The perfect croquetica is a thing of science. You don't want too much or too little breading; its shell needs to be perfectly battered without being greasy. And its innards must have equal amounts of protein and béchamel so that you get meat with every nibble.
Luckily, these golden pipes can be found at café windows and restaurants all over town. But not all croquetas are created equal. Some are filled with chunks of jamón serrano and manchego cheese, while others feature meat that's a smooth paste. Then there those that forgo the archetypal ham and instead pack surprises like smoked local fish, shrimp, and even bacon.
What follows are Miami's ten best croquetas.
10. 27 Restaurant & Bar
There's only one place in town where you can get smoked fish croquetas made with local catch, and that's 27 Restaurant & Bar. Although these puppies are available only once a week, during Sunday brunch, that's probably a good thing; otherwise, you might eat them daily. Elad Zvi and Gabe Orta are all about fusing Miami's influences, and what better way to combine the quintessential Latin finger food than by taking it to neighboring waters and smoking the fish in house.
9. Old Lisbon
Perhaps you've never had the bolinhos de bacalhau at Old Lisbon, but you should, because these codfish "croquettes" that forego the breading and are closer to a conch fritter than a traditional croqueta are oceanic treasures. Lightly fried, the poofy exterior instantly gives way to the filling, which isn't overly salty (as you might expect from cod) and oh so creamy. If you're wondering why they're served with a bean salad, all you need to do is mix a bit of bolinho with the black-eyes peas, onion, green peppers, and vinaigrette to understand.
8. La Gamba
You've had cod and fish croquettes, but have you had shrimp? Probably not, unless you've been to La Gamba. Pay a visit to this little Spanish restaurant that could. In addition to garnering points for originality, La Gamba's croquetas won us over because of their complex flavor profile, which is twofold. Shrimp bits sautéed in onions are the obvious part, but there's also house-made seafood broth mixed in to the thick béchamel, so you taste the sea with each and every bite. Plus, they're served with squid ink aioli for your dipping pleasure.
7. Asador 5 Jotas
Newcomer Cinco Jotas is already making waves with its northern Spanish cuisine, and though the restaurant only recently opened, its croquetas de bacalao taste like they've been handed down through generations. Besides tearing at the gentle touch of a fork, the spherical wonders take hours of preparation so that the béchamel and flaky cod filling form a creamy union of textures and flavors.
6. The Bazaar
What would be considered unacceptable behavior at home (like putting your shoes on the table) is standard at José Andrés' culinary wonderland, the Bazaar. But the shoe in this case is a custom glass sneaker that holds not feet but some of the best chicken croquettes you'll ever try. The impeccably cooked and seasoned poultry makes this creatively presented $12 dish worth every penny.
5. Bread + Butter
Craving a medianoche and a croqueta? Why should you have to choose one when you can have both at Bread + Butter. Rather than cylinders, these spheres of golden perfection are chock full of all the ingredients that compose a medianoche. That means your croqueta has the usual ham, but also Swiss cheese, pork, and pickles. Wondering where's the mustard? It's served as an aioli on the side, right along with soda crackers in case you want to make your own croqueta preparada or medianoche croqueta sandwich. Mind blown.
You might have to fight the crowd at Enriqueta's take-out window to get your hands on one of the eatery's fried-to-order, colossal ham croquetas, but the sweet, salty, crunchy, and creamy fritters are worth every bit of struggle you had to endure. And if you want to make your wildest croqueta dreams come true, order the bacon version.
Sergio's ham croquetas are like Tic Tacs — you can eat 'em like candy. Maybe it’s because they don't contain chunks of ham but rather a smooth paste that makes chomping them down so much easier. Or maybe it's the plethora of other flavors that coexist within one single croqueta. The brown tubes ooze with flavor from onions, peppers, and plenty of garlic. The secret: They're deep-fried in extra-virgin olive oil to make them extra-delicious.
2. B&S Gastropub
These babies won the people's choice award at Croquetapalooza. Packed with copious amounts of serrano ham and manchego cheese, each croquette brings a mouthful of bold flavor. The brininess of the ham and richness of the cheese could get overpowering if it weren't for the ingenious use of guava sauce to balance everything out and provide a sweet ending.
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1. Islas Canarias
There's a reason why Islas Canarias has been a Miami landmark since 1977, and that's the ham croquetas. But even after three decades, the recipe remains a well-kept family secret. On the outside, they're crisp and sturdy. But bite into the shell-like façade, and you'll uncover a tender and smooth interior that has the perfect ratio of béchamel and smoky specks of pink ham. It might not be love at first sight, but it's certainly love at first taste.