MIAGuide

The Best Restaurants In Little Havana

Our 21 favorite places to eat in and around Little Havana.

We all know you’ll find amazing Cuban food 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. If you only stick around there, chances are you’ll end up with a plate of stale rice and a very bad mojito.

The places on this guide will definitely steer you towards some of the best Cuban food in the city, but they also include great Thai, some incredible Mexican food, classic Salvadoran, and a lot more.


The Spots

Taqueria Viva Mexico is a great casual Mexican spot on Calle Ocho. The small restaurant has a bright blue exterior and colorful paper decorations hanging from the ceiling. The menu is pretty straightforward, with Mexican 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. 

Miami’s breweries are often where you can find some of the best food in the city, and this is very true of Union Beer Store. The Little Havana beer bar has a pop-up every day of the week, but one of our favorites is HaoChi (Peacock Ramen’s Saturday residency is also incredible). From 4pm till closing on Sunday through Wednesday (and Fridays), HaoChi takes over Union’s kitchen. They serve a rotating menu of outstanding dumplings and more, with options like edamame dumplings, dan dan noodles, and gyoza stuffed with beef, tallow, and peanuts. The menu rotates often, and there’s always a special or two to keep things interesting. But, no matter what they’re serving that day, this is the best food you can eat while sitting at a bar and watching old WWE matches. Or, you can grab a seat in their backyard patio and hang out with the local roosters.


La Camaronera is home to one of the single best things you can eat in Miami: 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 equally exceptional fried shrimp, conch, and lobster. This place also functions as a seafood market, so you can buy your own snappers and spend sleepless nights trying to recreate the pan con minuta at home.


Contrary to what the neighborhood’s name implies, Little Havana is also one of the best places to get Mexican food in Miami, and options extend beyond taquerias. 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—will make you rethink corn as being a savory-only thing. The tuna paleta made with water and cactus pear (tuna in Spanish) has a mild and fresh flavor that’s perfect on a hot day. The paleteria is located in a sort of Mexican variety store where you can pick up some basic ingredients as well as a limited selection of tacos and tortas. There are a few tables inside where you can enjoy your paletas, but there’s something satisfying about licking up a popsicle outside under the sun.


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—from the crunchy bread down to the homemade pickles and perfect amount of mustard. 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.


Pinolandia is one of Miami’s most iconic fritangas—a style of Nicaraguan fast-casual restaurant cherished by the whole city for its affordable food and huge bricks of fried cheese. 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 an ample parking lot next door exclusively for customers). That carne asada is the thing to get here. It has one of the tastiest marinades we’ve had at a fritanga, featuring a powerful hit of tangy/bitter Seville orange and umami from onions and garlic. Make sure to visit the adjacent general store to pick up a huge glass of a traditional homemade drink like tamarind with chia seeds or a rich beverage of milk blended with cacao seeds. Also be sure to grab a hunk of Nicaraguan-style cheese from the cooler or a baggie of cultured cream to take home for your next Taco Tuesday.


Lung Yai might just be the hardest table to get in Little Havana, especially on the weekend when waits can hit around two hours (you can order a beer while you wait on the sidewalk, though, which helps). Eating here is a bit of a mission because the tiny Thai restaurant doesn’t take reservations, has limited counter seating inside, and only allows you to order once. But despite the rules and obstacles and the fact that sitting inside can be a bit sweaty, this place is very worth the effort. For your troubles, you’ll get some of the best Thai food in the city, including a fantastic khao soi with crispy noodles, beautifully fried chicken wings, and more curries and noodle dishes that are tasty enough to justify everything you went through for your seat.


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 even remotely important to celebrate. There will be live (and loud) music, perfect cocktails, and some of the best empanadas in town. And having found all that under one roof seems like reason enough to celebrate.


You’ll find some of the best Mexican food in the entire city 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 are basically shrunken arepas 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.


Palace Cafe & Dairy is reminiscent of the old-school Dairy Queens with concrete tables outside, except that Palace Cafe serves Cuban and Dominican food, too. Located right down the street from where the Marlins play, this is a great place to grab a traditional Dominican breakfast of mangu (mashed plantains) with fried salami and eggs (which they serve all day) or a proper Cuban sandwich. But we love the old-school, nostalgic ice cream here even more. You can enjoy a scoop of unnaturally green pistachio ice cream or Barbie Dream House pink strawberry ice cream. Or you can share a banana split with friends on one of those tiled concrete tables under Palace’s awning.


