When it comes finding a great authentic Cuban restaurant, Miami and its Little Havana neighborhood offer the real deal. The city’s large Cuban population has made Miami a Mecca of Cuban dining (some of the best restaurants in Miami serve Cubanos!), with local spots like Puerto Sagua serving up regional favorites, Wynwood hotspot Enriqueta’s selling killer sandwiches and millennial-friendly places like Sergio’s offering low-cal versions of traditional Cuban fare. And what’s the number one Cuban restaurant has to offer? Read on to find out.
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Best Cuban restaurants in Miami
Almost as famous locally as its palatial namesake is in France, Versailles is a kitschy Cuban diner with wall-to-wall mirrors, a constant buzz and an unabridged menu featuring every dish ever cataloged as Cuban. The Little Havana institution is also the unofficial meeting place for the city’s Cuban community during times of political unrest.
Wynwood’s only Cuban restaurant has found its niche, catering to hipsters and out-of-towners with inexpensive sandwiches made with buttery Cuban bread that are piled high with pork, croquettes and all sorts of fillings. The steak sandwich and frita (Cuban hamburger) are perennial favorites. Lunch specials are generous and appealing, but not as tempting as stopping by the walk-up window for an afternoon cortadito.
This Cuban chain offers large doses of the usual local nostalgia for Batista-era Cuba. You can’t miss the massive sugarcane plants growing on the front lawn. Expect large portions on the plates and a backroom café for strong Cuban coffee, sweet pastries and sugarcane juice. Though most of the ordering happens at the walk-up coffee window, serving up flaky pastelitosand espressos until the wee hours.
For those looking to ease into Cuban cuisine, Havana Harry’s offers a palatable introduction with a menu that mixes Latin American, Cuban and Spanish influences. You’ll find more salads and ceviches here, as well as the typical Caribbean favorites—from vaca fritato steak sandwiches. Havana Harry’s feels a little more upscale than most Cuban joints, which skew more cafeteria than restaurant, adding to its popularity as a destination for celebrations and weekend dinners.
When your taste buds crave Cuban but your scale says salad, Sergio’s skinny girl menu, dubbed La Flaca, is the answer. Think low-carb cauliflower rice, turkey ground beef and healthy salads as a welcomed alternative to calorie-laden Cuban staples. The bilingual menu, dog-friendly patio and late-night service make this a favorite among younger crowds.
If a Cuban Rat Pack ever existed and were around today, this is where they’d convene and linger over mojitos and arroz con pollo. It’s been “World Famous Since 1970,” in part for its upscale service and festive ambiance made all the livelier by the resident pianist. Complicated preparations, the kind grandmothers pour over for hours, make the dishes feel special too. Lobster thermidor, oxtail and crab-stuffed snapper? All for the taking.
Islas Canarias, a dining staple in Miami for more than three decades, is loved as much for its crispy ham croquettes—voted among the best in the city—as it is for its wide-ranging menu. The food is inexpensive, the dining room inviting and the service authentically Latin—warm, welcoming and at times even affectionate. It’s that warmth and the solid ropa vieja (stewed beef) that keep diners coming back after all these years.
With several locations around Miami, this modest, open-air cafeteria keeps the city satiated with giant portions of Cuban favorites. These “completes” as they’re known—Styrofoam containers piled high with everything from rice and black beans, yucca and fried plantains to pulled pork and stewed meats. Defaulting to to-go containers makes sense here given the less-than-welcoming space.
Most people know Morro Castle because they grew up going here with their parents. There’s nothing particularly inviting about the space or the neighborhood but word-of-mouth has done plenty to keep this place in business for decades. Prices still harken back to when it opened more than 50 years ago, with traditional Cuban standards like pan con lechon and pan con bistec clocking in from $3 to $6. The more things change, the more Morro Castle stays the same, boasting the same awning and exteriors, traditional Cuban menu and syrupy milkshakes locals have come to know.
The best place for breakfast on Collins is this trad (as in authentically old, rather than retro) Cuban diner. Choose from a long list of set combinations, many of which give change from six bucks. Later in the day, an entertaining mix of old-time Cubanos, hip-hop kids and beach bums drop by for arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), ham croquettes and fried pork chops, better known as chuletas.