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Naomi's Garden Restaurant & Lounge
Photograph: Courtesy Naomi's Garden Restaurant & Lounge

The best cheap eats in Miami

Find tasty dishes that’ll keep you and your wallet full at these spots, serving the best cheap eats in Miami

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Written by
Virginia Gil
&
Ryan Pfeffer
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October 2020: If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last few months of lockdown, it’s the value of great, inexpensive food. And we’re not talking about the many boxes of macaroni and cheese we’ve consumed either. The current crisis has given a renewed importance to affordability when it comes to dining out in Miami, whether it’s picking up a craveable sandwich in Little Havana or sitting down to a feel-good Caribbean feast in Little Haiti or tending to your hangover with a heaping rice bowl at your neighborhood restaurant. At Time Out, we’re committed to helping you find the best cheap eats in Miami and that means scoping the city for excellent food under $10. Below, our picks of the top affordable dishes to tuck into right now.

Where are all the cheap eats, Miami? You may very well have thought this to yourself while reluctantly handing over your credit card for one too many overpriced and underwhelming dishes. Miami has a rep for being an expensive city. We get it. Sometimes it’s deserved, like when you’re forking over $15 for a Bud Light at one of the best South Beach clubs or dropping some crazy dough on a date at one of the most romantic restaurants in Miami. But, rest assured, not all of us can afford to do that very often. So when it comes time to eat like a normal person, we turn to these places to feed us delicious food at prices that don’t require the bank account of a famous rapper. These are the heroes Miami stomachs deserve. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Miami

Best cheap eats in Miami

  • Restaurants
  • Vietnamese
  • Little River
  • price 1 of 4

The classic Vietnamese sandwich is executed to perfection at Tran An, but you won’t get charged extra for the gourmet quality. At $9, it’s a pretty massive sandwich stuffed with two kinds of house-made pork (pork roll and roasted), pâté, maggi butter, cucumbers and pickled slaw. It’s served on a crusty French baguette that’s soft but still sturdy enough to hold it all together to transport your sammy, say, somewhere like the beach.

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Little Gables

Its name translates to flying saucer, and you can bet Caja Caliente’s discos voladores are out of this world. The restaurant keeps theirs interesting, stuffing them with guava and cheese, lechón, vaca frita and other proteins. Once stuffed, these palm-sized, pressed sandwiches are grilled in a handheld contraption over a gas stove until they’re thin and the edges are crispy. Our favorite filling? The croqueta preparada with ham and cheese—like your favorite lunchtime sandwich only way better, plus it’s served with chef Mika León’s famous green sauce.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • West Little Havana
  • price 2 of 4

Tourists beeline to the Little Havana restaurant to taste it, and locals know to trust Versailles to make one of Miami’s best Cubanos. Built with superior-quality ingredients—sweet ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and just a squirt of yellow mustard—the traditional sandwich on Cuban bread is made fresh to order and served hot. Splurge on the special for an extra buck; it’s bigger and stuffed with more of the good stuff you like. 

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • East Little Havana
  • price 1 of 4

Sanguich’s emphasis on fresh, house-made ingredients has earned this Little Havana spot a well-deserved reputation as the creator of some of this city’s tastiest sandwiches. You’d be wise to try all five of the shop’s varieties but if you’re light on cash, the pan con lechón will satisfy with its shredded lechón, garlic cilantro aioli and pickled mojo onions. Got some extra cash? Pick up a bottle of Sanguich’s recently launched line of hot sauces to go.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • West Coconut Grove
  • price 1 of 4

Our only gripe with this Coconut Grove health food institution is its early closing time; the place caters to locals and the area’s nine-to-fivers. Still, it’s worth ditching work for a fresh green salad (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, sprouts, cucumber) topped with house-made chicken salad. It comes with your choice of green vinaigrette or herbal dressing. Pro tip: Order both, plus a few extras to stash at home.

