Diner Most-Loved

The Most Popular Cuban Restaurants in Miami

It might not be Havana, but it’s close!

17 min read
10/28/2022
stock photo

Short of traveling to Havana, Miami is the best place to satisfy your Cuban-food cravings. Whether that is for a cortadito, a café Cubano, or a frita, there are countless places in the Miami area to order from. Here are your picks, in order, of the 28 most popular Cuban restaurants on Caviar. We’re happy to see many family-owned, legacy businesses on the list, all of which have become integral to the fibers of this vibrant city.

1. El Rinconcito Latino

You’re never too far from an El Rinconcito Latino — there are six locations in Miami. This all-day restaurant is as classic as it gets. Its lengthy menu has Cuban favorites like the medianoche, a sandwich of roast pork and ham on sweet egg bread; plates of vaca frita, shredded fried steak; and arroz con leche. Hard to know where to start, but go with some mariquitas, aka plantain chips, and move on to one of their mains: We recommend either the olive-studded ropa vieja or the charred carne asada. Both are served with the rotating soup of the day. Make sure to grab a slice of their tres leches cake for dessert.

2. Vicky Bakery

You’ll also find locations ofVicky Bakery throughout the Miami area: nineteen of them, to be exact. It was started by a Cuban couple, Antonio and Gelasia Cao, in 1972, and the chain is still family owned and operated. Equally great for breakfast or lunch, their sandwiches are what to order. The croissant sandwich is a traditional Cubano but deliciously amped up and buttery, thanks to that croissant. You’ll absolutely want to order something from the sweet section too. Our pick is their custardy flan, which they serve both as the traditional dessert and in a cheesecake version.

3. Doce Provisions

This Little Havana café comes from chef-owners Justin Sherrer and Lisetty Llampalla, who are looking to bring good, homey, unpretentious Cuban food to Miami through their chef-centered, globally influenced menu. You’ll find dishes like lechon asado buns, which take traditional Chinese bao buns and fill them with roast pork and grilled pineapple confit. The queso fresco–topped chorizo croquettes are another modern interpretation of a classic. If you’re feeling like something sweet, the guava-and-cheese empanadas are a strong dessert choice.

4. Havana 1957

They certainly don’t skimp on the portions at this Miami institution. The aim is to channel that decadent, authentic 1950s Cuban vibe, meaning family recipes, hearty plates, and lots of options. To start, the yuca bites are crispy fried yuca dough stuffed with cheese or beef and served with a cilantro aioli. For mains, it’s the signature Pollo Havana 1957 we’re after, a family recipe of roast chicken topped with a secret-recipe Cuban gravy and served with all the sides: rice, black beans, roasted potatoes, and sweet plantains. You’ll likely have leftovers.

5. Three Palms Cuban Café

Another family-owned and -operated spot that you can find in the North Miami Beach area, Three Palms is named after the Cuban village the founders emigrated from, La Palma, as well as the original staff — three brothers. They’ve since come a long way; even Martha Stewart and the Kardashians are fans. This is another place with no shortage of options. The skirt steak plate is a good choice, especially if you’re hungry. It comes grilled and with two sides of your choice, including fried plantains and french fries. If it’s lunch you’re after, grab the Argentine choripán, a grilled chorizo sausage on French bread topped with chimichurri. 

6. El Palacio de los Jugos

As the name, which translates to “the juice palace,” would suggest, this restaurant is a paradise of all things drinkable. It has shakes, smoothies, fruit juices, vegetable juices, and oh-so-many ways to take your coffee. Start healthy with a fresh-pressed bright green Ginger Reboot juice or a Doctor Detox, with carrots, celery, cucumber, beet, apple, and lemon. For a dessert-like treat, they do some pretty wild milkshakes, with flavors like Fruity Pebble Crunch and Sweet Pineapple Cream. On the savory side, they have a long menu of Cuban favorites; the Miami Sandwich, with ham, queso, bacon, tomato, lettuce, and crispy potato sticks, is a standout.

