Miami has a very strong Cuban influence.
Though you can find food from many different regions, like Mexican or Italian, Cuban is the most common in South Beach. We made sure to eat Cuban food at least once every day during our trip because it was that good! Here is a guide to some of our favourites:
One of our favourite places was the first place we ate, Playa Cafe. They didn’t speak much English there, so right off the bat that was a good sign. It is a tiny little restaurant with hardly any seating. You walk in and are not sure what you are supposed to do or how to order. The women behind the counter handed us a menu and we sat right in front of them as they made the food.
We were excited to try a famous Cuban sandwich. And it didn’t disappoint! The bun was a long, flat light white bread. Inside was tender pulled pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and yellow mustard. The whole sandwich is put on a flat griddle to toast the outside and cook the inside. When they serve it to you, they top it with matchstick potatoes as a perfect crunchy and salty compliment.
The other sandwich we had to try was the Medianoche, or “midnight” sandwich. The main difference is the bread which is a sweeter egg style bun. Both were equally delicious. Louise preferred the medianoche as the bread was softer and sweeter. One person we sat next to said he comes down from New York just to get a good Cubano.
To drink we ordered a guava batido and mango batido, both made with milk. Delicious.
We love going to the local food places and Las Olas was perfectly that. They also didn’t speak much English at this restaurant so we used the universal sign language of “point, smile, and nod your head”. It’s cafeteria style so choose a meat, side, and rice or veggies.
We chose fried fish, fried plantains and rice. Louise raved about the rice from there. It was lightly buttered or oiled, and was sweet and lightly herbed. The fish was also fresh and fried perfectly. And the plantains were a nice sweet addition to the salty fish.
Louise had to have a Cuban iced coffee to go with our meal. I chose an Inca Kola which I will choose anytime it’s available at a Latin restaurant.
Las Olas is a good choice if you are looking for a quick and inexpensive meal.
Louise’s sweet tooth took us to Charlotte Bakery, just outside the main strip. They had so many different types of pastries, but Louise kept picking all the dulce de leche flavoured ones. She said it reminded her of being in South America again.
They were all very delicious but one that stood out was the tres leches cake. Louise couldn’t get enough of the dulce de leche that we went back there 3 days in a row to get more pastries, and Cuban iced coffee.
They also have arepas and empanadas if you are looking for a savory option.
Outside of South Beach we went to El Mago de las Fritas located on Calle Ocho in the heart of Little Havana. This is a Cuban hamburger shop that President Obama visited while in Miami. These hamburgers were so good I had to replicate it at home, but still wasn’t even comparable.
The bun is a light white bread that they toast on the griddle. Between the light crispy bun is this spicy chorizo hamburger that is topped with a handful of fried onions and drizzled with a hot sauce that I could have drank straight. I upgraded mine with an over easy fried egg. It was very messy, but what great hamburger isn’t!
To wash this deliciousness down, we ordered a guanabana batido (guava milk shake) which I really enjoyed. Louise had to have a colada (Cuban espresso) and two desserts, dulce de leche and flan!
We visited this little hole-in-the wall twice during our stay in downtown Miami (we were staying at the YVE hotel a block away). It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it is great for when you are wanting some quick and cheap local Cuban food!
It is open 24 hours, so we came here after a Miami Heat game and the next morning for some breakfast.
The medianoche sandwich was yummy, although not the best one we had in Miami. The fresh orange juice was great and so was the cortadito and colada. The guava pastries were also good. Everything is pretty inexpensive. For breakfast we had a cortadito and colada and 2 guava pastries for $5.
If you have any other Cuban favourites in Miami, please let us know in the comments below!
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