Eating in Miami just wouldn't be the same without these spots.Less
It seems fair to start this guide with the most famous restaurant belonging to Miami’s most prominent ethnic group. Tourists invariably ask about Versailles, and while it may not serve the city’s best Cuban food, it’s hard to argue with its claim as “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant.” Inside the palatial dining room, you’ll find solid interpretations of traditional Cuban dishes—but the place to be is always at the ventanita outside.
This city has a lot of places claiming to make the best versions of key lime pie, but no one messes with Florida’s favorite dessert in such a beautiful, Miami-specific way as Sweet Delights Key Lime Pies in Florida City. Sweet Delights takes the tart, creamy classic pie and infuses it with local tropical fruits, like guava, mamey, and the owner’s own backyard soursop (AKA guanábana).
Joe’s has been open in South Beach for more than 100 years, making it Miami Beach’s oldest restaurant. And everything about this place is still unapologetically old school—from their limited reservation system to the formally dressed waitstaff. As fancy as this place feels, everyone’s coming here to do the same thing: rip apart a pile of stone crab claws, the best kind of crabs in the world. Everything is à la carte, and must-order sides include the hashed brown potatoes and creamed spinach.
Tropical Chinese has been one of Miami’s best Chinese restaurants since 1984, and is responsible for introducing a large portion of Miami-Dade County to the wonders of dim sum. The Bird Road spot has a huge menu of Chinese classics, but the reason we make sure to come here more often than we see our dentist is for that dim sum, a traffic jam of over 50 dishes wheeled around the dining room on huge carts.
Jackson Soul Food is an Overtown institution and one of the best (and only remaining) places in Miami serving classic soul food for breakfast, lunch, or brunch. They’ve got a big selection of dishes like smothered pork chops, fried catfish, black-eyed peas, as well as the requisite grits, buttery biscuits, and sweet cornbread. Order it all—just make sure to get their super crispy fried catfish. It’s cooked perfectly and has a really crunchy exterior.
Pinolandia is our favorite fritanga in Miami for several reasons: the Little Havana location is open 24 hours a day (useful information when you’re leaving Space), they have ample off-street parking, a 24-hour Nicaraguan bodega, and the food is dependably great. The best thing to get here is the carne asada, which you can watch being grilled while the aroma of flame-licked beef marinated in naranja agría fills the restaurant. You’ll also want to grab a slice or two of queso frito.
Royal Castle has been around since 1958 and is like the local equivalent of White Castle (although it hasn’t had a stoner bromantic comedy made about it—yet). Back then, the Miami-born concept was a very successful chain with over 150 locations around the American south. Today though, there’s only one left in Gladeview, an area west of Liberty City. This place stays open 24/7, though we like it best in the morning when you can get a solid Southern breakfast.
Since 1966, this casual Cuban seafood restaurant, where you can watch yachts and old-school fishing boats drift by over the course of lunch or dinner, has been the best place to eat on the Miami River. And, chances are, it’s still the only place your grandpa ever wants to go for his beloved grouper, which Garcia’s simply fries and serves with classic Cuban sides like rice and tostones. It’s also worth checking out its sister restaurant, La Camaronera, for the incredibly tasty pan con minuta.
This Haitian fried chicken spot was the best restaurant on this strip of NE 2nd Avenue before this area became gentrified, and it continues to be one of our favorites in the neighborhood. Pack does make very good Haitian staples, but you’re coming to this casual restaurant for some of Miami’s best fried chicken. The juicy drumsticks are fried just enough to produce a crispy skin, but aren’t so heavily breaded that you can’t taste the well-seasoned meat in each bite.
This tiny sub shop has been the official hangout for Killian students and anyone searching for an obnoxiously overstuffed sandwich since the late ‘70s. The whole point of coming to Hungry Bear is customization and the gluttonous possibilities of your own imagination. Start with one of their own unique creations, like the oriental chicken, which features shaved meat, a sweet/spicy sauce, and crunchy noodles. Then feel free to add absurd amounts of cheese, condiments, vegetables, and sauces.