7. 925 Nuevos Cubanos

This Fort Lauderdale spot has been around since 1976, when Luis Valdes Sr. first opened it in his family home, hoping to bring the food from his native Cuba to Miami. It’s all about the sandwiches here. Hungry? The Los Three Compadres Sandwich, with chicken, roast pork, and steak, is a good choice. On the lighter side of things, they also have a rare veggie option, a sandwich that comes pressed with grilled zucchini, onions, greens, and red and yellow peppers.

8. MesaMar Seafood Table

You’ll feel the pan-Latin and global influences at this Coral Gables seafood restaurant. For something distinctly Cuban, lean into the paella, stews, and sides. Although the dish originated in Valencia, Spain, paella also happens to be a staple of Cuban cuisine. MesaMar’s version is a combination of shrimp, lobster, clams, calamari, mussels, scallops, and green peas cooked with yellow rice. They also have two enchilados — not to be confused with Mexican enchiladas — which are heavily spiced tomato-based stews. MesaMar does one with shrimp and another with lobster, served with rice or quinoa.

9. CAO Bakery

If you’re a Miami resident or familiar with the city at all, you’ll know CAO Bakery. It’s practically the region’s Dunkin’. The rapidly expanding chain is known for their breakfast, pastries, and coffee, with no shortage of options for appetites both big and small. If you’re looking for a sandwich to start the day, try the bacon, egg, and queso, which comes with fried or scrambled eggs, bacon, and melted Swiss cheese on a brioche bun. Or try it on a croissant. If you’re more of a coffee-and-pastry person, go for a café con leche and an iconic pastelito, which comes filled with guava, coconut, or guava and cheese.

10. Caribe Cafe Restaurant

The Alvarado family started to work in kitchens together in the ’90s, and in 2005 they finally had the opportunity to open their own place, Caribe Cafe Restaurant. They pride themselves on serving traditional Cuban favorites, like rice and beans, caramelly flan, and all the mamey juice you can drink. They’ve now grown to six locations throughout the Miami area. The restaurant is a great place to order a bunch of dishes to share, like mofongo, croquettes, and plates of grilled chicken with all the fixings. The half pollo a la brasa with a side of rice and plantains would be our order and, of course, so would a cinnamon-inflected arroz con leche for dessert.

11. Pinecrest Bakery

This Cuban American bakery chain is known for large-format or catering-style food, meaning it’s great for a party. First opened in 2012, they now have over a dozen locations in South Florida. If you’re after breakfast, order a dozen assorted pastries, or, if you don’t happen to be with a crowd, maybe a simple pan con tortilla, an omelet with ham, Swiss cheese, and onion served on Cuban bread. Later in the day, grab a pan con bistec, another stellar sandwich, this one with griddled steak topped with onion, lettuce, tomato, and potato sticks.

12. El Cubano Sandwich Shop

At El Cubano, the food is unfussy, but it’s consistent and good. From its name, you can guess their speciality: sandwiches. A little-known fact: They also happen to do a great breakfast. For your a.m. meal, grab the deluxe breakfast croissant that comes with scrambled eggs, ham, and melted American cheese. If you need something a little meatier, try the El Caballo, with two fried eggs and grilled steak. That’ll keep you satisfied until dinner.

13. MONTECATINI 

The menu at MONTECATINI isn’t purely Cuban, since it draws on influences from Italian, Cuban, and Spanish cuisines. The chefs use both traditional and more contemporary methods to bring you their totally new — and very Miami — take on Cuban food. The menu is diverse, with pasta, pizza, and Cubanos. Lean into the croquetas to start, or the tostones rellenos, which are smashed and fried plantains topped with ropa vieja or shrimp and melted cheese. The vaca frita is a good choice for a main; it’s shredded beef cooked with onion and garlic until crispy and seasoned with mojo sauce.

