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Guide to Eating in Miami: Must-Have Foods (and Where to Try Them!)

by Roslie

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Miami’s food culture is as diverse as its neighborhoods. The city’s Latin and Caribbean heritage, its oceanside locale, and wealth of unique local ingredients, have all blended to create a culinary scene, unlike few others you’ve come across in your travels. If you’re looking for the best food in Miami, I’ve put together a list of the must-try dishes and the best restaurants in the city to find them.

So, are you feeling hungry? You’ve got a lot to try on your plate — but make sure to save room for dessert. Whether you’re staying a week or only 24 hours in Miami, here are the 15 must-try foods and restaurants for any Miami itinerary.


Please keep in mind these details are subject to change. Due to COVID-19, social distancing and face coverings may be required. Be sure to check local health officials’ safety regulations and each establishment’s website for updated information before making final plans.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Please read my full disclosure policy for more information.


Local Foods to Try in Miami

1. Arepas at Doggis Arepa Bar

Arepas are one of the most long-standing and most well-known Latin foods. Deceptively simple, but oh-so-good, arepas are pan-fried cornmeal cakes with Colombian and Venezuelan origins.

You will occasionally find them stuffed with cheese, but, however you have them, they make a delicious accompaniment to any Latin meal or just on their own… or split and used like a pita… or topped with rice and beans. Arepas are so versatile that you can use them about anyway.

Doggi's Arepa Bar

Doggi’s Arepa Bar, with its three South Florida locations, offers over two dozen different types of arepas, with some of the signature options being the arepa Mexicana (served with grilled beef, avocado, and pico) and the arepa chicharron y queso (served with fried pork belly and gouda).

Address: Multiple locations

2. Empanadas at Graziano’s Market

Just like arepas, you can find empanadas in a variety of Latin cultures, so it just makes sense that they found their way to Miami’s dining scene. Whether baked or fried, you can rely on empanadas to contain a tasty, savory filling consisting of protein and veggies.

Graziano's Empanada

Graziano’s serves up a swathe of empanada options at its three locations throughout Miami, including in the Brickell neighborhood and in Coral Gables.

But even though empanadas are simple, humble pastries, don’t let that fool you into thinking that Graziano’s is the same; this high-end eatery is a perfectly suitable pick for a romantic date night. The empanada options range from chicken and tomato to lamb and potato to ham and cheese.

Address: Multiple locations

RELATED: Book these experiences for a closer look at Miami’s food and cultural scene


South Beach Cultural Food and Walking Tour

Little Havana Food, Cuban Culture, Mojito & Street Art Tour

Miami’s Wynwood Neighborhood Food and Art Walking Tour

Cultural and Food Walking Tour through Little Havana in Miami

A Taste of South Beach Food Tour


3. Cubano at Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop

If you want to experience Cuban culture without actually visiting Cuba, Miami is a good place to be. As such, no visit to Miami would be complete without trying a Cubano, otherwise known as the Cuban sandwich.

The delicious sandwich is traditionally made with ham or pork, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard; all smushed together between two slices of crispy, toasty bread.

Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop Cuban Sandwich Miami Florida

While there are many places to get a Cuban sandwich in Miami, one of the best restaurants in Miami for this sandwich is Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop. Budget-friendly offering dine-in service, and serving customers through a take-out window, Enriqueta’s is turning out huge, authentic Cuban food in Miami to rave reviews.

Address: 186 NE 29th St, Miami, FL 33137

4. Café Cubano – Cuban Coffee at Versailles

Of course, alongside your Cubano, or just to jumpstart your day, you’ll need some Cuban coffee. What exactly makes Cuban coffee different from any other regular ol’ cup of joe?

Cuban coffee is made with Cuba-originated espresso, sweetened with raw brown sugar. The result is a strong, thick brew that’ll cure any hangover after a night of reveling in Miami’s party scene.

Cuban Coffee Little Havana Miami Florida

Cuban coffee is so ingrained in Miami’s culture that 3:05 pm (also Miami’s primary area code) has become the unofficial “cafecito” break time, aka the afternoon pick-me-up coffee break.

Versailles Restaurant Little Havana, Miami

While you can pick up a cup of Cuban coffee at any ventanita (walk-up window) in the city, Versailles is one of the most famous Cuban restaurants in Miami and the place to get your Cuban culture and coffee fix in Little Havana.

When there, here’s what to keep in mind when ordering your Cuban coffee:

  • A cafecito is a tiny single serving of the really strong Cuban coffee
  • The colada is a four-ounce serving of coffee-to-go that is typically shared with a few other people using small espresso-style cups
  • A cortadito is that ultra-strong Cuban coffee cut with a bit of milk
  • And then the cafe con leche is more milk than coffee

Address: 3555 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135

5. Pastelitos at El Brazo Fuerte Bakery in Little Havana

What goes better with coffee than a fresh pastry? You can find pastelitos at just about any Cuban bakery in Miami. These puff pastry treats are filled with sweet and savory items, from cream cheese to coconut to fruit, and go great with your morning coffee as you ease through your Miami bucket list.

