Ten Miami Dishes to Eat Before You Die

Islas Canarias' croquetas are generously stuffed with ham and béchamel.
Islas Canarias' croquetas are generously stuffed with ham and béchamel. Courtesy of Islas Canarias Restaurant

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;
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;
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Islas Canarias' croquetas are generously stuffed with ham and béchamel.
Courtesy of Islas Canarias Restaurant
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;
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Clemence Filiasse Alpazile prepares a platter of fried chicken at Pack Supermarket.
Photo by Kristin Bjørnsen
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;
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Maureen Aimee Mariano is a freelance food writer for Miami New Times. She earned a bachelor of science in journalism from the University of Florida before making her way back to the 305, the city that first fueled her insatiable appetite.

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