Playing dominoes on Calle Ocho. Getting nude on Haulover Beach. You know all the things you want to do in Miami before you die. But what about all the things you want to eat before you meet your maker?
With so much bucket-list-worthy fare in the Magic City and so little time, it’s time to kick that diet to the curb and eat as many of Miami’s most iconic dishes — the kind that visitors love and locals crave — while you still can.
1. Sweet stone crabs at Joe’s Stone Crab. Now open for its 104th anniversary, Joe’s Stone Crab remains Miami-Dade’s most iconic restaurant. If you’re fortunate enough to snag a table, order the signature meaty crab claws (MP), served fresh, flavorful, and already cracked. Dunk them into the accompanying simple yet delicious chilled mustard sauce for the optimal taste experience at this South Beach institution. 11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-0365; joesstonecrab.com.
2. Cinnamon rolls at Knaus Berry Farm. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Miamian who wouldn't make the hourlong pilgrimage to Homestead for Knaus’ warm, ooey-gooey cinnamon rolls. Newcomers will see that the hype and long lines are worth this taste of tradition. Pro tip: The line for Knaus’ creamy milkshakes is separate from the bake shop and moves quickly; order a milkshake to sip while you wait for those sweet, sticky buns. Get a dozen for $10.25, a half-dozen for $5.50, or one for $1.10. 15980 SW 248th St., Homestead; 305-247-0668; knausberryfarm.com.
3. Ham croquetas at Islas Canarias. The place that makes the best croquetas in the 305 remains a hotly debated topic, but the family-owned Islas Canarias set the standard in 1977. Miamians flock to West Dade for these bite-size cylinders of fried goodness ($1.06 each), boasting perfectly crisp exteriors and smooth interiors made with béchamel and smoky specks of pink ham. 3804 SW 137th Ave., Miami; 305-559-0111; islascanariasrestaurant.com.
4. Fried chicken at Pack Supermarket. Publix and Yardbird Southern Table & Bar are probably Miami's most popular fried-chicken contenders on either end of budget spectrum. But Pack Supermarket, a commissary and walk-up window in Little Haiti, serves some of the best home-cooked fried chicken that costs next to nothing. Prepare for the snap, crackle, and pop that comes with every bite of this $2.25, three-piece serving of juicy drumsticks. The recipe is deceptively simple: skin-on bird and hot oil. 8235 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-4777.
5. My Childhood Dream Burger at Lokal. Not all burgers are created equal, which is why Lokal and Salty Donut’s collaboration remains a hit. Sink your teeth into this heaven-sent doughnut burger, aptly named My Childhood Dream ($15), for a nostalgic mashup of epic proportions. Lokal’s mouthwatering four-ounce Florida grass-fed beef burger is topped with American cheese and candied bacon and served between two halves of a seared glazed doughnut by the one and only Salty Donut, Miami’s first artisanal doughnut shop. 190 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove; 305-442-3377; lokalmiami.com.
6. Barbecued ribs at Bo Leg's BBQ. If you’re looking for frills, go somewhere else, because Bo Leg's BBQ isn’t that kind of place. What you’re here for is the barbecue. The jerk chicken and beef brisket might be tempting, but nothing compares to the smoky, tender Southern-style ribs ($9) doused in Bo’s signature homemade mustard sauce. Tasty sides such as mac and cheese, sweet baked beans, and collard greens complete the meal. 250 NE 167th St., Miami; 305-303-2134; bolegsbbq.com.
7. Ceviche at Cvi.che 105. More than 15 styles of ceviche and tiradito will have you eating to your heart’s content at this trendy downtown restaurant. The vibrant selections of fresh seafood and traditional Peruvian fare make Cvi.che 105 feel like a year-round summer place. If your budget allows, sample the whole lineup — including the Pucusana 105 ($13.95), made with fish, and the Orgia ($15.95), made with a flavorful mix of seafood — bursting with flavor and hits of heat, depending upon your spice tolerance. 105 NE Third Ave., Miami; 305-577-3454; ceviche105.com.
8. Pizza at Andiamo. Miami doesn’t boast a regional style of pizza that rivals New York thin-crust or Chicago deep-dish, but Andiamo plates the best creative pizzas in the Magic City. Palate-pleasing specialty combos such as the Godfather, topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, onions, peppers, mushrooms, olives, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan, and the Ratatouille, topped with eggplant, zucchini, roasted peppers, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, tomato sauce, and mozzarella, make Andiamo's quintessential pizza joint a no-brainer. 5600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-762-5751; andiamopizzamiami.com.
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9. Cuban bibimbap bowl at Finka Table & Tap. Finka did not invent bibimbap, but sister-and-brother owners Eileen and Jonathan Andrade have crafted a version that pays homage to the dish’s “Seoulful” origins, as well as its new home: Miami. Fusing Cuban and Korean flavors, the eatery’s recipe blends the Cuban staples of white rice, vaca frita, black beans, and maduros with the signature ingredients in bibimbap: house-made kimchee, zucchini, carrots, bean sprouts, and a sunny-side-up egg. 14690 SW 26th St., Miami; 305-227-8818; finkarestaurant.com.
10. Traditional frita at El Mago de las Fritas. Although Ortelio Cardenas — better known to Miamians and even Barack Obama as "El Mago de las Fritas" — has stepped away from the griddle, you can still find him and his famed fritas at his old-school Flagami cafeteria. The traditional frita ($4) contains a beef-and-chorizo patty flavored with house seasoning, diced white onions, handmade potato sticks, and special sauces on a soft Cuban roll. Gussied-up versions topped with fried eggs or croquetas are also available. 5828 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-266-8486; elmagodelasfritas.com.