Cuban food in Miami goes hand in hand the same way hot dogs at a baseball park do. With such a short distance between Miami and the island of Cuba, the Cuban influence on Miami culture continues to grow, most evidently in its culinary offerings. Cuban coffee, fried plantains, Cuban sandwiches made with braised pork and more can be found in the city, and there’s quite a bit of competition among the local restaurant owners. Here are five Cuban restaurants that dish out that taste of Latin flair that Miami residents continue to expect and that often surprise visitors because of their true Cuban authenticity.
Versailles Restaurant, located in Little Havana, has been crafting authentic Cuban fare for more than 40 years. The restaurant’s menu features a traditional Cuban sandwich, made with sweet ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles, served on toasted Cuban bread. Open all hours of the day and night, Versailles draws all types of customers, from the local, older men sipping Cuban coffee in the morning to the post-nightclub crowd fiending for a late-night nosh. Customers can step up to the take-out window for a quick Cuban fix.
Located in partying South Beach, Puerto Sagua can get very crowded, but it’s well worth the wait. Guests will want to grab a stool and start their meal off with the croqueta con jamon, a lightly breaded and fried fritter filled with chunks of ham and cheese. The filete salteado, strips of beef tenderloin sautéed with peppers and a special sauce is equally delicious. The seafood casseroles, served with rice and salad, add an additional Latin flare to the menu.
Havana 1957 stays true to its name by taking customers back to 1950s Cuba, with traditional Cuban music, vintage memorabilia and authentic Cuban cuisine in a diner setting. The restaurant’s specialty is a family chicken recipe, served in a spicy Cuban gravy with white rice, black beans salad and sweet plantains. The restaurant’s Cuban Rum bar features more than 70 varieties of rum for guest to enjoy in a mojito cocktail or with Coke. Live music also entertains guests several nights a week.
When customers step inside Mojitos Restaurant, it’s like they’re stepping inside a traditional Cuban home. The colonial-style building features Cuban tile floors, stained glass windows, hand stenciled rails and a mosaic fountain, all of which bring vibrant hues of yellow and blue to the restaurant’s interior. While the Palomilla steak and shrimp Creole are delicious main dishes to try, the desserts such as arroz con leche (rice pudding) or flan de queso (cheese custard) are something all customers must try. After dinner, guests can dance the salsa or mambo to the in-house band, Mojito Son.
Las Olas Café, located in Miami Beach, is a laidback local favorite, famous for its Cuban sandwiches and empanadas, as well as all-day breakfast. Customers often step in for a quick bite or even just a quick drink. The café is especially known for its strong Cuban coffee as well as its freshly squeezed watermelon juice. The pulled pork and potatoes is another local favorite. Reasonably priced at $7, there’s little wonder why visitors and locals make the trip.