The Best Restaurants In Little Havana

Our 17 favorite places to eat in and around Little Havana.
frita sandwich with meat potato sticks bread and spread

photo credit: Tasty Planet

We all know you’ll find amazing Cuban restaurants in Little Havana. But the neighborhood is also big and diverse and extends way beyond the part of Calle Ocho where the sidewalks are permanently clogged with tourists who can’t figure out how to light their cigars. The places on this guide will definitely steer you towards some of the best Cuban food in the city (specifically the best Cuban sandwich in Miami), but they also include great Thai, incredible Mexican food, classic Salvadoran, and a lot more.


photo credit: Emily Schindler


Little Havana

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A restaurant that feels like a party isn’t usually the kind of place we want to eat at, but Cafe La Trova is the best spot in Miami to have a big, loud, and fun dinner that actually tastes good. You should come to this very large Cuban restaurant if you have anything remotely important to celebrate. There will be live (and loud) music, perfect daiquiris, and some excellent empanadas. And having found all that under one roof seems like reason enough to celebrate.

We weren’t always this excited about Cuban sandwiches, especially after years of eating pretty average versions with cold cheese and pitifully thin ham. But then Sanguich De Miami came along with their excellent Cubano and now we think the city of Miami’s official slogan should just be a picture of this thing. This Calle Ocho shop nails every aspect of the Cuban sandwich. We would tell you to come here if it was the only thing they sold, but they also make other great sandwiches you should try eventually—especially the self-titled Sanguich de Miami, which is a delicious mash-up of a BLT, turkey sandwich, and a Cubano. Just know that lines can be long during tourist season.

photo credit: Virginia Otazo

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Palma is a tasting menu-only spot so thoughtful the team could blindly buy your mother-in-law the perfect birthday present. It's a rare tasting menu under $100 and changes every 10 to 15 days. But you can expect seven courses (and a palate cleanser) of local dishes, like steamed snapper with spigarello or steak tartare wrapped in a crunchy ribbon of radish. A silver spork is the weapon of choice for attacking a meticulously scored and seared squid in mushroom ragu with pepitas, ensuring no seed or sauce is left behind. And a mid-service bread course fills the empty room in your stomach after eating otherwise light and small portions. Plus, the dark, moody lighting makes it the ideal spot for a sexy night out.

The frita—a sort of Cuban burger—is one of those foods you'll only find in Miami. And this place still makes our favorite version in the city. The patty is a blend of beef and pork served with onions and papitas on Cuban bread. The fritas aren’t huge and only about $5 each, so you can easily order so many that you can no longer see the table you're sitting at. If you want something heartier, go with one of their souped-up fritas, which includes versions stuffed with maduros, queso frito, bacon, American cheese, and a fried egg. The Little Havana location is as unpretentious and efficient as a fast food joint, but it’s got way better food and the charm of a classic neighborhood diner.

Taqueria Viva Mexico is a casual Mexican spot with a pretty straightforward menu of dishes like sopes, gorditas, and some of Miami's best tacos. Stay away from the more common taco variations like carne asada or al pastor (which are just alright) and instead go for the less common (at least in Miami) versions like oreja, lengua, and tripe, which this place excels at. Taqueria works great for a casual meal, but the drinks are also tasty and affordable, so keep it in mind for a fun dinner before a night out. 

Caña Brava is a fritanga that feels a bit more formal than the other fritangas we’ve been to in Miami. It has a big, wood-accented dining room with Nicaraguan landmarks etched into the mirrored ceiling. They serve very good staples—carne asada, gallo pinto, and queso frito—but the real attraction is the huge variety of dishes you may not see at other fritangas, like achiote-rubbed pork cutlets, white rice, and rich Nicaraguan refried beans. They even have a selection of homemade sweets, including buñuelos—fried dough balls enriched with cheese and crema that are drowned in a caramel syrup.

You’ll find some of the best casual Mexican food in Miami at this spot on Calle Ocho, where piñatas hang from the ceiling and there’s almost always a crowd. They have solid tacos, but there are also more exciting things on the menu—like the gorditas, which you should order with pork. There’s plenty more on the incredibly large menu, and you should keep coming back until you’ve tried the bulk of it. Don't forget to check out the Mexican bakery in the back before you leave.

