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The Ten Best Restaurants in Little Havana

Although the name implies it, Little Havana is not just a place to find Cuban food. Many great restaurants serve the island's cuisine, but this Miami neighborhood offers more than meets the eye. With an eclectic mix of traditional spots as well as hip bars and eateries, Little Havana is also a place that will surprise you with its seriously good culinary finds.

Clockwise from top left: Jungle curry fried rice, pad thai with shrimp, and green curry.EXPAND
Clockwise from top left: Jungle curry fried rice, pad thai with shrimp, and green curry.
Courtesy of Lung Yai Thai Tapas

Lung Yai Thai Tapas

1731 SW Eighth St., Miami
786-334-6262
lung-yai-thai-tapas.com


Lung Yai is undoubtedly Little Havana’s hidden gem. Thailand native Chef Bas offers authentic food for a bargain at this hole in the wall. Its increasing popularity means that at peak hours, you'll probably have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it. Order the shrimp dumplings ($5) or indulge in pad thai with shrimp ($13), made unique by Bas’ use of tamarind sauce. There are plenty of other dishes to choose from, including noodles and northern Thai specialties such as nam prik ong ($12) — marinated ground pork in a house curry. Heads up, though, you can order only once, so make note of everything you want first.

Arepitas with guyanese cheese at Cardon y el Tirano.
Arepitas with guyanese cheese at Cardon y el Tirano.
Courtesy of Cardon y el Tirano

Cardon y el Tirano

3411 SW Eighth St., Miami
305-392-1257
cardonyeltirano.com


Trying to classify the food at Cardon y el Tirano is nearly impossible, especially because chef/owner Francisco Anton doesn't label his cuisine. But the eatery is truly a find. Tucked away in a strip mall, the small dining room holds no more than ten tables, yet the menu offers a seemingly never-ending number of plates. Whether you order the Asian-style lechón dumplings ($11) or the Venezuelan-inspired arepitas ($4), you are sure to be transported to another part of the world.

Assortment of empanadas at Lekoke.EXPAND
Assortment of empanadas at Lekoke.
Courtesy of LeKoké Wine & Bites

LeKoké Wine & Bites

1225 SW Eighth St., Miami
305-848-5656
mviana.wixsite.com/lekoke


With an impressive selection of more than 300 bottles for purchase to take home or drink on the spot, Lekoke is the place for wine lovers. The family-owned wine bar and café also offers a vast menu of Spanish tapas. Best sellers include the classic cold omelet tortilla flamenca ($5.99) and flatbreads, particularly the smoked salmon and anchovies ($12.99). A knowledgeable staff is adept at recommending wine pairings, and the quirky decor adds warmth to this cozy spot.

The Barbecue Berkshire sammie.
The Barbecue Berkshire sammie.
Courtesy of Miami Smokers

Miami Smokers

306 NW 27th Ave., Miami
786-520-5420
miamismokers.com


If the bacon is not enough to persuade you to visit Miami Smokers, the delicious sandwiches will surely lure you. The duo behind this pork palace became popular for their smoked meats and soon began delving into smokehouse sandwiches with a twist. Don't miss the signature BBQ Berk sammich ($10), made with Berkshire butt, and the Midnight in Miami ($12), made with lechón and guava.

The famous Abuela Maria ice cream from Azucar.EXPAND
The famous Abuela Maria ice cream from Azucar.
Courtesy of Azucar Ice Cream Company

Azucar Ice Cream Company

1503 SW Eighth St., Miami
305-381-0369
azucaricecream.com


Although Azucar offers only desserts, its delicious ice cream makes this shop worth visiting. The owners were trained at the Frozen Dessert Institute and Penn State University Creamery. (Yes, those are real places.) Azucar serves more than 30 signature and classic flavors, including key lime pie, but Abuela Maria takes the cake. The concoction, containing the famed cookie by Goya, is so popular it’s trademarked. Two scoops of any flavor cost $6.

Lengua and al pastor tacos from Taqueria Viva México.
Lengua and al pastor tacos from Taqueria Viva México.
Photo by Cassie Glenn

Taqueria Viva México

502 SW 12th Ave., Miami
305-300-5597


Away from the bustle of Calle Ocho, you’ll find some of the best tacos in Miami. The menu at Taqueria Viva México lists only tacos and guacamole, but this place does them right. Order a classic chicken taco ($2) or, if you're feeling adventuresome, the beef tripe taco ($2.50). A filling meal here doesn't cost more than $10, making this spot a great lunch option.

The original frita cubana at El Rey de las Fritas.
The original frita cubana at El Rey de las Fritas.
Courtesy of El Rey de las Fritas

El Rey de las Fritas

1821 SW Eighth St., Miami
305-858-4223
elreydelasfritas.com


This local chain has several Miami locations, but there’s something specially charming about the original Little Havana restaurant. Find a wide array of popular sandwiches, such as steak ($5), but you must order the frita, a ground-beef patty topped with spices, sautéed onions, and shoestring fries on a Cuban roll. El Rey offers offer two varieties, but the original frita is the more popular and a bargain at $3.50.

Array of croquetas at Versailles Restaurant.
Array of croquetas at Versailles Restaurant.
Courtesy of Versailles Restaurant

Versailles Restaurant

3501 SW Eighth St., Miami
305-444-0240
versaillesrestaurant.com


A list of Little Havana restaurants isn't complete without Versailles. The Miami institution has been the unofficial town hall for El Exilio since 1971. However, this Calle Ocho icon serves more than just cafecito. Its Cuban sandwich ($6.50), with classic fixings such as sweet ham and Swiss cheese, is a winner with the fast-casual crowd, and a traditional roast pork Cuban-style ($10.95) is a hearty meal served with rice and beans. But if you simply want to stop by the to-go window — AKA la ventanita — for croquetas, no one will judge you.

Queso frito, Cuban spring rolls, barbecued pork tacos, arroz moro, and a banana daiquiri with coffee beans at Ball & Chain.
Queso frito, Cuban spring rolls, barbecued pork tacos, arroz moro, and a banana daiquiri with coffee beans at Ball & Chain.
Photo by Sari Marissa

Ball & Chain

1513 SW Eighth St., Miami
305-643-7820
ballandchainmiami.com


This lively bar serves some seriously good eats, along with cocktails inspired by the neighborhood. The food menu is extensive for a lounge. Of the 15-plus dishes, try the Cuban spring roll ($8), made with the traditional Cuban sandwich fillings of pork and cheese wrapped in spring-roll dough and served with mojo dipping sauce. On a sultry night, nibble some bites and sip a Miami mule ($12) while you listen to live music on the famous Pineapple Stage.

Ox stew with red beans and rice at La Carreta.
Ox stew with red beans and rice at La Carreta.
Photo by Megan V

La Carreta

3632 SW Eighth St., Miami
305-444-7501
lacarreta.com


Omitting La Carreta from a list that includes Versailles is like mentioning the Capulets but not the Montagues. The division of loyalty among patrons is that real. With multiple Miami locations, the restaurant is loved for its authentic Cuban fare. Try the vaca frita ($9.85), which consists of grilled shredded beef and onions with a side of rice and beans. The chicken breast milanesa ($9.95) is basically the Cuban iteration of chicken parm. Any meal here will make you feel like you’re at abuela's house.

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