El Brazo Fuerte Bakery Guava Pastry

You’ll find some of the best pastelitos in Miami at El Brazo Fuerte Bakery, where they blend Cuban and French techniques for a range of tempting desserts and treats.

They fill their pastelitos with guava, cream cheese, and coconut on the sweet side; for those who want to try a savory option, they offer beef, ham, and tuna pastelitos.

El Brazo Fuerte Bakery Miami, Florida

The hubby, who first introduced me to this place, has been coming here for over 25 years for his fave, pizza pastel which is only available on the weekends.

Don’t fret if you are there on a weekday, the equally delicious meat, ham, and cheese-filled pastel prepardo is always a good choice. For my part, I can’t get enough of their pastelitos de coco (the coconut-filled variation).

Local Tip: After 5 pm all pastries are 2 for 1, so how’s that for a bakery happy hour?

Just ask for Danny, the founding owner’s grandson, and he’ll gladly provide recommendations and share all the deets and on these tasty treats.

Address: 1697 SW 32nd Ave, Miami, FL 33145

6. Frita Cubana at El Rey de las Fritas

You could spend an entire trip to Miami just dining on some of the city’s best Cuban cuisine. Next up on our list of the best food in Miami? Frita Cubana, or Cuban burger.

This hearty sandwich is made with pork and beef patties, and topped with shoestring potatoes and a Cuban bread bun. Optional toppings include spicy ketchup, lettuce, and onions.

El Rey De Las Fritas Cuban Burger

El Rey de las Fritas is a low-key, budget-friendly eatery specializing in these Cuban burgers. They’ve been in business for nearly 50 years, so you know they’ve got to be good.

The burger awards, Zagat rating, and features on the Travel Channel don’t exactly hurt their reputation either.

Address: Multiple locations

7. Haitian Griot and Pikliz at Griot 305

But Miami’s food scene takes inspiration from so many other cultures and islands in the Caribbean beyond Cuba. Take, for example, Haitian griot with pikliz, aka fried pork chunks, and peppery pickle slaw (not included in the image below!).

Griot is Haiti’s national dish that, traditionally, is made with pork shoulder and a citrus and chili marinade, with the pork cooked via broiling or frying. Griot is usually served with pikliz, or a slaw made with cabbage, carrot, and chili peppers. Sounds delicious, right?

I forgot to put the pikliz on top of the meal prior to taking the photo. But trust me it’s hot, spicy, and awesome. If you do not have a high tolerance for heat, it’s best to leave it out of your dish too!

Haitian Griot 305 Miami, Florida

You can try this scrumptious dish at Griot 305, known as one of the best spots in the city to find Haitian cuisine. Located in the North Miami neighborhood, the griot is the star of the menu, but other options include beef and okra, plantains, and stewed goat.

Address: 14821 W Dixie Hwy, North Miami, FL 33181

8. Haitian Patties (Pate) at Piman Bouk Bakery

Haitian Patties Piman Bouk Bakery Miami

This bustling bakery is one of the area’s few sources of hand-rolled, Haitian patty (Haitian pate). Golden and crispy on the outside, yet chewy (but not overly doughy) on the inside, they go particularly well with a fresh-brewed coffee.

It’s a favorite local spot, often crowded during breakfast hours, particularly on the weekends.

Address: 46 NW 62nd St, Miami, FL 33138

9. Mofongo at La Placita

If it’s Puerto Rican fare you crave, you can find that in Miami, too. Mofongo is a mashed plantain dish that’s a little like mashed potatoes in texture, and it’s one of the best Puerto Rican foods to try while in Miami.

La Placita is likewise is one of the best restaurants in Miami for Puerto Rican food, based off the OG La Palcita in San Juan and helmed by a James Beard-nominated chef and restauranteur.

You can’t miss the building with the giant Puerto Rican flag on its façade. It’s also a good choice if you’re looking for outdoor dining option in Miami.

While there, be sure to try the mofongo. You can even order a mofongo experience for your table, but give a glance at some of the other tasty menu items, too, like the pechu sandwich, a Puerto Rican fried chicken sandwich, and the pastelas boricuas, a Puerto Rican-style tamales dish.

Address: 6789 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138

10. Jerk Chicken at Naomi’s Garden Restaurant & Lounge

Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Colombia — Miami’s food scene represents so many countries around the region, and next up on our tour of the best food in Miami? Jerk chicken.

You’re probably already familiar with jerk chicken, but if not, know that you can expect a spicy grilled chicken dish that boasts a serious kick of flavor thanks to the traditionally-included scotch bonnet peppers.