We usually go to La Camaronera for the pan con minuta. It’s a butterflied snapper filet that’s lightly fried and arranged in sandwich form with Cuban bread, onions, ketchup, and tartar sauce. The thought of anyone going their entire life without eating one is genuinely sad, so please visit this casual seafood spot and order this. And then come back to try the fried shrimp, conch, and lobster. This place is one of our favorite seafood restaurants in Miami, but also functions as a seafood market, so you can buy your own snapper and spend sleepless nights trying to recreate the pan con minuta at home.

La Michoacana offers some of the best paletas in town. And we’re not talking about the ones stuffed with Nutella and bruleed with a miniature flame-thrower. La Michoacana serves up traditional Mexican-style popsicles in water-based (lighter) and milk-based (richer) options—and La Michoacana has a lot of options. The elote paleta, a popsicle made with milk and sweet corn, is our personal favorite. They also have pantry items and a limited selection of tacos and tortas. There are a few tables inside, but it's mostly to-go.

Pinolandia is one of Miami’s most iconic fritangas. Customers line up in front of a cafeteria-style steam counter and pick the items they want. There are a few picnic-style tables in a paved courtyard in front of the restaurant, but it’s also perfectly acceptable to tear into your carne asada while hunched over the hood of your car (there’s a parking lot next door exclusively for customers). That carne asada is the thing to get here, and it has one of the tastiest marinades we’ve had at a fritanga. Make sure to visit the adjacent general store to pick up a traditional homemade drink like tamarind with chia seeds.

Lung Yai can get slammed on busy weekend nights. But at least you can order a beer while you wait on the sidewalk. Eating here is a bit of a mission because the tiny Thai restaurant doesn’t take reservations and only allows you to order once. But for your troubles, you’ll get some really solid Thai food (in the neighborhood where you'd least expect it). They've got staples like khao soi, beautifully fried chicken wings, and more curries and noodle dishes.

Ahi Sushi is the sister restaurant of Lung Yai and only about the size of a very nice walk-in closet. The sushi counter can seat about six to eight comfortably, and their small a la carte menu has really good rolls, nigiri, and sashimi. They also do one of Miami's best omakase dinners that's a refreshingly casual experience. Also, this place is BYOB (with $20 corkage), which you can very easily make happen by crossing the street and going to Union Beer Store for some beer or wine.

La Carreta is Versailles’ less famous sister restaurant—but the food is actually much better here. 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. 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. 

There are almost as many places in Miami with fusion menus as there are with banana leaf wallpaper, but Doce Provisions pulls it off. This mostly Cuban restaurant just off Calle Ocho does dishes like shrimp po’boy tacos and fried chicken just as good as their more straightforward dishes—like the great Cuban sandwich or the arroz imperial, a skillet of rice and chicken thigh underneath a hot layer of cheese you should really let cool off before you put in your mouth. Whatever you decide to order, eat it on Doce’s back patio, which is a lovely little alley with string lights, a mural, and some vegetation.

El Salvador is famous for pupusas, and El Atlacatl serves some of Miami’s best. The pupusas here have impossibly thin crusts of crisp nixtamalized corn masa and rich fillings inside. The loroco and cheese, a meatless option, is stuffed with loroco flower buds that taste like mild asparagus. The meatier chicharrón option features fried pork belly that gets braised in a tangy tomato-based sauce. Besides the great pupusas, the ambiance makes it ideal for a family meal. It's got chandeliers, royal blue accent walls, and flat-screen TVs in a hacienda-like space.

Fatair Al Basha is right on the eastern tip of Calle Ocho where Brickell turns into Little Havana. It’s not a spot with a lot of foot traffic, but this little Lebanese market is worth pulling over for if you’re even remotely in the mood for shawarma, shish kebabs, falafel, or any of the other Middle Eastern dishes they do really well. We like the kibbe platter (which you should get with a side of hummus and Lebanese rice), but they also do a great “Lebanese pizza” sprinkled with zaatar and vegetables.

Though El Mago De Las Fritas is kind of the archrival to El Rey De Las Fritas, we believe this town is big enough for two frita slingers. And while we prefer El Rey’s versions (primarily thanks to their wonderfully excessive use of potato sticks), you should still check out El Mago to decide which version you side with. Plus, El Mago does have El Rey beat when it comes to flan, and it’s worth coming here just for that alone.

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