There are almost as many places in Miami with fusion menus as there are with banana leaf wallpaper, but few of them pull it off as well as Doce Provisions. This mostly Cuban restaurant just off Calle Ocho does 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.


As the name implies, this incredibly bright Calle Ocho diner is home to the best fritas in Miami. They have eight versions of the Cuban hamburger here, which come with everything from a fried egg to plantains and fried cheese. But we prefer to keep it simple with the original: spiced meat, onions, a Cuban bun, and enough potato sticks to create a tiny replica of the Eiffel Tower.


What Versailles is to Miami’s Cuban community, El Atlacatl is to Miami’s Salvadoran community: an icon. El Salvador is famous for pupusas, which many historians believe originated in the country (Honduras disputes the claim), 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 an ideal locale for a romantic dinner or special occasion family meal. It serves country glam rancher-strikes-it-rich realness with chandeliers, royal blue accent walls, and flat-screen TVs in the hacienda-like space.


There’s a high likelihood of getting lost on the way to this colorful Spanish spot since it’s located on a backstreet along the Miami River you’d never drive down unless you live there. But Jamon Iberico Pata Negra—which is decorated with dramatic paintings of matadors (one of which appears to be fighting a marlin)—is worth hunting down. This place is a tad more expensive than your average casual tapas spot, so brace for that. But the food is very good. Start with the anchovies in vinegar and piquillos peppers filled with codfish. Then move onto one of the broken egg dishes or rices of the house, like the egg-crusted rice with scallops and shrimp. It’s big enough to feed about four people or one-and-a-half hungry dramatic matadors.


Ahi Sushi is right on the busiest part of Calle Ocho 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. The sashimi and nigiri are our favorite parts of the menu, and you should ask if the uni is available too. They also do an omakase for $110 per person, but it’s a little too informal and doesn’t quite live up to an experience you’d want to pay $110 for. Stick to the a la carte options and know that this place is BYOB, which you can very easily make happen by crossing the street and going to Union Beer Store.


At that weird junction where Calle Ocho becomes a one-way street is a storefront with the words “we make chocolate” painted on the stucco above it. That is exactly what happens at Exquisito—they actually grind cacao beans to make chocolate bars and other confections, and they’re the only ones who do this in South Florida. All of the chocolate bars are, as the name implies, exquisite. However, the Tumaco Milk made with Colombian beans, brown butter, unrefined cane sugar, and caramelized milk is nothing short of orgasmic. The toasty flavors of the milk and beurre noisette, along with molasses notes in the sugar, balance beautifully with the fruity and mild acidity of the Tumaco beans. The space is just large enough to have a retail wall, a small vitrine of bonbons, and a checkout counter among the sacks of cacao beans, so it’s more of a grab-and-go place. Parking can be difficult on SW 8th Street, but there’s more on-street parking around the corner on the side streets.


Yes, it’s the most famous Cuban restaurant in the country, but it’s also still one of the best places for Cuban food in Miami, which is is why Versailles’ dining room is always busy. If you’ve never been here, you might spend a good portion of your meal marveling at the small army of staff and the dining room’s excessive amount of mirrors. But if you, like many Miamians, grew up coming here, then you’re probably just excited for the croquetas, masitas de puerco, and flan.


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 here. 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 for under $4.


Los Pinarenos is a Calle Ocho institution, and a classic Cuban-style fruit stand specializing in Caribbean produce, including many fruits and vegetables grown by the owners. Los Pinarenos is also the place to grab some of the freshest juices in Little Havana. Despite the fact that every restaurant in Little Havana has one of those giant orange squeezing machines, Los Pinarenos’ freshly squeezed orange juice is the best. However, don’t leave without getting the guarapo. The sugar cane is pressed to order, and if you think sugar cane juice is just sugar water, think again. Los Pinarenos’ guarapo is complex, a bit grassy, and even slightly creamy—it’s sugar in its most natural state.


If you’re having trouble finding Azucar among the Calle Ocho sensory overload, just look for the giant ice cream cone sculpture. Directly below that, you’ll find this little scoop shop, where they serve some very Miami flavors. The Cuban coffee and Oreo is as good as it sounds, but the best thing here is the Abuela Maria that’s made with chunks of guava and Maria cookies. You can eat it under a giant painting of Celia Cruz while sitting on a bench made out of guayaberas, just in case you didn’t already know you were in Little Havana.


Though El Mago de las Fritas is kind of the archrival to El Rey de las Fritas, we believe this town is certainly 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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