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Tran An
Photograph: Ruben Cabrera

The absolute best cheap eats in Miami

Everything on this list of wallet-friendly Miami food hovers around $10, and it's all damn good, too.

Written by
Virginia Gil
&
Eric Barton
Contributor
Ryan Pfeffer
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Inflation sucks. So much so that several dishes on this list saw hefty price increases or had to be cut entirely. It’s understandable: Restaurants already operate on razor-thin margins, and this wild economy hasn't helped. Luckily, we’ve still got a whole lot of delicious dishes in Miami that clock in at $10 or just a few cents over. These aren’t the sort of cheap eats we’d avoid mentioning to our friends—there will be no items with “supreme” in the name, Crunchwrap or otherwise. Instead, we’ve assembled not just some of the city’s most affordable food, but also some of its most objectively delicious food, including a few of the best sandwiches in Miami. And we promise you won’t have to wait in line at a drive-through to get it.

RECOMMENDED: A definitive guide to the best pizza in Miami

Best cheap eats in Miami

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • price 1 of 4

What do President Obama and Guy Fieri have in common besides a silvery head of hair? They have both tried (and given a hearty thumbs up to) this famous frita. Ortelio Cardenas, aka 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.

  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Coconut Grove
  • price 2 of 4

The fact that the city’s best diner has a dish that’ll cost you just 10 bucks is downright shocking. The fact that it’s also one of the best breakfast plates in town, well that’s revolutionary. The plate is exactly what any hungry Miami chef would want before a shift: three eggs, herbs and white rice, all spiced with Sazon Completa, just like everyone’s abuela used to do.

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  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Park West
  • price 2 of 4

The Sicilian-style square slices at Eleventh Street are big enough to fill a damn plate, with tons of ingredients crammed onto perfectly puffed dough. And the ingredients here are top-notch: This slice comes with organic Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, roasted red onion, Calabrian chili paste, hot honey and a generous dotting of pepperonis that have crisped up in the oven to become glorious, crunchy little cups.

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Little Gables

Translated to flying saucer, discos voladores are like round medianoche sandwiches smash-griddled until the cheese, meat and sauce drip out and crisp up along the edges. The menu also includes discos of ham, cheese, roasted pork, ropa vieja, prosciutto and goat cheese, and a dessert number with guava and cheese. But you have to try the magical disco stuffed with deep-fried ham croquetas and cheese, served with chef Mika León’s famous green sauce.

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

The pho and Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are reason enough to come to Tran An, although they clock in just above our cheap-eats cutoff. Granted, the bowls at Tran An do ring in a half-buck above our cutoff, but you’ll figure it’s worth the extra 50 cents for massive bowls of fresh veg and herbs—choose between broken rice, cold vermicelli noodles or hot mixed noodles.

  • 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. The medianoche is basically a Cubano (city ham, lechon, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard), but sub in a sweet bread that gives it a depth to match all that richness.

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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.

  • 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.

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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—6pm most days and 4:30 on Sundays (basically brunch in Miami). 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 a 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.

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

Not all drunk food needs to be eaten at four in the morning; some late-night meals are good enough to scarf down during the light of day, like the El Peppe slice at Pizza Tropical, Gramps’ 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. The handy meal is the kind of thing you can grab and eat in between exploring Wynwood’s vast graffiti landscape.

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  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Midtown
  • price 2 of 4

Millennials took a lot of grief from boomers over spending mortgage money on putting avocado on toast. But the reason trust funds went empty due to this dish is that it’s good (also because it’s so damn photo-worthy). Carrot Express does a fine version for the kind of dough that won’t clear out your bank account, with smashed avocado, crumbled feta, and red pepper flakes on sourdough toasted until it’s crispy.

  • Restaurants
  • South Beach
  • price 3 of 4

Slightly drunk at 2am? Already starving by noon? Sandwicherie is the place to fill up on the cheap at all hours. Most of its regular subs clock in under $10, including the stellar combo of turkey and brie, dressed up however you want it. At La Sandwicherie, that includes just about any veggie you can imagine, right down to gherkin pickles and, of course, lots of magic sauce.

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  • 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 ($3–$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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