Best Cuban Restaurant 2017 | Maruch Restaurant | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Ever stop by a Cuban abuela's house and the first thing she says is: "¡Mi hijo! ¡Pero estás tan flaco!" Before you can protest, she's serving you a heaping pile of ropa vieja on top of black beans and rice with a huge slice of yuca on the side. Well, that's what ordering a plate at Maruch is like. This Hialeah culinary institution doesn't know how to serve delicious Cuban dishes any other way. A lunch or dinner for one runs about $15 with a soft drink. For the adventuresome foodie, order the riñonada, calabaza, and fufu de plátano. The sweet flavor of the pumpkin and plantain provides a nice contrast to the steak's salty succulence. Or go for the rabo encendido, the Cuban version of oxtail soup, which patrons gobble up on sight. For diners seeking a safe pick, Maruch serves large slices of chuleta de puerco (pork chop) and palomilla steaks that can be paired with moros (black beans and rice) or cristianos (red beans and rice) for less than $12. A cantina-style restaurant just a few blocks from the City of Progress' administrative building, Maruch is also steeped in political lore. Don't be surprised to run into city gadflies and forgotten politicos in the dimly lit back dining room. You might even catch a crash course in the city's salty civics. Four years ago, erstwhile mayor-for-life Raúl Martínez had a run-in with Glenn Rice, a former Hialeah cop working behind the scenes for the current alcalde, Carlos Hernández. Rice snuck up on Martínez and began recording him. That prompted Martínez to jump out of his seat and accuse Rice of being a "pedophile" and "a man without a life and without a woman." So if you enjoy a side of Hialeah politics with your vaca frita and colada, head to Maruch. The restaurant is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Readers' choice: Versailles Restaurant

Zachary Fagenson

"This'll be quick," your friend assures you. "Just a pan de bono and a Postobon, that's it. Promise." Two hours later, you've slugged down who knows how many shots of the fermented rice drink masato, and your clothes bear the thick scent of grilled meat and fried pork belly. If you're looking for someone to thank for this Colombian sandwich oasis located between a Subway and a car wrap shop, give praise to Margoth De Horta, who persuaded her four children to open a place with her so the far-flung family members could be together again. Hence, today you can stop into Manantial for fresh blood sausages, a few quinoa-studded arepas, and a heaping bandeja paisa ($13.25) replete with grilled steak, chicharrones, smoked sausage, rice, red beans, avocado, and a tomato. Eat it up, and you're sufficiently prepared to head back out into the blistering sun and face whatever the world throws your way.

"Enough!" you exclaim after sitting through 20 minutes of traffic on Doral's NW 25th Street. After 30 and then 40 minutes, you're on the verge of tears. But hold on — what's that? You spot the sign for Mi Lindo Ecuador, nestled in a brick-red shopping center. You've plundered Peruvian fare, carved through Colombian cuisine, and annihilated Nicaragua's culinary delights. Ecuador is new territory, and because you're not moving in this traffic, you might as well stop for a snack, right? Smart move. Behold the bolón ($6). In the morning, find it in a breakfast that includes salty white cheese and crisp shards of chicharrón alongside a fried egg and chopped flat steak. At night, order it as an appetizer or side dish with an empanada de verde con queso ($6). For this four-biter, a single unripened plantain is pounded as thin as dough and wrapped around a sturdy rectangle of salty white cheese. A glimpse outside reveals the traffic is still thick as morning fog. Might as well settle in for a bowl of caldo de salchicha ($9), in which a fragrant broth sucks all the deliciousness out of fat blood sausage links while simmering bits of heart and tongue. It's all freshened up with plantain slices and green onion. Now, properly fortified, you'll enjoy a smooth ride home.

Tamer Harpke

Kohlrabi, lovage, and celtuce are not the most popular baby names of 2017; they're delicious edibles grown organically at Dania Beach's Harpke Family Farm. Built by the soil-stained hands of the enlightened and dedicated Claire and Tamer Harpke, the enterprise began with Tamer growing microgreens in the couple's backyard. They were a hit on the restaurant scene, so the two expanded their business to fill a full farm, complete with friendly pups, regular foodie visitors, a chickee hut for gatherings, and an impressive community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, which delivers weekly bounties of fresh, locally grown produce for $25 to $40 a week (depending upon the size of the share you'd like). Even if you can't make it up to Dania Beach, you can still try the Harpke's handiwork at some of Miami's best restaurants, such as the James Beard Award-winning Alter and Kyu.

courtesy of Fritanga Cocina de Dona Angela

Gallo pinto can mean either spotted rooster or a perfect mixed rice-and-bean concoction. If you want the former, you're out of luck. But nowhere prepares this Central American delicacy more deliciously than Fritanga Cocina de Doña Angela. Off Bird Road a bit west of Tropical Park, this Nicaraguan restaurant will fill you up on side dishes that cost $2 or even less — from gallo pinto to maduros (sweet fried plantains) to queso frito (fried cheese) and curtido (a cabbage salad similar to coleslaw). But don't gorge yourself too early. The $8.99 entrées of carne asada or carne desmenuzada also come with a generous heap of gallo pinto that will sate tu apetito. Chow down here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Fritanga Cocina de Doña Angela is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

