The competition for Miami’s favorite fried food is nothing short of fierce. Seemingly endless variations and regional styles of the quintessential croqueta are sold from street carts, high-end restaurants, and beyond. They’re inescapable. Yet who would want to escape them?
Whether served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time, croquetas have long been an iconic fixture at mealtime. Forget having just one. After biting into the crisp golden-brown cylinder, stuffed with the perfect balance of protein and béchamel, you can't help but reach for another.
The 305 offers many celebrated croquetas that come in various flavors, shapes, sizes, textures, and methods of preparation, and all are worthy of recognition. But let's direct you to the very best. Hint: They're not all from Vicky Bakery.
1. Islas Canarias. No other croqueta joint is worth standing in line for than the place that started it all in the '70s. Bringing the croqueta revolution to Miami, Islas Canarias is the expert at croqueta creation, and the pinnacle is the classic ham croqueta ($1.06), a creamy mix of béchamel and smoky specks of pink ham covered in golden breadcrumbs. Other croqueta options are chicken ($1.06), fish ($1.15), and beef ($.79). 13695 SW 26th St., Miami; 305-559-6666; islascanariasrestaurant.com.
2. Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop. The working crowds of Wynwood and midtown tend to pile into this cafeteria for a warm cup of café con leche and Miami’s best Cuban-style sandwiches. The famed sandwich cubano preparado con croquetas ($7) is one of them, which stuffs ham croquetas into a Cuban sandwich, made with ham, roast pork, melted Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard. However, Enriqueta’s deep-fried-to-order cylinders of goodness (80 cents each) can stand on their own. Go for the bacon variety, because bacon. 186 NE 29th St., Miami; 305-573-4681.
3. Doce Provisions. Justin Sherrer’s Doce Provisions offers a tasty, locally sourced menu of Latin-style sandwiches and other gastropub fare. The shrimp po'boy tacos ($8) and lechón asado buns ($8) are indeed tempting, but you’re here for the chorizo croquetas ($6), packed until plump with Miami Smokers’ chorizo, mostaza, and queso fresco. 541 SW 12th Ave., Miami; 786-452-0161; doceprovisions.com.
4. Palomilla Grill. Elevating this humble food is no easy feat. So leave it to the long-standing Palomilla Grill to show everyone how it's done. Crunch into mouthwatering ropa vieja ($6.95), goat cheese ($6.95), chorizo ($6.25), and ham ($4.95) croquetas for a taste of both tradition and evolution. 6890 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-261-3424;
5. Sergio's. Since 1975, Sergio’s has developed a group of croqueta fanatics spread across Miami-Dade and even Broward, with locations in Hialeah, Coral Gables, Doral, Kendall, Westchester, and Pembroke Pines. Their specialty is the ham croqueta (99 cents), deep-fried in extra-virgin olive oil. The result is a beautifully coated brown roll with the richest, creamiest, most flavorful filling. 3252 SW 22nd St., Miami; 305-529-0047;
6. Dos Croquetas. The beauty of Dos Croquetas is you don’t have to put forth much effort into procuring them. Let Miami’s first croqueta delivery company bring its handcrafted creations directly to your doorstep. The hard part comes in deciding which unconventional flavor you want: the 305, filled with Angus-style Cuban picadillo, plantains, and cheese; Mexican street corn; mac 'n' cheese and bacon; Buffalo crack chicken; Angus cheddar burger; or ham. If you can’t choose just one, Dame Mas ($13.49) lets you sample six flavors of the classic snack. 305-912-3672; doscroquetas.com.
7. Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. Everything you could ever want in a restaurant is at Sugarcane: a welcoming vibe, hand-crafted cocktails, and enough globally inspired dishes to satisfy even the pickiest eater. Unlike any other version, Sugarcane’s goat cheese croquetas ($9) are a marvelous treat. Dunk these bite-size morsels, packed with melted goat cheese, into a rich membrillo marmalade for a harmonious blend of sweet and salty. 3250 NE First Ave., Miami; 786-369-0353;
8. Bulla Gastrobar. Perfumed with the scent of Spanish potato omelets and veal and pork meatballs cooking in the kitchen, this buzzy Spanish Mediterranean-inspired eatery is also home to must-try ham croquetas ($7), served with fig jelly. They go best with booze — enjoy bottomless mimosas or sangrias for $18. The Bulla experience lets you indulge in the authenticity and flavors of Spain without having to leave Miami-Dade. 2500 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-441-0107; bullagastrobar.com.
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9. Old Lisbon. In a neighborhood full of croqueta choices, Old Lisbon will always be among the top — mainly for its take on the traditional. Made with Portugal’s famed salt codfish and potatoes, Old Lisbon’s bolinhos de bacalhau ($10.99) are balanced by their slightly sweet batter and offer a different kind of crunch, one you’d find in a conch fritter. 1698 Coral Way, Miami; 305-854-0039;
10. Sakaya Kitchen. Traditionalists, beware. As with every dish at Sakaya Kitchen, innovation is key. Enter dishes such as the spicy cheesy kalbi beef tater tots, a hot dog with kimchee, and the house-made dae ji spicy pork croquetas ($6). The Latin meal get an Asian twist, complete with a ginger-soy dipping sauce for optimal flavor. 3401 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-576-8096;