There are certain Miami restaurants you have to check out if only to put everything else in perspective. Any mission involving Cuban food should start with a trip to Versailles. Same with all things bread and Zak the Baker or seafood and La Camaronera. And if you want to have a conversation about Haitian food, you start at Chef Creole, where you can find our favorite Haitian food in town.
There are currently five Chef Creole locations in South Florida - including one inside the Miami airport - but our favorite is in Little Haiti, because it’s the best one to actually sit down and eat at. If you don’t want to do that, you can walk right up to the register and order your food to-go, but if it’s a nice day, go ahead and sit at the outdoor shack right next door for table service. The roof is made of palm fronds and it’s the kind of wooden, open-air space that makes you feel like you’ve teleported to a very tasty island somewhere in the Caribbean.
Chef Creole has a lot of things on the menu that aren’t strictly Haitian - like buffalo wings, ribs, and fried shrimp - but the Haitian specialties are why we keep finding excuses to take NW 2nd Ave. around lunchtime. The oxtail is some of the best in the city - incredibly tender, rich, and best eaten with your hands and excessive amounts of slurping. Their griot, which is basically fried chunks of pork, is also very solid. The pork is nice and crunchy on the outside but perfectly falls apart once you slice it open. Chef Creole does a lot of seafood too, like the stew conch that comes in a dark brown broth with onions and strips of chewy conch, and it’s one of the only stews we find ourselves craving when it’s 90 degrees outside.
Everything here is served in styrofoam containers, which makes people think of this place as more of a to-go option, but do yourself a favor and sit down to have a proper meal here. Crack into an oxtail or two and drink a Prestige, a Haitian beer that goes wonderfully with whatever you order. Haitian food in this city doesn’t end at Chef Creole, but it’s definitely a great starting point.
If you’re in the mood for wings, the jerk is the way to go - but it feels like a missed opportunity to come here and only walk away with some pretty good wings.
The conch is chewy and flavored from the very good broth. Some raw onions are sprinkled on top add a crunch like crackers normally would. It’s the kind of stew you’ll end up drinking like coffee.
Don’t be afraid to get into this with your hands. Oxtail is meant to be licked, slurped, and cracked open - and it’s good enough that you won’t regret being covered in meat juices in the slightest.
You can judge a Haitian spot by its griot - if they nail these cubes of fried pork, you can assume everything else is going to be tasty. Call it the griot test. And Chef Creole passes with flying colors.
The fish filet comes in fried strips with a creamy dipping sauce and kind of reminds us of eating chicken nuggets, which is absolutely not a bad thing.