These days, everyone has an eye peeled for the next great bite to come out of a gas station. Most of it is thanks to this paper-plate-and-plastic-fork spot that for years has dished out flaky corn tortillas packed with succulent shards of al pastor ($2.45) made with tender pork shoulder dampened with an intense chile arbol sauce that's brightened with a tangy hit of pineapple. The tongue and tripe tacos ($3.95) are just as skillfully griddled, with the former offering tender, almost milky shreds of the offal and the latter as delicate as 48-hour-braised short ribs. The beating heart of the place is a humble-looking salsa bar that each day offers no fewer than a half-dozen sauces ranging from a scorching habanero to a tangy tomatillo. Don't be afraid to pack some into little to-go cups and slather it over everything in your refrigerator.

Zachary Fagenson

Start with the taso kabrit ($12). If you're with friends, expect the succulent bits of goat meat to disappear from your Styrofoam container faster than soursop juice ($4) in July. Apouchy seems to put a little extra into all the Haitian standbys. The pikliz is spicier, the stewed vegetable dish called legume ($8) seems richer and more full of substance, and the shrimp in coconut sauce ($14) seems to burst with fat crustaceans. But it's the soup joumou ($8), served every Sunday, that has you thinking about this place in the middle of the week. The stuff is the symbol of Haitian freedom and is what the island nation's enslaved freedom fighters snacked on after ousting the French. Slaves weren't allowed to eat soup, but with their long-awaited and deserved freedom, they devoured the rich, pumpkin-infused broth sweetened with bell peppers and enriched with cuts of beef still attached to marrow-filled bones. Soup joumou is everything to Haitians, and after one slurp, it will be for you too.
Pork intestine with dried chili at Chinese Guy.

When searching for a traditional Chinese restaurant, Western diners often take the presence of Chinese customers as a good sign. West Miami-Dade's Chinese Guy is beloved by the countless Chinese students who attend the University of Miami and Florida International University. The eatery's owners are Tianjin natives Kun Bao and Yanan Cai, who just happen to be PhD students at FIU. When Bao arrived in Miami in 2010, he and his Chinese classmates quickly realized there was no place serving the food they grew up on. A few years later, that problem seems a distant memory. Northern Chinese dishes such as slender shreds of braised pig ears doused in ripping-hot chili oil ($7.95) come flying out of the kitchen. Buttery lobes of tilapia ($11.95) are poached with wood ear mushrooms, leaving the pearly-white flesh soft and floating in a pool of seasoned oil punched up with a hint of rice wine. A handful of scallion slivers and grated ginger are thrown in at the last moment, offering a pop of spice and nose-tickling perfume. The delights never seem to end: Corn or pumpkin cubes are fried in rich, salty duck egg batter ($12.95); sticky pig trotters are braised in sweet soy; and a heap of meaty rib tips come perched atop sticky rice ($8.95). This Chinese Guy will leave you begging for more.

Readers' choice: Tropical Chinese

Taylor Estape

Think about Chinese food and you'll probably picture mounds of breaded, fried meats covered in thick, brightly colored sauces that taste like someone dumped a pound of sugar into a vat of chicken Jell-O. And maybe that's fine, because you're not thinking about your arteries or cankles when you pick up food in your pajamas. But it's nice to have options — and that's what China Gourmet provides. Yes, this Palmetto Bay eatery serves sesame chicken ($9.99) in an orange glaze and jumbo portions of fried rice that far exceed a quart, and hands out fried egg rolls as if they were fortune cookies, but that's not the point. The salt-and-pepper chicken ($10.99) is surprisingly light while maintaining a peppery bite, and the dumplings ($6.35) put soggy, paper-thin, and tasteless ones to shame. So by all means, leave the six-pack on the coffee table and the pile of blankets on the couch, and avoid eye contact for the duration of your carry-out transaction — you can have your deep-fried cream cheese krab Rangoon ($4.50) and authentic egg foo yung ($8.55). China Gourmet is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 10:30 p.m.

When it comes to serving fast Chinese food, House of Chang doesn't hold back. Not even hurricane warnings stop this joint from cranking out take-out orders. Try the moo shi: shredded cabbage, wood ear mushrooms, golden needles, bamboo shoots, scallions, and eggs with your choice of meat wrapped in thin pancakes. For large orders, you can't go wrong with the boneless spare ribs, the house special fried rice, and the house special soup. The soft and lean rib meat is cooked in a succulent, sweet sauce. The house rice is loaded with fresh, tender cuts of beef. The special soup comes loaded with shrimp, white-meat chicken, roast pork, broccoli, snow peas, baby corn, leafy greens, and mushrooms. Stop by between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to take advantage of the 25 lunch specials for $6 or less. Combo plates with fried rice and an egg roll run about $8. House of Chang is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. It's closed Monday.

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Best Of Miami®