Showing posts with label Cuban. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cuban. Show all posts

Friday, August 12, 2016

30 Great Things to Eat in Miami for Less than $11

A disproportionate amount of my time and energy writing here is devoted to higher end dining (leading some people to think I actually eat that way all the time!). Yes, there's a lot more glamour in a fancy tasting menu than in the average daily meal. But not necessarily more satisfaction.

And as Miami rapidly becomes an increasingly expensive place to live, there's a particular joy when that satisfaction comes cheap. As we enter the season of Miami Spice, when everyone goes scrambling to sample all the $39, 3-course dinners, this year I decided to do something different.

So forgive me for the click-bait title, but here are thirty great things to eat in Miami[1] all of them under $11.[2] A few of these come from Miami's most celebrated chefs and restaurants. Others come from places with no websites or social media managers, made by cooks whose names I will never know. Many are not terribly Instagram-friendly. What they all have in common is that they make me very happy when I eat them.

Though it was not my original purpose, and though it's obviously skewed somewhat by my own personal predilections,[3] I suspect this list might just give a more complete picture of our city than the latest restaurant "hot list" – not just the million dollar dining rooms in the South Beach and Brickell towers, but the many Latin American and Caribbean and other flavors that give Miami its – well, flavor. I'm always gratified to see exciting things happening in the Miami dining stratosphere; but there are good things closer to the ground too. Here are some of them.

1. Pan con Croqueta ($10)

I wrote recently about All Day, and won't repeat myself here. Instead, I'll mention something that only occurred to me in retrospect: how comfortably it traverses the territory between new school coffee house and old school Cuban cafecito shop. Sure, the coffee beans are a lot better than the regulation-issue Bustelo or Pilon, and they don't need to put an avalanche of sugar into an espresso to make it taste good, but there's not as much space as you might think between a fancy Gibraltar and a humble cortadito. All Day even has a ventanita where you can order from the sidewalk. And, they've got an excellent version of a pan con croqueta, with warm, creamy ham croquetas and a runny, herb-flecked egg spread, squeezed into classic crusty pan cubano.

(More pictures in this All Day - Miami flickr set).

All Day
1035 N. Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida

2. Croqueta Sandwich ($5.90)

If All Day offers a new-school version of a pan con croqueta, the prototype can be found at Al's Coffee Shop, hidden away inside a Coral Gables office building. Despite the obscure location, it's usually full of police officers and municipal workers, who know where to find a good deal. The croqueta sandwich here starts at $4.65; you can add eggs for an extra $1.25. Bonus points: on Tuesdays, those excellent croquetas are only 25¢ apiece all day.

Al's Coffee Shop
2121 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, Coral Gables, Florida

3. Curry Goat ($10; $7 on Thursday)

For as long as I've been in Miami – which is a long time – B&M Market has been open along a dodgy stretch of NE 79th Street. Run by a sweet, friendly Guyanese couple, this Caribbean market with a kitchen and small seating area in back turns out fresh rotis, staples like braised oxtails, jerk chicken, cow foot stew, and my favorite – the tender, deeply-flavored curry goat. A small portion, with rice and peas and a fresh salad, is plenty, and will set you back $10 – or go on Thursday when it's the daily lunch special, and it's only $7.

(More pictures in this B&M Market - Miami flickr set).

B&M Market
219 NE 79th Street, Miami, Florida

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Friday, June 3, 2016

first thoughts: Doce Provisions | Little Havana (Miami)

I'd been meaning to ask Burger Beast, who is my expert on such things, what was his favorite Cuban sandwich in Miami. Then I found myself driving through Little Havana on the way back from court yesterday, and may have come up with my own answer to that question.

Doce Provisions is a pocket-sized restaurant on SW 12th Avenue, just a couple blocks north of Calle Ocho. (The spot used to be Alberto Cabrera's Little Bread). There's not much to it: a few tables, a counter along the wall lined with stools, and an open kitchen, though a roomier patio in back provides outdoor seating if weather permits. The menu is pretty tight too: the centerpiece is five varieties of sandwiches, bookended by several appetizer type items "para picar," and five bigger "family meal" options, all available in small or large portions.

(You can see all my pictures in this Doce Provisions flickr set).

The crumbly exterior of Doce's croquetas encases a filling of Miami Smokers[1] chorizo bound in a molten bechamel sauce. These would hold up well in a croqueta showdown with just about any others in town, save maybe Michelle Bernstein's ethereal versions. At $5 for four pieces, that's not too shabby. And while a "mostaza" dipping sauce tastes more of mayo than mustard, a delicate little side salad of frisée and slivered pickled peppers provides exactly the zing I was looking for.