Naomi's Garden Restaurant & Lounge Jerk Chicken Plate - Miami Florida

Naomi’s Garden Restaurant & Lounge offers a mix of Caribbean classics with jerk chicken being one of the most popular items on the menu.

And if you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just cutting down on your meat consumption, you can even try Naomi’s vegan jerk jackfruit for the same jerk flavors. Whatever you order, make sure you come hungry! The portions here are huge.

Address: 650 NW 71st St, Miami, FL 33150

11. Oxtail at Lornas Caribbean & American Grille

Another food that takes a top spot on our list of must-try foods in Miami: oxtail. A stew-like dish, oxtail is usually simmered away alongside butter beans for a filling, hearty meal that’s a staple of Caribbean cuisine.

Lorna's Caribbean & American Grille Oxtail Platter

For one of the best oxtail in Miami, you have to head to Lorna’s Caribbean & American Grille — deeply rich, tender, flavorful, and delicious.

Pro Tip: Ask for extra gravy, and be willing to commit as you inevitably will have to get your hands dirty, some slurping may be required.

Lorna’s offers a blend of Caribbean cuisine alongside American favorites, so everyone can find something to eat on the menu, no matter how picky their palate. If you are stopping by on a weekday, be sure to ask for the daily special.

Address: 19752 NW 27th Ave, Miami Gardens, FL 33056

12. Conch at Clives Café

Of course, the food in Miami isn’t only about the city’s rich heritage and cultural influences. Miami also channels its geography into its culinary landscape, with plenty of seafood. One of the top seafood options on many Miami menus? Conch.

Whether you like it raw, cooked, fried as a fritter, or swimming in gumbo, conch is most famous in the Bahamas, just a short ferry ride from Miami, but popular throughout much of coastal Florida, too.

Clive's Cafe Jamaican Food Miami, Florida

While in Miami, visit Clive’s Cafe for some of the best conch around. While Clive’s primarily focuses on Jamaican cuisine including jerk chicken and curry goat, the conch is highly touted, too, and served steamed, stewed, fried, or as a curry.

Address: 5890 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127

13. Stone Crab and Key Lime Pie at Joe’s Stone Crab

Another popular option for seafood in Miami is the Florida stone crab, a pricey piece of seafood that’s often served with mustard sauce. Joe’s Stone Crab specializes in the shellfish, as you may have guessed by the name, and is practically an institution in Miami Beach.

Joe's Stone Crab, Miami Beach, Florida

Founded in 1913, Joe’s has been serving the who’s who of the country for over a century. When you stop in, enjoy the stone crab claws chilled, cracked, and alongside that classic mustard sauce, but save room for dessert, too, because Joe makes a killer key lime pie.

Address: 11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

14. Cinnamon Rolls at Knaus Berry Farm

Whether you enjoy them for breakfast or as a dessert, who can say ‘no’ to cinnamon rolls? And while this locale is in Homestead, it’s worth the short drive out of the city to have some of the best cinnamon rolls in the region.

Knaus Berry Farm Homestead, Florida cinnamon rolls to go

We’re talking about Knaus Berry Farm, where you can pick your own strawberries and chow down on some amazing baked goods — including those famous cinnamon rolls. Buy them one at a time or in packs of six or 12, and don’t worry — if you fall in love, the farm will ship their cinnamon rolls straight to your door long after you’ve left Miami.

Note: Knaus Berry Farm and u-pick operate from late October through mid-April. It’s best to check their website for seasonal opening hours.

Address: 15980 SW 248th St, Homestead, FL 33031

15. The Kitchen Sink at Jaxson’s Ice Cream

Jaxson’s Ice Cream is a fun, South Florida institution. Family-friendly and filled with memorabilia, it has an old-timey ice cream parlor feel that brings out the kid in all of us. It doesn’t hurt that Jaxson’s has some of the best ice cream around.

Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor Kitchen Sink Ice Cream Sundae - Dania Beach
Photo courtesy of James Noel

If you’re traveling with a few friends, you’ll want to go with The Kitchen Sink, a specialty dish that’s meant for four or more people and that includes four pounds of ice cream (that’s 36 scoops), whipped cream, nuts, and cherries. And to make this dish even a little more celebratory, they’ll add a few sparklers to the top, too.

Address: 128 S Federal Hwy, Dania Beach, FL 33004

The Dining Options are Endless When You’re in Miami

Our list of favorite restaurants in Miami could go on and on — there are so many wonderful spots to grab a bite, regardless of what kind of cuisine you’re in the mood for. But, if you only have a limited amount of time in the city, you won’t go wrong with any of these 15 stops.

Or you can always join a local expert and uncover even more Miami food gems:


Miami Food Tasting and Art Deco District Walking Tour

Little Havana Walking Food Tour with Lunch

Eat Like a Local South Beach Food Tour


Must-Try Foods in Miami Map

Save this map to your phone and use it to plan your Miami food tour.


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