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • price 1 of 4

What do President Obama and Guy Fieri have in common? They have both tried (and given a hearty thumbs up to) this famous frita. Ortelio Cardenas (El Mago) serves a ground-beef patty on a Cuban roll and piles it with shoestring fries, which are sliced so thin, they clump together and become a crunchy potato hash when fried. Even when you make it a double and add on a fried egg ($1.50), this hearty slider still registers under $10. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Haitian
  • Little Haiti / Lemon City
  • price 1 of 4

Most of the food this Little Haiti barbecue joint serves is well within the $10 mark but none stands out more than the zakos—a mashup of tacos and Haitian-spiced BBQ meats. The zoe-style tacos (available with chicken; griot, Haitian fried pork; brisket or fried fish) comes three to an order and each one is wrapped in a soft tortilla and topped with queso fresco, sour cream, cilantro and pickles. It’s the Mexi-Caribbean flavor explosion you didn’t know you needed.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • North Beach
  • price 2 of 4

Taquiza’s new taco boxes make bringing our favorite to the beach a breeze. Packed in a portable eco-friendly container, our version of an adult happy meal comes with two tacos (choice of pollo, carnitas, or rajas) on Taquiza’s signature, stone-ground blue masa tortillas, house-made blue corn chips and salsa, and half of an elote. While it’s meant to be enjoyed across the street from the restaurant, on the sand, we’re here to encourage you to break the unwritten rules and eat it anywhere you want.

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  • Restaurants
  • Haitian
  • Liberty City
  • price 1 of 4

You can feed a small army with just one of Naomi’s meat and twos. The Haitian menu is made for first-timers trying the cuisine, laying out the classics and letting folks pair their proteins with the sides of their choosing. Goat is a popular choice but you can’t go wrong with the baked chicken. For less than $10, Naomi hooks you up a traditional combo with a half chicken, a mound of peace and rice and collard greens. It’s a satisfying meal with guaranteed leftovers to do it all over again the next day.

The $9 kimchi crispy chicken sandwich at Seoul Chicken Miami
Photograph: Courtesy The Genuine Hospitality Group

10. The $9 kimchi crispy chicken sandwich at Seoul Chicken Miami

Harry’s Pizzeria is getting in on the pop-up game, and its new virtual Korean restaurant is one worth trying. Seoul Kitchen keeps it simple with a basic menu of roasted chicken, veggie sides and several bowls that bring both sides of the menu together. It’s all great but the fried chicken sandwich is the real star. It’s a beautiful, breaded mess sandwiched between a soft potato roll and topped with melted American cheese, avocado goddess dressing and kimchi. Don’t even think about sharing it.

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  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Wynwood
  • price 2 of 4

Not all drunk food needs to be eaten at 4am; some late-night meals are good enough to scarf down during the light of day, like the El Peppe slice at Pizza Tropical, Gramps’s walk-up window serving New York-style slices and pies. Crispy and thin, the oversize slice is topped with ribbons of real, fresh basil and crunchy pepperoni discs. While only open for takeout right now, the handy meal is the kind of thing you can grab and eat while exploring Wynwood’s vast graffiti landscape.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Midtown
  • price 2 of 4

You’ve probably seen these doughy spinach pies at your neighborhood Middle Eastern market, and mauve you’ve even had one. But did you know they could be stuffed? Carrot Express fills these suckers within an inch of their lives with house-made tuna salad, tomato and big slice of cheese. The hearty sandwich then gets toasted until the said cheese is all warm and gooey. Is it healthy? Maybe. Is it tasty and filling? You bet.

  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • West Miami
  • price 2 of 4

The West Miami shop has built a reputation on selling a diversity of great, cheap Spanish wine, but its tapas menu doesn’t fall far behind in value. Case in point: its selection of nine panini sandwiches offered at just $8. Choose from turkey with Swiss, and tomato and tuna, among others. The No. 1 with sliced Manchego cheese and cantimpalo-style chorizo is also number one in our heart. 

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  • Restaurants
  • South Beach
  • price 3 of 4

Slightly drunk at 2am? Already starving by noon? Sandwicherie is the place to fill up for cheap at all hours. All its regular sandwiches are under $10 and most of the signature ones are too. We’re partial to the SoBe club, the neighborhood’s namesake with turkey, brie and avocado. Order it on a croissant with everything and tell us a better sandwich doesn’t exist.

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Hialeah
  • price 1 of 4

If you can stuff it between two slices of Cuban bread, you can order it at this Hialeah cafeteria, which specializes in fresh juices ($2–$5) and sandwiches. Though of all the “pan con x” possibilities that are less than $5, the steak sandwich—fried top-round beef, shoestring potatoes, lettuce and tomato—is the sweetest deal. Come lunchtime, the place turns into a frenzy, so bring cash and prepare to practice your Spanish. 

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