It's a solid opening act to the main event: Doce's El Cubano. This Cuban sandwich is unorthodox in several respects. There's thin-sliced smoked pork loin and cured soppressata here, versus the traditional roast pork and ham.[2] The bread is neither the customary, flaky Cuban bread nor the sweet, eggy medianoche variation, but lies somewhere in between: the crumb more tender than the former, the crust a bit more substantial than the latter.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

D. Rodriguez - South Beach

It was with some dismay that I realized recently that it was more than twenty years ago that I first experienced Chef Douglas Rodriguez's cooking, when he was at a little place called Wet Paint Café that was one of the first signs of life on Lincoln Road in the late 1980's.[1]

Since then, Chef Rodriguez has gone through a number of other projects. First was Yuca,[2] where he was one of the pioneers of bringing contemporary, upscale flare to classic Latin American flavors, along with other kitchen luminaries such as Norman Van Aken and Cindy Hutson. After about five years, he packed his bags and headed for the bright lights of New York City, where he opened Patria, followed by a couple other restaurants, and further expansion to Philadelphia (Alma de Cuba).

But Chef Rodriguez eventually made his way back home to Miami. Around 2003 he opened Ola in a refurbished standalone 2-story building on Biscayne Boulevard in what is now called the "Upper East Side."[3] I loved that space, but Ola was not long for the Boulevard,and within a couple years had made its way back across Biscayne Bay to South Beach, first at the Savoy Hotel and then to its current spot in the Sanctuary hotel. It seems the expansion bug has bitten again, as Chef Rodriguez recently opened a new restaurant, D. Rodriguez, in the Astor Hotel on South Beach, and an Ola Cuban is in the works for Gulfstream Village in Hallandale.

Where Ola's menu looks all over Latin America and the Caribbean for inspiration, D. Rodriguez stays more closely to a Cuban theme. For me, this is something of a mixed bag. Candidly, I don't find Cuban cuisine to be the most exciting of those that our southerly neighbors have to offer. It's good, it's satisfying, but rarely is it transcendent. Could Chef Rodriguez make it so?

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Best Cuban Sandwiches in Miami

There is only one true "Sandwich Cubano" - that classic combination of roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles, pressed on la plancha until the exterior is toasty and the interior is warm and melted.[1] But there are actually many varieties of Cuban sandwiches that can be found in Miami.

I was recently asked to recommend five Cuban sandwiches and give short descriptions for a publication (which may or may not actually appear, I don't know). Needless to say, I struggled to limit myself to five, to say nothing of the abbreviated word count. Here's an expanded, unedited version of some of my personal favorites.


For the classic "Cubano," there's still no better place to go than that most classic Cuban restaurant, the hall of mirrors that is the unofficial capitol of Cuban Miami: Versailles. Is it the best Cubano in Miami? Honestly? Maybe, maybe not. But eating one there, followed by a cafecito to wash it down - either in the mirrored, chandeliered dining room, or probably even better, outside at the counter from the take-out window, where the locals hang out and gossip - is a true Miami experience.

3555 SW 8th Street
Miami, FL 33134

Versailles on Urbanspoon


Enriquetas may not be much to look at, and it may not be in the toniest part of Miami (its location, near the warehouse district / art district that is Wynwood, is what a realtor might call a "transitional neighborhood"), but their Pan Con Lechón - tender shredded roasted pork, splashed with some garlicky mojo, topped with sautéed onions, and smushed into toasted buttered bread - is my favorite. I like mine with a side of tostones, with some more mojo for dipping. You won't be very kissable afterwards, but you'll be satisfied.

186 NE 29th Street
Miami, FL 33137
(breakfast & lunch only)

Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

Luis Galindo's Latin American

I still fondly remember the original Latin American Cafe on Coral Way, an indoor-outdoor space that got decimated in a hurricane several years ago and never reopened. But the newer location on the outskirts of Coral Gables still tastes just as good. The dozens of whole hams hanging all around the restaurant are a good sign, but for nostalgia's sake I like one of my old-time favorites: the "Sandwich Miami," which features turkey, ham, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato, all pressed on la plancha just like the original.

Luis Galindo's Latin American
898 SW 57th Avenue
Miami, FL 33144

Luis Galindo Latin American 2 on Urbanspoon

La Camaronera

If Garcia's Seafood Grill on the Miami River has the best grilled fish sandwich in town (and it does), then the Pan Con Minuta at La Camaronera[2] is the best fried fish sandwich in town - and one of the best you'll find anywhere. The place started as a seafood market, and 25 years ago added fryers and a stand-up counter so they could also cook and serve their catch. There's still no seating at the counter, or anywhere else, so step up and place your order. Your fish will be freshly battered and fried to order, and come to you in a few minutes with a crispy, lightly spiced crust around some beautifully tender flaky fresh fish, topped with onions and ketchup. Hit it with a bit of the hot sauce that's out on the counter too. This is no "filet-o-fish" - the minuta comes with the tail sticking out of an edge of the bun! The best part: it's only $3.25. Get some bollitos de carita (black-eyed pea fritters), also expertly fried, to go with it, or if you're more adventurous they have fried fish roe. But I figured out when I last went that the item everyone was getting was the grouper soup; now I know.

La Camaronera
1952 W. Flagler Street
Miami, FL 33135
(Open 9am-5:30pm Mon-Sat, 10am-4pm Sun)

La Camaronera Fish Market on Urbanspoon