Ten Best Classic Miami Restaurants
With restaurants opening and closing every month, it's difficult to keep track of those that have truly stood the test of time -- the oldies but goodies.
To help identify Miami's classic eateries, New Times consulted with an expert on Miami culinary history, Mandy Baca.
The result is a list of the ten best restaurants dishing deliciousness that has kept them around for decades.
See also: Ten Best Hidden Gems in South Beach
The Arbetter family's joint offers a mixed-meat dog and a lot of bark. The cash-only place doesn't do anything wild, like Colombian-style dogs with crushed pineapple or veggie dogs. Arbetter does chili dogs, kraut, and corn dogs. If you praise the former Boston Celtics baller Larry Bird, you'll receive a free soda refill, and if the Red Sox ever win the World Series again, you'll get free Boston baked beans the next day.
Photo by Anais Alexandre
Though Uncle Tom's BBQ may predate this place, Shorty's stands tall. Edward Louis "Shorty" Allen began building his multilocation barbecue chain in 1951 in Miami. Although he sold it in the '80s (and lived until he was 104), his log cabin-style restaurant, the hickory-smoked chicken and ribs, and the creamy coleslaw remain the same. That consistency and perseverance allowed the restaurant to withstand Hurricane Andrew in the South Dade location. Even after a fire burned the original location near Dadeland Mall, an exact replica was rebuilt in the same spot.
Photo by Alex Broadwell
8. Sarussi Café
Serving the same giant sandwich for more than 50 years, Sarussi is an original. That is why you must order the original sandwich with baked ham, roast pork, mozzarella, pickles, and, of course, that secret sauce with a spicy kick. The 16-incher ($12.84) is massive, but the special Man v. Food variety -- inspired by the show of the same name, which paid the eatery a visit -- doubles your pleasure. This sandwich spot has earned a big place in Miamians' hearts.
Long before cold-pressing, juicing, and the Vitamix were major things, Athens brought fruit blends to North Beach. This healthful spot has been delivering the freshest juice since 1942. Its seven decades in the area means this place gets first pick of the top fruits and vegetables. So grab a stool at the orange counter of this old-school juice bar and slurp up the taste of sunshine in fun fruit flavors.
Photo by Emily Codik
Between Captain's Tavern and Captain Jim's, Miami has a long fish market/eatery history, but there's something about the Garcia brothers that make them seafood royalty. After coming to Miami from Cuba, the siblings established Garcia Brothers Seafood and opened La Camaronera in 1973. Crowds of standing-room-only patrons devoured what is now known as the most iconic fish sandwich in town: the pan con minuta. That was just the beginning of the Garcias' seafood and restaurant legacy -- what these brothers can do with fried fish will wow you.
5. S&S Diner
This '50s-style diner has been around since long before the '50s -- 1938 to be exact. Vintage movie posters line the walls, but this place enjoyed its own 15 seconds of fame with the film Last Night at the S&S Diner. The true test of any diner is breakfast, and S&S serves it over easy and at a price that makes you think you just traveled back in time.
Though Versailles on Calle Ocho doesn't date back to the Palace of Versailles built for Louis XIV, it has become almost as notable. Tour bus patrons file in, golden chandeliers and lustrous mirrors adorn the dining room, classic Cuban cuisine is served in portions fit for a king, and even a bit of scandal and politics factor into the mix. This restaurant, which opened in 1971, is a true Miami icon.
Photo by Zachary Fagenson
Legendary spots like Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House have come and gone, leaving exciting modern Jewish delis like Josh's in their wakes, but Stephen's has remained. Even as Hialeah's demographics have drastically changed, this New York-style deli has kept its classic Reuben and Rachel sandwiches on rye since 1954.
This past Valentine's Day, Frankie's Pizza celebrated its 60th anniversary. The day was fitting because there's nothing but love for this pizza joint. The square slices are simultaneously crunchy, doughy, and cheesier than any triangle slices around. Though Frankie himself is no longer around, his daughter Renee says, "Nothing has changed. We have people ask us how we stay in business this long, and the secret is that we've changed nothing except when we've been forced to." Patrons still appreciate the worn Formica counter and the fact that Frankie's remains a family business that doesn't take shortcuts in quality.
Weathering 102 stone crab seasons is no easy feat, yet Joe's continues to flourish and has never lost its integrity. Reservations aren't accepted at this legendary SoFi spot, so the wait is part of the experience, along with the famed crab claws, free parking, key lime pie, and impeccable service by tuxedo-clad waiters. Miamians salivate at the start of stone crab season not just for that sweet and tender meat but also for the throwback of the whole dining experience that's just better at Joe's.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst
Follow us on Facebook at Miami New Times Food & Drink.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Miami dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.