14. Metropol Restaurant

Started in 1965 by José Canosa and his wife, both Cuban immigrants to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Metropol now has nine restaurants throughout Florida and Puerto Rico. Their quality food and affordable prices made the restaurant an immediate success and have stood the test of time. The food is homestyle Cuban cuisine. Try something from their specialties section, like the Cuban Party, where you can get a little taste of the whole menu. It's a plate that has a tamale, pulled pork, cassava, pot roast, and shredded beef. Or, for more of a focused entrée, try the mofongo (stuffed, smashed plantain); Metropol has eight different options on their menu, including octopus and skirt steak.

15. El Rey de las Fritas

Everyone knows about El Rey de las Fritas, a true Miami institution  — Obama even stopped in on a visit to the city. The Little Havana restaurant has been family owned and operated for more than 40 years. What to order here is clear: a frita, or Cuban-style hamburger. They make eight versions. Go classic and order the Frita Original. It’s a ground pork-and-beef patty topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, salsa, and crispy potato strings, served on a soft roll. You can dress it up with toppings like a fried egg, fries, or ham.

16. Sergio's Restaurant

Opened in 1975, Sergio’s is women-founded and third-generation family owned — it’s Cuban American to the core. They offer family recipes that have been adapted to their Miami home. Sergio’s is known for their croquetas; they have served more than 20 million. Try them in either ham, spinach, or chicken. If you want more than a snack, go for a sandwich. We're partial to the pan con lechon, roast pork topped with marinated onions and tangy mojo sauce on toasted Cuban bread.

17. La Carreta

La Carreta strives to bring Miami authentic, abuela-style Cuban food and that really strong espresso Cuba is known for. Not new to the game, they’ve been around since 1976 and are still proudly family owned. There are lots of breakfast options here, including particularly good tortillas (Spanish-style omelets). For lunch, go for the storied Elena Ruz sandwich, named after a Cuban socialite who notoriously requested a pressed turkey, cream cheese, and strawberry jam sandwich back in the 1920s. It has since become an unofficial national dish.

18. CasaCuba Restaurant

This South Miami restaurant has a lengthy menu filled with heaping portions of unpretentious and delicious food. They do breakfast, every sandwich you can think of, and plates of savory picadillo. Their appetizers really shine, from thoughtful versions of crispy yuca fries with cilantro aioli to shrimp-filled tostones and trios of mini fritas. It’s a rare place where salads are more than an afterthought. Try the Ensalada Casacuba, mixed greens with garbanzo beans, queso blanco, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, and yuca chips.

19. Casavana Cuban Cuisine

Casavana is a great choice if you’re in the mood for something grilled. They do the classic churrasco style well. Go for the juicy, tender charbroiled skirt steak, boneless chicken breast, or Atlantic salmon. All come served with your choice of sides, including boiled yuca, black beans, and maduros (sweet fried plantains). If you happen to be in the mood for dessert, try one of their shakes. They come in flavors like mamey, strawberry, and the very Cuban trigo, made with sweetened condensed milk and puffed wheat cereal.

20. Casa Juan Restaurant

The menu at Casa Juan is far-ranging; you’ll find more than just that authentic Cubano or ropa vieja here. They’ve incorporated some global influences, with dishes like fettuccine Alfredo, chicken wings, and American-style breakfasts. To keep things strictly Cuban, go for their signature: the Sandwich Casa Juan, toasted Cuban bread with Swiss cheese, turkey, ham, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, and chips. Or maybe try a plate of mashed green plantains with pork, which comes with your choice of just about every side you can imagine, like tamales, fried cassava, or even mashed potatoes.

21. Polo Norte

At Polo Norte, they pride themselves on the philosophy that when it comes to food, they keep it simple, fresh, and homemade. It’s another restaurant with a menu that isn’t 100 percent Cuban, but you can still find all your favorites, like plates of crispy vaca frita, melty medianoches sandwiches, and creamy tres leches cake. They do a playful Cuban-Italian-American fusion pizza. At first glance, it might look like your typical pie, but it offers toppings like chorizo, picadillo, and plantain. The Familiar de Jamon is a great place to start; it’s a gooey cheese pie topped with ham.

