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The best cheap food in Miami

Bring a big appetite: The best cheap food in Miami includes quality dishes for less than $10

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Gourmadj

Miami has steadily carved itself a reputation as a foodie town, with its Michelin-starred chefs and James Beard Award–recognized restaurants. Read: It’s an expensive place to eat. But look hard enough—past all those multicourse, triple-digit–priced menus—and you’ll find a smorgasbord of budget-friendly options more satisfying than many of those gourmet spreads—think Miami’s best Cubanos, oversize sandwiches and shareable bites from the Miami’s best bars. Save your Benjamins for a night out in South Beach, because these mouthwatering dishes won’t cost you more than a single Hamilton.

Best cheap food finds in Miami


Cubano at Versailles

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 from la plancha (“griddle”). $6.50

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West Little Havana

Mi Margherita slice at Pizza Tropical

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 Mi Margherita 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 basil (instead of the dried kind you’ll find in most places) and fresh mozzarella. Stop in during Gramps’s happy hour (Mon–Fri 4–7pm) for a $6 cocktail, and make a meal of it for less than $10. $3.75

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Panini at Happy Wine

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 11 panini sandwiches offered at just $7. 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 book. $7

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West Miami

Frita Cubana at El Mago de las Fritas

This isn’t just any sandwich; this is the Cuban hamburger President Obama, Guy Fieri and a handful of other big names journeyed to Miami to eat. Ortelio Cardenas (El Mago) serves a ground-beef patty (spiced with a secret seasoning) 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 with add-ons like a fried egg ($1.35), this hearty slider still registers under $6. $4

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Chicken salad at the Last Carrot

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 (or skipping weekend brunch) for a fresh green salad (lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, sprouts, cucumber) topped with house-made chicken salad (no fatty mayo here). It comes with your choice of green vinaigrette or herbal dressing. Pro tip: Order both, plus a few extras to stash at home. $7.95

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West Coconut Grove

Pierogi The Butcher Shop

While most bars serve you wings and nachos to pair with your beer, the Butcher Shop offers house-made pierogi. The tasty dumplings are stuffed with cheese and potato, pan seared and served four to an order with a drizzle of warm sour-cream sauce (you may want to ask your waiter for extra). Thick, gooey and filling, Butcher’s pierogi are the perfect snack or light meal—beer or no beer. $7

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New Mexico chili at LoKal

Most diners at Lokal go straight for the burger-and-beer combo, overlooking the “bites and sides” section of the menu, which features one of the most underrated starters in town: the New Mexico Chili. The tight-lipped owners won’t reveal the recipe, but we can tell you the bowl of beef chili (presumably made with the same high-quality stuff used for the restaurant’s grass-fed patties) is finished with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and diced onions and served with a side of warm tortilla chips—which doubles as spoons for the thick, scoopable chili. $6

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Coconut Grove

Shaved ice cream at Mr. Bing

Ice cream you can eat with a fork qualifies as a meal, right? The frozen treat is magically dispensed as paper-thin ribbons of ice cream (original, chocolate, coconut or taro) that you load with sprinkles, nuts and fruit, plus other add-ons like chocolate sauce and whipped cream. $6

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Pork and beans at Blue Collar

Nearly everything on the menu at Blue Collar is large enough to share, rendering most dishes “cheap” if you’re dining with someone who’s willing to split a meal. Though you can still find a Southern-style feast for one in the pork and beans “nosh” plate—a delicious misnomer served with smoky bacon, Berkshire sausage, white beans, a fried egg and a side of toast. $10

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Little Haiti / Lemon City

Arepa Churrasco Garden at Doggi's Arepa Bar

Venezuela’s famous sandwich—a crispy-on-the-outside, soft-and-chewy-on-the-inside corn-flour disk sliced open and stuffed—is generally cheap, but few places go as far as to include churrasco steak for less than $10. Lettuce, tomato and a house-made guasacaca sauce (a mix of citrus, parsley, garlic and chili peppers) make this a true handheld meal rather than a quick snack. $9.50

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Shenandoah / Silver Bluff
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