Talk to literally anyone from Miami – your local afilador, the neighborhood rooster that serves as your alarm clock, or the elderly gentleman roaming South Beach in a neon pink thong – and they’ll give you a strong opinion about who makes the best croquetas. That opinion, however, is probably based on one flavor/variety in particular – jamon. But here, we wanted to focus on the more unique croquetas around the city. Each of these have flavor and ingredient combinations that aren’t available on every corner. Oh, and they’re all really, really good, too. Here are our nine favorites.
Chug’s short rib croqueta was the spark to the guide you are now reading. We remember having one of these beefy, savory treats on a walk through Coconut Grove and naively thinking, “Wow, why aren’t there more non-traditional fillings in croquetas?” quickly followed by, “If we sold our watch right now, how many more of these could we buy?” Thankfully, there wasn’t a pawn shop in our immediate eye line, and we’ve been able to eat many more without selling our possessions. These delicious croquetas also led us to try Ariete’s (Chug’s high-end cousin) wagyu short rib, one of the best dishes in Miami. Chug’s recently re-opened after some serious renovations too, and now works great for both some to-go croquetas and a nice sit-down dinner.
Masa Craft Kitchen
Why did it take so long for Texas barbecue to meet the Cuban protein bar? We’re not sure, but we’re glad that Masa Craft and Farmhouse BBQ – located in M.I.A Beer Company and Beat Culture Brewery, respectively – helped us all make up for lost time with their brisket croqueta. Stuffing a croqueta with smoked brisket would be amazing on its own, but this duo decided to go the extra mile, adding applewood smoked bacon, white wine-sauteed mushrooms, and truffle oil. It’s a savory symphony that you can appreciate without being a french horn enthusiast.
If you have indecisive tendencies, choosing an empanada at Empanada Harry’s can instantly turn you into Larry David, muttering to yourself as you vacillate from the pabellon to the chipotle chicken to the philly cheese steak to the… you get the idea. But when it comes to the Kendall bakery’s chorizo español croqueta, let us make the decision easy on you: get one (or four). It’s filled with Spanish chorizo that’s mixed into a creamy bechamel sauce, with hints of roasted red pepper and oregano. Only available select weekends, give them a call to make sure you can get your hands on one.
Home to some of the best pastrami in the city, Kush by Stephen’s in Hialeah had the brilliant and very Miami idea to stuff that meat inside a croqueta. Was it as significant as Einstein positing that E = mc2? Well, we’re not here to comment on that, but what we can say is that the Russian-esque dressing that is served as a dipping sauce is a perfect complement, enhancing rather than overpowering this croqueta’s great flavor.
If you’re headed to Babe’s Meat & Counter in Palmetto Bay, odds are you’re going for their outstanding meat selection, homemade sausages, or excellent sandwiches. Completely understandable. But if you’ve seen their croquetas and always said to yourself, “Maybe I’ll try one next time,” then we’re here to jiggle your face like Adam Sandler does to his third-grade classmate in Billy Madison and repeatedly whisper, “Get one.” Golf-ball sized, these croquetas are made using a bechamel base that includes bacon bits rendered from their slab bacon trim. And yes, they’re exactly as good as they sound.
Known for its creative flavor combinations, Dos Croquetas in Westchester has been a hit since it began delivering back in 2015. While there are several different options we like here, the standout is their medianoche, which is served with homemade mojo aioli. The slightly sweet ham, savory pork, and mild swiss are perfectly cut through by an assertive pickle, which is our favorite kind of pickle. It’s purely wonderful, like finding $20 in the pocket of some pants you haven’t worn in three years.
There’s an argument to be made that Tinta y Café has the best croquetas in the city. While we’re not here to debate that, we will advocate that you grab their spinach version with a café con leche the next time you’re in Coral Gables or Miami Shores. Even sans cheese, it’s still somehow both creamy and rich, mimicking the silky consistency of the ideal jamon croqueta. We like to pair it with a madurito sandwich and have a feeling you will, too. You can also compliment yourself for eating your greens today, even if they arrived inside a croqueta.
What do you get when you mix a crab cake and a croqueta? The sound of angels getting their wings, but also Caja Caliente’s jaiba (blue crab) croqueta. Only available at their Coral Gables location, these croquetas aren’t your standard oblong tube shape, instead resembling small ping pong balls. Inside they’re filled with a spicy crab that goes nicely with a squeeze of lime. Looking back, we did find ourselves wanting a dipping sauce for these, but they were gone before we could fully formulate that thought.
Located in Westchester and Hialeah, Breadman Bakery’s maiz y queso croqueta instantly transported us to the arepa carts outside of Marlins Stadium. Although we’re still bitter that the best player the Fish got back for Miguel Cabrera was Burke Badenhop, those arepas never fail to put us in a better mood than the Marlins ever could. And such was the case with this croqueta, where the sweet corn flavor is balanced out by all the milky cheese. It’s a truly great mixture that we’re thankful Breadman decided to fry for the masses.