MIAGuide

Where To Eat When You're Running Late

Because of course you are.

Welcome to Miami, where (in case you haven’t noticed) we literally never show up on time to anything. This very Miami cultural trait can lead to some desperate moments when we’re starving and somehow convinced ourselves that it’s possible to get from Kendall to South Beach in 15 minutes. But instead of ending up at the dreaded drive-thru or swerving into the nearest Cuban bakery, try some of these options. They’re all places with ready-to-eat takeout dishes, speedy cafeteria-style service, or bakeries where you can just point to something that looks golden brown and delicious. We tried to pretend we were in a very impatient mood when we visited these places, so you can be sure that you can get your food quickly and without much fuss, at least by Miami standards.

THE SPOTS

This small North Miami Chinese bakery has just enough space for a display case full of delicious things like curry beef puffs, egg custard tarts, and some of the best barbecue pork buns in Miami. Everything is ready to eat as soon as you pay for it, and the savory buns are kept warm all day, just for your extremely late and hungry ass. The barbecue pork buns and curry beef buns should absolutely be coming home with you, but feel free to order anything that looks tasty—chances are it is. There usually isn’t a line either, meaning you can stay true to the promise that you’re “only five minutes away.”


Maybe you accidentally stayed at the beach 45 minutes longer than planned. In your defense, it was a gorgeous day. But nonetheless, you now have to move like Usain Bolt in order to meet your spouse’s parents at the unreasonably early hour of 6pm. So just make a quick pit stop at Buon Pane, a super casual and very small Italian bakery in South Beach that has a counter full of freshly baked Italian food. Most of that stuff is ready to eat, including the rotating selection of sweet pastries and our favorite thing to get here: the panzerotti. Buon Pane’s versions are like little Italian hot pockets that can fit in one hand, and while the fillings change, they’re all excellent. They can heat them up for you in under a minute too.


This is one of our favorite fritangas in Miami. We typically end up here after a night of drinking, since it’s open 24 hours and constantly churns out freshly grilled carne asada. However, it’s also a great option during the day when you’re craving meat, rice, and fried cheese in a styrofoam container. The line can sometimes be long during peak lunch and dinner hours, though it does move steadily. The good thing is that once you pay for your food, you can immediately sprint to the car. If you have an extra 90 seconds, step into the little market to grab yourself a cacao milk or pineapple and rice punch. You’re already going to be late anyway.


We love the fresh-to-order miga sandwiches here, but we understand if you have negative seven minutes to wait around for food thanks to your 15 indecisive outfit changes. Fortunately, this Argentine and Uruguayan bakery in North Miami Beach has display cases filled with snacks, pastries stuffed with sticky dulce de leche, and empanadas that are ready to eat. If you have a couple of minutes to wait, let them heat up your empanadas—they’ll be that much better. Otherwise, just enjoy them at room temperature, which is a fair punishment for your chronic tardiness.


You’ve got a few speedy options at this Middle Eastern cafeteria/market in Coconut Grove—as long as you avoid the weekday lunch crowd. There are pita wraps for $10 or less with beef shawarma, lamb kafta, grilled chicken, and more. Or you can get one of the platters with falafel or kibbe—and if you do, you will probably not be able to see the plate under all that hummus, tabouli, and whatever else you ask them to throw on. Like lots of spots on this guide, it's all served in a cafeteria-style assembly line, and works great for both takeout or a quick dine-in meal. 


Manila Kantina is a small Filipino restaurant and grocer in Downtown where you can sit and eat a selection of tasty dishes. It's all buffet-style too (and for just $12 per person), which means you can serve yourself as fast as your little hands will allow. Options include chicken adobo, dinuguan (pork blood stew), chop suey, lechon kawali, fried lumpia, pinakbet (stewed vegetables), and more. It’s all great, and it's also worth coming back here when you're not in a frantic rush so you can browse the shelves to take home Filipino pantry staples like pancit noodles, bagoong jars, and bibingka mixes.


Matryoshka is an Eastern European market and deli in Sunny Isles. It's small, but still has some interesting finds—like Ukrainian beer, an impressive selection of cured meats, and bags of frozen perogies. You can also grab lunch here. Find something good from the cafeteria-style deli (which has duck legs, beef stroganoff, and farmer’s cheese pancakes) and eat it outside after you’ve done your shopping. Or grab a savory pastry, like a piroshki, and an imported soda (we love the tarragon flavor) and eat it in the car while you think of a valid excuse for why you showed up two hours late.


This small bakery just west of North Miami on 441 has our favorite Haitian patties in Miami. The thin puff pastry is so fragile that it comes apart in delicate shards as soon as you go in for a bite. The spicy beef filling provides a little wake-up jolt, while the rich, buttery layers of pastry will keep you satisfied until your next meal. Family Bakery can only accommodate about two people at a time, and on weekday mornings you’ll regularly see the overflow of customers forming a line into the parking lot. The same line forms again right after work with people buying loaves of bread for dinner. So just avoid those times, and you’ll be in and out in minutes.


You're kind of screwed if you're trying to do anything in Wynwood in an efficient, timely manner these days. But if you want a fast meal that won't make you sad, go to Ono Poke. The fish here is high quality (you can do tuna or salmon) and they limit the topping options to only the essentials. They build your bowl in a little assembly line, so things generally move quickly. And they have a handful of tasty menu options, so you don't have to waste time trying to make decisions building your own custom bowl. The space itself is small, very casual, and good for takeout. There are also a few tables inside if you want to sit and eat and think about the decisions that led you to being the late person you are today.


Naomi’s Garden is a classic Little Haiti spot with some of the best Haitian and Caribbean food in Miami. They serve oxtail, whole fried snapper, jerk chicken, and a lot of vegetarian and vegan options that come in very big portions. It’s all served out of a steam counter cafeteria-style, so there’s no waiting around. If you’re really running late, you can even order your food ahead and pay for it online so it’ll be ready for you when you arrive. If you have just a little time to sit and eat, go around the corner to the garden for one of the best hidden patios in Miami.


Much like croquetas, pikliz, and late-night queso frito—tequeños are an essential part of Miami food culture. And not only do these dough-wrapped Venezuelan cheese sticks blow mozzarella sticks out of the water, but you can eat them in the passenger seat of your friend’s car, who is very pissed at you for taking so long. If that’s the case, share one with them, because Tequeñomania has some of the best cheese tequeños in Miami, as well as dozens more options. Our favorite is filled with carne mechada (similar to ropa vieja) and gouda, and it reminds us of a much-improved version of those taquitos you find at gas stations. Tequeñomania has many options ready to grab and go, but you can also ask them to prepare a few fresh for you and eat it inside.


There are so many great things to eat at this Portuguese bakery. And many of them are waiting in display cases, ready to eat. You’ll find overstuffed ham cachitos along with fried codfish balls, meat rissoles, and buttery egg custard tarts. They even stock some imported Portuguese soft drinks and mineral water, and they have dispensers full of freshly made juices, like the madeira made with pineapple and mint.


Collins Pizza is a simple slice shop in North Beach that makes the closest thing to a classic New York slice in...maybe the whole city? They use a slowly fermented dough (72 hours, in case you were curious), which gives the crust a great flavor. We really like their pepperoni and vodka pie. You can get both as whole pies, but they also sell by the slice here. And this is thankfully not one of those Miami Beach spots so overcrowded with tourists that it’ll take 45 minutes to get your single cheese slice.

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