potato sticks and placed between two Cuban bread buns. We like to order ours a caballo, which means “with an egg” and directly translates to “on horseback.” And, boy, do those eggs run, unlike their mechanical namesake in the corner, which we’ve never actually seen anyone use. 

Yes, El Rinconcito Super Latino III is a mouthful, and there are a confusing amount of rinconcitos in Miami. But when it comes to Cuban rinconcitos, this is our favorite. It’s a small spot with a few tables that serves one of the best pan con bistecs in the city. The meat is cooked perfectly, the bread is toasted and springy, and the vinegar and onions tie it all together. Their vaca frita is also tender and comes with a ton of limes, which you won’t actually need because the mojo onions mixed with the crispy beef provide more than enough flavor. If you’re in a rush, you can also order all of the above at the ventanita. 

Cubans are known for many things, and bread is undeniably one of them. Cuban bread has a thin crust, but it’s also soft in the middle. There’s no other bread like it, and this Hialeah bakery specializes in everything bread-related. Their Cuban sandwich is the size of your forearm, and it doesn’t just crunch when you bite into it. It plays your molars like a piano yet somehow manages to remain soft and fluffy beneath the surface. The croquetas are so good too. They even make cakes out of them—sweet vanilla frosted cakes surrounded by salty ham croquetas that look like a log cabin. If that sounds a bit extreme, just get the pastelitos de guayaba, which are the best in the county.   

photo credit: Courtesy Havana 1957

Havana 1957 Española Way review image

Havana 1957 Cuban Cuisine Española Way



OpenTable logo

It’s not usually a good sign when you see tourists wearing Panama hats and awkwardly wielding cigars outside a Cuban restaurant. Expectations are even lower when that restaurant is in South Beach. But it turns out that Havana 1957 isn’t just popular because of its location on Española Way—the food here is very good. Service is fast and personable (unlike nearby tourist traps) and the mojitos are refreshing. You’ll find some other creative takes on Cuban food, like ropa vieja empanadas served with a sweet pepper sauce on the side. And although the vaca frita looks like the sad tourist-trap variety that would startle an abuelita, its taste would certainly make her happy. Just make sure to mix it up so it gets to know the vinegary onions. 

Lots of people come to Enriquetas for their Cuban sandwiches. But it’s a solid spot for more than just one sandwich. You can order a buttery tostada at the ventanita and dip it into your cafe con leche for a quick breakfast, or grab a pan con bistec at their counter for lunch. But what truly makes Enriqueta’s so special is its location in the middle of Wynwood and Edgewater, two neighborhoods that are growing like Everglades pythons. Enriqueta’s is one of the last old school spots left in the area. Whenever we see it surrounded by monstrous apartment buildings, it reminds us of that house from Up, a last holdout from the before-times, when Edgewater and Wynwood weren’t full of bad restaurants with more subwoofers than tables. 

This Westchester Cuban diner is known for one thing: the bistec rio cristal. It’s a thin beef steak (let that “beef steak” translation sink in) with one giant side of papitas. It’s why people come here—a pile of fries the size of Mt. Tropical Park that makes you question if there really is a steak under all those potato twigs. But it’s there, juicy, and layered with onions and parsley. Some people like to spurt ketchup all over the top, but these are not finger fries. They’re short and bumpy so you can stab them with your fork and eat them together with your steak. Rio Cristal also might just have the absolute best flan in Miami too. 

La Carreta is Versailles’ less famous sister restaurant. And while Versailles has a big-city feel, La Carreta is more rural. The ceiling is lined with straw hatching, the servers wear guayaberas, and it’s more casual. The place is huge—and so are the portions. The vaca frita is shredded into long delicious strips, and the maduros are crunchy around the edges. The mariquitas are crisp, and the mojo is so strong, it pricks the tip of your tongue. Despite their differences, the menus at Versailles and La Carreta are extremely similar—but the food is much better here. So next time someone visiting Miami insists on going to Versailles, take them to the ventanita for a colada and then cross the street to eat at La Carreta. 

Food by the pound is such a beautiful concept, and Blue Sky nails it. This restaurant is basically one long steam counter with over 30 delicious choices. It’s a great option if you’ve been tasked with finding food for your cousin’s baby shower. But if you don’t like loud family parties (we understand), the $12.95 dinner gets you a big styrofoam box full of vaca frita strips, rice, thick black beans, and maduros—which you can eat alone even though you’ll never be able to finish it in one sitting. These dinners aren’t charged by the pound, but we weighed it anyway, and it clocked in at 1.75 lbs. In case you were curious. 

There are tons of great Cuban restaurants in Hialeah, and this is one of them. Morro castle is known for their fritas and churros, which are good, but we really love their vaca frita and elena ruz. You just have to know how to order here, because your choice of side makes all the difference. Order the vaca frita with yuca and mojo. Then dip that fried flank steak in the mojo sauce and enjoy it with a piece of yuca in one bite. And if you order the elena ruz, ask for it with ham instead of turkey. Is it still technically an elena ruz? We bet its namesake (a fan of making up sandwiches) would say so. Plus, the ham is saltier than turkey, which goes great with sweet medianoche bread and strawberry jam. 

Here’s our Luis Galindo rule: you come here on Thursdays, sit down at the long counter by the sandwich station, and order the ajiaco a la criolla. It’s a hearty Cuban soup with pork, yuca, malanga, platanos, and chunks of corn still on the cob. This ajiaco is a little thick, and unlike Colombian ajiaco, it doesn’t have any potatoes. We know this sounds counterintuitive, but it’s the perfect food to get you sweating and cooled down on a hot summer day. If it's not Thursday (the only day ajiaco is available), there’s no need to fiddle through their big laminated menu complete with jewelry exchange ads. You’re ordering the tamal en cazuela—a thick corn stew with braised pork.

It’s easy to walk by this Little Havana spot and assume it’s a grocery store—which it is—but just past the gum sticks, next to the wine aisle, you’ll find a small counter with a few tables. Here, you can listen to the beeps and boops of the checkout register while you eat ternilla—beef rib meat so tender it falls apart faster than the lies you tell yourself about how much you’ll accomplish this weekend. Our favorite place to sit is at the counter, where perched regulars discuss the possible causes of their sciatica. Not everything is great here. The vaca frita is so tough it feels like you’re chewing on cable wire. But the stewy ternilla de res is why you’re coming here. 

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

Suggested Reading

Versailles  review image

Little Havana’s Versailles is the most famous Cuban restaurant on the planet, but there are better Cuban restaurants in Miami.

The Best Elena Ruz In Miami guide image

Her legacy became a delicious sandwich. May we all be so lucky.

The Best Vaca Frita In Miami guide image

When we die, bury us underneath a pile of vaca frita. Specifically, these ones.

The Best Cuban Sandwiches In Miami  guide image

No one does a Cuban sandwich better than Miami—and here’s where you’ll find the best.

Infatuation Logo
2023 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store