Best of Miami

The Ten Best Restaurants in Little Haiti

What’s in a name has never been more important than when you’re exploring the neighborhoods of Little Haiti and Little River. Even for locals, the borderlines can become confusing, but the community of Little Haiti pulled together to keep its historic name. Nonetheless, the culturally rich, artistically talented, and resilient members of the Haitian community have created an area uniquely and beautifully theirs. One of the joys people find when visiting Little Haiti are the diverse menus on every corner. From griot to cheesesteaks to seafood, Little Haiti’s range of flavors is a gift to those willing to explore. Here are some of the tastiest eateries in Little Haiti.

10. Rail 71 Café
Sandwiches, breakfast, and salads are some of the highlights at the new Rail 71 Café (7255 NE Fourth Ave., #111). Opened by a mother-and-son duo, the eatery offers choices such as the Rail sabich with grilled eggplant ($8.95) and the 71 tuna toast, made with albacore tuna ($10.75). The restaurant supports other local businesses by selling Zak the Baker bread and JoJo Tea. Rail 71 Café is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
9. Chef Creole
Chef Wilkinson Sejour was 22 years old when he opened the first Chef Creole, which now has multiple locations, including outposts in North Miami and Miami Gardens. In a competition-dense Haitian neighborhood, the chef and his string of eateries have paved their lane by mixing Haitian and Bahamian influences into a menu that ranges from conch salad to oxtail. The flagship in Little Haiti provides not only delicious meals but also the perfect ambiance for locals who enjoy the outside seating area. 
8. Fiorito
Brothers Cristian and Maximiliano Alvarez opened this charming Argentine restaurant in 2012. The wooden decor and interior design harks back to their hometown of Córdoba, but neighboring businesses such as Sweat Records, Churchill's Pub, and the local botanica make Fiorito 100 percent Miami. The pulpo a la plancha ($16) and empanadas ($3) are a nice way to start your gastronomic journey and prep you to dive headfirst into entrées such as braised short ribs a la riojana  ($19) and pork confit ($17). To finish off, visitors rave about the budin de pan with raisins and nuts or the panqueques with homemade dulce de leche.
7. Philly Grub
Owner Mark Scharnitz has gained street cred in the Miami food scene since owning his first eatery, the Corner Muse, and running Hearts of Palm Catering, a company that shares a kitchen with Philly Grub. Philly Grub is the tasty local alternative to Subway or Publix subs. All of its sandwiches cost $7.76, and for less than $10, you can upgrade your meal to include chips and a drink. Don’t leave without ordering an Italian ice or the popular Philly cheesesteak with fresh shaved sirloin and a choice of "whiz"  provolone or American cheese — on Amoroso's bread.
6. Leela’s Restaurant
Leela’s sits in the heart of Little Haiti, at 5650 NE Second Ave. It's a short walk from Churchill's, and the foot traffic in the area is heavy, especially on weekends. This family business serves traditional Haitian cuisine, and its authentically decorated interior blends in perfectly with neighboring pastel-colored businesses located by the Caribbean Marketplace. Be sure to visit this mom-and-pop for the tasty poulet (stewed chicken, market price) or tasso (fried goat, market price). 
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Christian Portilla is passionate about people and her city. She covers community, culture, and lifestyle in Miami and abroad. Follow her work on roamfreewrites.com.