22. Cuban Guys

This spot was founded in 2012, by — you guessed it — three Cuban guys: Jorge Llapur, Isaac Sklar, and Enrique Santos. They quickly became known for their sandwiches and fast-casual approach to Cuban food. The obvious move is to order the Cuban Guys Sandwich, with steak, ham, and Swiss cheese topped with their famous crispy shoestring fries and grilled onions. Or maybe go a little avant garde and try one of their bowls. They come with rice, beans, plantains, and your choice of meat. Could it be the Cuban equivalent of the burrito bowl? We’re pushing for national expansion. 

23. The Black Beans Cafe

A little farther north, in Hollywood, you’ll find this homey, casual café. It’s a good choice for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The menu is filled with sandwiches, soups, and plates of fried eggs with all the fixings. To start the day, go for a strong cortadito and a plantain omelet, the perfect combination of savory and sweet. On the lunch front, the move is to order a roast pork plate that comes with rice, grilled onions, and beans. For dinner or a late-night snack, get their midnight sandwich that comes pressed with ham, Swiss cheese, roast pork, pickles, and mustard, plus a side of fries.

24. A Touch of Cuba

Another option for those north of Miami, in Hallandale, A Touch of Cuba delivers a broad menu of traditional Cuban staples like steak sandwiches, fried plantains, and rich flans. It’s open all day, doing mostly eggs for breakfast, like a Spanish sausage omelet filled with chorizo and cheese, served with Cuban coffee and toast. Later in the day, there is no shortage of indulgent options. The Picadera section of the menu, aka the snack section, offers an enticing combination of fried cheese, sausage, and plantains. Or maybe the hearty breaded palomilla steak will satisfy your craving. It’s topped with marinara and Swiss cheese, and comes with three sides.

25. Barrio Latino Restaurant

You’ll see a bit of a pan-Latin perspective at this Aventura restaurant. If you’re in the mood for something strictly Cuban, don’t worry; they have a section of the menu clearly labeled “Taste of Cuba” for you. It’s a tight array of perfect options, which we enjoy — less decision fatigue. Go for the lechón asado, pulled pork with onions and garlic mojo sauce. Or try the masas de cerdo, pork chunks in avocado sauce. Both come with a choice of two sides, like rice and beans, fried plantains, and steamed broccoli.

26. Islas Canarias Restaurant

At Islas Canarias, they strive for quality by using carefully chosen ingredients and recipes that have been passed down for generations. Like many other restaurants on the list, it’s third-generation family owned and operated. You’ll find a menu filled with lots of sandwiches, including favorites like the Cubano, the Elena Ruz, and even the all-American cheeseburger. Try the filete de pechuga empanizada, a tender boneless chicken breast that’s breaded and fried, served with your choice of two sides.

27. Ricky Bakery

It’s no surprise that Ricky Bakery is known for its cakes, pastries, and desserts. They’ve been serving these sweet treats to the Miami community for nearly 20 years. The menu covers all the usuals, including guava tartlets, cheese-based flan, and chocolate cake, and those are just the desserts that are sold individually. If you’re looking to feed a group, try one of their eight-inch cakes, offered in both Cuban- and American-leaning flavors, like chocolate or vanilla rum, dulce de leche, and a far-from-basic vanilla meringue. Ricky is a great last-minute birthday party save if your cake didn’t rise!

28. Karla Cuban Bakery

A family’s love of pastry was the driving force in opening the first Karla Cuban Bakery. New to the U.S. and longing for the pastry-lined streets of Havana, Ariel Gonzalez opened his restaurant in 1989 and named it for his mother, Karla. On the sweeter side, try the Señorita Dulce Leche, a small layer cake filled with pastry cream and topped with a layer of caramel. For a more savory breakfast option, try a tequeño. It’s fried bread dough filled with guava paste, with or without cheese. 

Featured photo credit: Max Griss on Unsplash

Topics

Author

Kyle Beechey

Use the code SPOTLIGHT10 for $10 off your first order of $30 or more.