Look, before you yell at us, write emails, or throw tomatoes at our faces on the street, let us make one thing very clear - we really like Versailles. It’s not only a Miami institution, but also a very good restaurant. So put down that tomato and read all the nice things we have to say about it in our review.
It’s just that Versailles tends to dominate the conversation when it comes to Cuban food in Miami. But there are a lot of other great Cuban restaurants very worth your time, like the 11 spots on this guide. At these places, you’ll find great Cuban fusion, the best Cubano on the planet, and one of the few places with a dance floor we actually recommend eating at.
In a shopping complex out in West Kendall, next to a shoe repair store and a veterinarian, you’ll find Amelia’s 1931, a Cuban diner serving dishes we’ve never really seen before. This place isn’t as traditional as the slightly more famous Islas Canarias across the street - which was opened by the grandparents of Amelia’s chef - but it’s a great choice if you’re looking for something more than just a typical vaca frita. The best things to eat here are fusion dishes like chicharron-battered mozzarella sticks, pulled pork cheek bao buns with mojo, and Peruvian arroz con pollo fritters.
There are plenty of OK Cuban sandwiches around town, but the ones Sanguich de Miami makes are the only ones you should seek out like an excited labrador looking for its favorite tennis ball. Simply put, their Cubano is the best and it’s not even close. This small Calle Ocho shop serves five different sandwiches, and they’re all worth ordering eventually. But if it’s your first time here, start with the classic Cubano, which is layered with the perfect ratio of meat, cheese, pickles, and mustard before being brushed with pork fat and pressed until it’s the color of a beautiful mahogany desk.
Enriqueta’s is one of the best old-school Cuban spots in Miami. The casual restaurant is on the outskirts of Wynwood, sitting comically next to a high-rise apartment building that probably wasn’t able to successfully negotiate for Enriqueta’s lot. This is good news for us since we can still come here for a great and incredibly affordable breakfast consisting of some combination of eggs, ham, croquetas, and toast. If you don’t make it here until lunch, focus on the massive sandwich selection, featuring everything from a very solid pan con bistec to sandwiches with croquetas and tostones.
Whether you want to celebrate another year of your landlord not raising the rent or are just looking for a dinner that feels like a party, go to Cafe La Trova. Usually, you’d have to pick between a fun place that does live music or a restaurant that serves really good food, but Cafe La Trova nails both. Their cocktails are also fantastic and the bartenders will occasionally whip out a cowbell and start jamming along when the band plays “Quimbara.” The empanadas and croquetas are must-orders and you should stick around afterward for a drink in La Trova’s ’80s bar, which you can find in all its Miami Vice glory towards the back.
Tinta y Cafe is pretty much the most perfect casual lunch place that a hungry person in Coral Gables could ask for. This relaxing spot feels more like a very cool library than your average claustrophobic ventanita. The Cuban coffee is great and so is the food, which includes light breakfast plates, salads, and really tasty sandwiches - which is what you want to get here. The self-titled Tinta y Cafe sandwich is a safe choice and comes with pork, prosciutto, manchego, roasted peppers, and caramelized onions. We love it even though it comes on a baguette instead of your typical larded-up hunk of Cuban bread.
You are going to find something very good to eat at Chug’s, whether you want a big sandwich or something light and sweet. They do everything from a simple breakfast of eggs, toast, and potatoes to a very good duck confit medianoche. They walk a very tasty line here between traditional Cuban food and fun experimentation - like their daily pastelitos, which are stuffed with things like banana, lechon, and peanut butter and guava jelly (not all at the same time, thankfully). The casual restaurant is great for weekend brunch, a lazy lunch during work, or camping out with a frita and a beer while traffic dies down.
If the food at Doce Provisions was only OK, we’d still probably come here to hang out on their back patio, which is one of the best places to have a beer outside in all of Little Havana. Luckily the food is way more than that. Their arroz imperial is a sizzling bowl of rice and chicken buried underneath a blanket of cheese, which is our favorite kind of blanket. Order it if you’re here for dinner, and get some of the very good small plates too, like the charred brussels sprouts and vaca frita tostones.
Caja Caliente is the self-proclaimed inventor of the original Cuban taco, which is essentially just a seven-inch flour tortilla with generous portions of Cuban things like lechon and vaca frita. Both of those are good, though we prefer the crispy gator tacos, which taste like fish sticks and chicken fingers that got into a fight. Caja’s first brick-and-mortar location is in Coral Gables, and it’s a casual little space that feels somewhere between a tiki bar and a seafood shack.
The frita is one of the best things you can possibly eat in Miami, and El Rey de las Fritas is our favorite place to consume two and then immediately realize we should have just eaten one. El Rey does eight versions of the hamburger’s Miami cousin, and they range from the original (still probably the best choice) to the frita suprema with fried white cheese and sweet plantains, which is worth ordering at least once in your frita-eating lifetime. We’ll leave it up to you to find your ideal version of the frita here, as long as you promise to always pair it with a batido.
It’s kind of surprising that it took someone so long to dedicate an entire restaurant to croquetas, which are more common in Miami than invasive lizards and grandparents. Westchester’s Dos Croquetas decided to be the first with a menu that includes your usual croquetas alongside versions stuffed with buffalo chicken, cheeseburger, mac and cheese and bacon, and Mexican street corn. They also serve croquetas in bowl-form, which you can customize with things like guacamole, bacon, and a fried egg.