Miami’s Best Ethnic Restaurant Neighborhoods

Pressed Cuban Sandwich

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Pressed Cuban Sandwich

By: Ashlee Thomas

When it comes to sampling authentic world cuisine, Miami is second to none. A smorgasbord of international culinary delights, Miami gives the palate something excitingly new to feast on when visiting these hidden gems. Little Havana brims over with Latin flavors, Little Haiti brings creole and Caribbean spices to life. Overtown, Liberty and West Grove top Black American Soul Food like none other. Paella, enchiladas, griot, diri djon djon, cornbread, collard greens, and smothered chicken; these heritage neighborhoods bring the best of the best to the dining table for lovers of ethnic cuisine.

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Little Havana

This heritage neighbor is vibrant with sabor (flavor) and fun. Little Havana is the first home to many Cuban settlers who migrated to South Florida in the late 50s. Expect to find Checkers games in the square, Cuban coffee on every corner and staple dishes like arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), moros y cristianos (black beans & white rice) and tostones (fried plantain) in abundance in Little Havana. The iconic Calle Ocho (8th Street) connects commerce, tourism and exquisite dining in this heritage district. Little Havana has welcomed diverse cultures from all parts of South America to call Little Havana home: from Nicaraguans to Argentines, its bolstering with diversity. Where there are many, cultural exchange is inevitable and those visiting Little Havana are in for some delicious Latin food. Empanadas, croquetas, picadillo, ropa vieja, enchiladas, paella and manchego. Get ready for the history of Spanish and Latin flavors to dance across those taste buds.

Restaurants in Little Havana:

Versailles: A staple since 1971, Versailles has a menu fit for a king and queen. So many options to choose from. The mojo is a delicious touch to any order. Great prices for family sized outings. 3555 SW 8th Street

El Cristo: Menu highlights include the Cuban Sampler of fried yucca, tamale, pork chunks with garlic and cilantro sauce. Ceviche and almost an infinite number of entrees to choose from. Great prices for large groups. 1543 SW 8th Street

El Exquisito: Stop by and have a cafecito or try delicious Cuban food direct from grandmother's kitchen! Coladas, pan con bistec (steak sandwich), vaca frita and more. 1510 SW 8th Street

Mi Rinconcito Mexicano: Authentic Mexican food. Tortillas, fajitas, flautas and guacamole. Hearty portions, great prices. Come ready for great service and larger portions. 1961 SW 8th Street

El Rincon Asturiano: Sample Spanish delicacies, pamper the senses, and when compelled, indulge in extravagant desserts. Fine Spanish wines, daily specials, tapas and all things Spain. 225 SW 17th Avenue

Ball & Chain: More a bar than a restaurant, enjoy tapa-style dishes and the BEST drinks in Little Havana. Live music from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. every day for all ages (21+ after 8 p.m.) 1513 SW 8th Street

    Little Haiti

    Little Haiti is a hub for the most authentic Haitian cuisine and experience. Try a taste of diri djon djon – a Haitian delicacy of black rice made with a special mushroom and sauce that will make your mouth water for more. Enjoy it with griot (fried pork) and bunnen (plantain). Ever had queue boeuf ? This slow-cooked beef is infused with island spices and stewed with the precise amount of gravy that makes each morsel fall-off-the-bone tender. For delicious comfort food, Little Haiti is a neighborhood to peruse. Come with company to enjoy good conversation. Most restaurants make their dishes to order; expect a wait that will be well worth the taste.

    Restaurants in Little Haiti:

    Chef Creole Seasoned Kitchen: Serving flavor for 27 years, one of the most hip Haitian and Caribbean joints to dine-in. Everything on the menu is delicious. It’s always packed. Expect a wait and bring the appetite for giant fulfilling portions. 200 NW 54 Street

    Chez Le Bebe: A 34-year staple in Little Haiti. All food is cooked to order and the real deal when it comes to Haitian cuisine. Expect a wait at this popular cash-only establishment. 114 NE 54th Street

    Bon Gout BBQ: The best fusion of Haitian and American Soul Food Cuisine. Fall-off-the-bone grilled deliciousness, tacos, collard greens, griot and cornbread. Eat up! 99 NW 54th Street

    Clive’s Café: The best Jamaican cuisine found in Little Haiti. Curry goat, brown stew chicken, pepper shrimp and cabbage. The best Ackee and Saltfish on the strip. Dine-in or take out. Wine and beer served. 5890 NW 2nd Avenue

    Piman Bouk: The most authentic Haitian cuisine; it’s like travelling to Haiti when walking into Piman Bouk. Food seasoned with Haiti’s love. Bring cash and an appetite. 5932 NE 2nd Avenue

    La Fourchette Restaurant: Haitian cuisine, take-out only with buffet-style serving. Try the $5 lunch special and get loaded up with Kreyol food. 8267 N Miami Avenue

    Historic Overtown, West Coconut Grove & Liberty City

    All three of these areas, quite unique to Miami, are where Black settlers from the Bahamas and the US made South Florida their home. Black American Soul Food and Bahamian cuisine is to be expected when venturing into these heritage neighborhoods.

    Historic Overtown was the all-Black city where businessmen, landowners and celebrities came to live work and play during the segregation era. Liberty City became the playground of many Blacks migrating from Georgia to a deeper South in the early 60s. Coconut Grove saw the infusion of Black American and Bahamian culture creating new ways of life for the Southern Floridian. With integration, the I-95 cause-way, and massive migrations north for work, Overtown, Liberty City and Coconut Grove rapidly transformed into sleepy towns with historically designated architectural relics waiting patiently for the return of its vibrant residents.

    Albeit the changes, one thing that’s stayed the same in each of these places is the yummy soul food akin to a Sunday family dinner at Granny’s house. Fried croquettes, grits, cornbread, collard greens, sweet yams, buttermilk biscuits, all home-cooked and served piping hot in Southern Comfort Glory. With a cultural serving of Caribbean delights: steamed conch, rice and peas based in coconut milk, brown stews and curried chicken, here are some restaurants to put on the itinerary.

    Restaurants in Overtown:

    Jackson’s Soul Food: Hearty Soul Food breakfast and lunch. Top rated dining experience with delicious entrees; order a few to share. Collard greens and cornbread are definitely on this menu. Open for breakfast and lunch. 950 NW 3rd Avenue

    Lil Green House Grill: American and Soul Food Fusion. Expect burgers and fries and shrimp abd grits. This restaurant is vegetarian-friendly with great service. It is quite intimate, great for two and small parties. Serves wine and beer. 1300 NW 3rd Avenue

    Restaurants in Liberty City:

    Bahamian Pot Restaurant: Authentic Bahamian cuisine. Stewed conch, whole fish. Delish! Be sure to try the Bahamian Soda and desserts and take a selfie behind the rustic Caribbean décor and friendly staff. 6301 NW 6th Avenue

    MLK Restaurant: This is all feel good comfort food. Smothered chicken, boiled fish, cornbread and more. MLK is home-grown staff with an extremely local vibe. Expect to see police officers, commissioners, pastors and real community patron MLK. 5931 NW 17th Avenue

    Snappers: Everything is fried in a golden batter. Fresh, fast, tasty seafood, chicken and fries. The lemon pepper chicken wings are beyond amazing. If this seasoning is new to the palate, ask for light sauce to get the perfect blend. 6700 NW 7th Avenue

    Pop-ups in West Coconut Grove:

    West Grove Farmers Market: Peruse this well-visited fresh market every Saturday for fresh produce, holistic items and yummy finds. This markets brings local artisans together to enrich and sustain humanity. Rain or shine! 3300 Grand Avenue

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