Eating Our Way Through Miami

Our first food stop in Miami was Versailles in Little Havana.  Versailles bills itself as “the most famous Cuban restaurant in the world” and has become something of a destination for visitors to Miami, but I promise it’s not a touristy hangout selling t-shirts.  It’s still very much a gathering place for the Miami Cuban-American community (whenever there is breaking news about Cuba, the national news media always reports from there), and during our visit I heard far more Spanish than English being spoken by patrons.  In fact, the menus they give you are in Spanish only and you have to request an English menu if necessary.  Anyway, onto to the food, which is great.  I had my favorite Cuban dish, bistec empanizado (breaded steak).  It wasn’t the best version of the dish I’ve ever had but it was very good.  The best thing we ordered was my husband’s chicken chicharrones (Cuban fried chicken), which were perfect.  They had a wonderful crispy breading and chicken that was tender, not tough.  I highly recommend that dish!  Sides of maduros (sweet fried plaintains), tostones (savory smashed plaintain slices) and rice and beans were wonderful as well.  If you go to Miami, you absolutely must have Cuban food, and between their excellent food and the restaurant’s cultural significance, Versailes is a great place to do it.

IMG_4776IMG_4774IMG_4777An added bonus: because it’s away from touristy Miami Beach, the prices here are dirt cheap. Unfortunately the savings are undone by the costly cab ride from the beach, which can be upwards of $50.  If you’re in no hurry, I recommend taking the city bus, which is only a couple of bucks.  Despite what you may have heard, Little Havana is now mostly a perfectly safe neighborhood, although some sources I found on the Internet recommended staying west of 22nd Ave (avenue numbers increase westward and Versailles is between 35th and 36th Avenues).  We were there in the early evening and felt perfectly safe walking down Calle Ocho (8th Street) and taking the city bus back to our hotel.

Our next dinner stop, and my favorite of the restaurants we ate at on this trip, was the fabulous Southern/soul food restaurant Yardbird.  I had seen signs for Yardbird’s Vegas outpost but somehow never had the chance to dine there, so I made it a priority on our Miami trip.  I absolutely love Southern food, and so I had pretty high expectations, which were wildly exceeded. The buttermilk biscuits and honey butter were the best I’ve ever had, and the fried chicken (which had a slight kick to it but wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy) was absolutely excellent as well.  We were pretty full after those two dishes but somehow made room for the delectable chocolate chess pie.

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I can’t say enough good things about the service here, which was truly exceptional.  They absolutely doted on our pup, and when it started raining (as it does pretty much every day in the summer in Miami) they moved us to a table that was sheltered by their awning and even offered to move us (and dog!) inside if we got too uncomfortable.  They definitely deserve the dog-friendly label.

We ate all our breakfasts at our hotel‘s restaurant, Beachcraft, because we had vouchers from our package booked through Visa Signature.  Overall, I wasn’t particularly enthused about the food there (especially for the prices) but the griddled blueberry cornbread was fantastic and was something I recreated almost immediately after getting home.

IMG_4867I didn’t get to it this visit, but if you’re looking for great American/Cuban breakfast food in Miami, I highly recommend David’s Cuban Cafe, which I’ve been to numerous times.  They serve a lot of American favorites like eggs and bacon but many breakfasts also come with fantastic Cuban bread and plantains and they have a great café con leche.

3 thoughts on “Eating Our Way Through Miami

  1. Pingback: A Weekend in Nashville: 72 Hours of Eating All the Southern Food I Could Get My Hands On | Destinations & Desserts

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