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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Larry "Muy Yum"

The best Cuban restaurants in Miami for Abuela-approved home cooking

Whether it's a pan con bistec or a heaping plate of ropa vieja, the best Cuban restaurants in Miami serve up all the classics

Virginia Gil
Written by
Virginia Gil
&
Ryan Pfeffer
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The second most-asked question by people looking to dine in South Florida is which is the best waterfront restaurant in Miami? The first question: where can I find the best Cuban food in Miami? Luckily, we have answers to both. When it comes to Abuela-approved dishes, from the classic ropa vieja and the stick-to-your-ribs arroz con pollo to tasty on-the-go sandwiches, Miami has you covered—and then some. From Little Havana to Hialeah to South Beach, neighborhoods across the city boast a variety of places, including tourist favorites and mom-and-pop establishments we can’t get enough of. Check out the full list of Miami’s best Cuban restaurants and savor a meal that won’t disappoint.

RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in Miami

Best Cuban restaurants in Miami

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Tamiami
  • price 2 of 4

On rainy days, over a holiday, at rush hour—there's no instance when this family-owned restaurant isn’t busy. The reasons are many but are not limited to approachable prices, homestyle Cuban food, an inviting dining room and warm, welcoming service. Need another reason to venture west to Islas Canarias? One word: croquetas. Its mouthwatering ham croquettes have a huge local following—us included. Bring us a few, will ya?

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Midtown
  • price 1 of 4

This small sandwich shop has outlasted Wynwood’s condo boom and continues to be where working stiffs and Wynwood hipsters commiserate over straightforward Cuban fare, cafecito and fresh juices. Service is fast and friendly; speaking Spanish is a huge plus here. We ranked Enriqueta’s Cubano as one of the best in Miami, but you shouldn’t take our word for it. Go for a taste of the inexpensive sandwich, featuring buttery Cuban bread, roasted pork slices, ham and holey cheese.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • East Little Havana
  • price 2 of 4

Little Havana’s thriving hotspot, where great cocktails, elevated cuisine and live music collide for one of the more lively Cuban eating experiences in Miami. Two awesome Miami minds combined for this: Michelle Bernstein on food and Julio Cabrera on drinks. These two have produced precisely the sort of concept Calle Ocho deserves—and one hell of a croqueta selection. Few places offer such a quality Cuban trifecta and appeal to locals and tourists alike.

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Miami
  • price 2 of 4

One of the few Cuban restaurants in Miami that people still get dressed up for, Havana Harry is at once polished and rustic with lots of wood accents and cozy nooks that are perfect for celebrations, which you’ll see lots of on the weekends. It’s perennially busy for a reason: Harry’s serves extra-large portions of tasty Cuban eats at affordable prices. Simple as that.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Little Gables

Born as a humble food truck in 2016, Caja Caliente grew a fierce following for its reliably delicious and homemade takes on Cuban classics, inspired by owner Monica “Mika” Leon’s own family recipes. Mika cooks with her mom, Lupita, who you might recognize from the restaurant's Instagram and their many appearances on TV, including on shows like Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern and Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi. Stardom aside, this is a humble spot with an ambitious menu that runs the gamut from modern Cuban tacos to inspired disco sandwiches to hangover-curing arroz on pollo (served in limited quantities, only on the weekends).

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Little Gables
  • price 2 of 4

This Coral Gables gem belongs to a small chain of Cuban restaurants owned and operated by the Vilariño family since the early 1980s. Its name means small house in Spanish and that’s just the feeling you get when you walk in—like you’re dining in someone’s home. With that, expect Abuela-sized portions: steaks the size of your head, garlicky yuca and more seafood options than what you’d find at other Cuban restaurants. The menu is large and suitable for a range of palates, so you won’t get any complaints from the picky eaters in your party.

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

The self-proclaimed most famous Cuban restaurant in the world lives up to the hype—even if its ornate, mirrored dining room seems at odds with the casual menu. Up for grabs is every dish to ever be cataloged as Cuban, plus a handful of salads for the health-conscious. The crowd is a mixed bag of camera-happy tourists, aging patrons from the neighborhood who treat Versailles as their commissary, and multigenerational Cuban families, all of whom make for fantastic people watching.

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Flagami
  • price 2 of 4

Around since the '60s, La Rosa's charm hinged on its pre-Castro era hospitality, a time when white-table clothing dining and live music were the norm. The level of service remains but its old-timey feel has been completely overhauled, including updates to the bar, a brand new brunch menu and a freshly added happy hour. La Rosa is still the place for two-mojito lunches and fancy celebrations. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Coral Way
  • price 2 of 4

With outposts at more than two-dozen locations across South Florida, Sergio’s has the Cuban food market locked down. The casual spot caters to a new generation of Miamians that favors a more Americanized or Latin-inspired take on Cuban cuisine. Watching your waistline? Sergio’s La Flaca menu of low-calorie eats is a gift to any healthy eater with taste buds—think tasty, wholesome swaps like cauliflower rice, turkey picadillo and whole wheat grains.

 

  • Restaurants
  • West Little Havana
  • price 2 of 4

The city’s staple Cuban restaurant has locations across town, each one featuring a small counter, a rotating dessert display and a buzzy coffee window that doles out strong cafecito and flaky pastelitos. It’s certainly not award-winning Cuban food, but La Carreta’s small chain of restaurants are consistent in quality, service and flavors. They also make a mean club sandwich, which comes in their signature size—super-size.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Olympia Heights

If Little Havana is for tourists, the Bird Road area, where this Cuban diner is located, is strictly for locals. And that’s just who you’ll find here, tucking into extra-large portions of rice, black beans and more Cuban comfort food. Rio Cristal is known for its palomilla steak covered in a mountain of french fries, so get that. You won’t finish it, and you may not even like it, but you’ll avoid a serious case of food FOMO.

  • Restaurants
  • Cuban
  • Flagami
  • price 1 of 4

This no-frills Cuban restaurant in West Miami is known more for its coffee window and take-out hot chocolate than its Cuban food, which is actually decent. People line up here as soon as the temperature dips below 60 degrees. The reason for the crowds? La Palma’s thick hot chocolate and churros, neither of which do much to keep you warm but do taste delicious.

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Almost certainly always teeming with tourists, Puerto Sagua is about the only place to get your Cuban fix in South Beach. It’s held court on the same corner of Collins Avenue since the 1960s, serving Latin standards for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Grab a Cubano to enjoy on the sand (Puerto Sagua is two blocks from the beach) or look around at what everyone else is having and point—you can bet whatever’s on the table will satisfy the urge for Cuban food in Miami.

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