8 Places to Experience Miami’s Diverse Global Food Scene
It’s not just Cuban (though that’s amazing, too)
Miami is a truly international city, and the diversity of the food scene is proof positive. While the phenomenal local Cuban cuisine is no secret, the buck doesn’t stop with lechón. From Peru to Guyana, Serbia to Venezuela, Miami has no shortage of international flavors on offer. Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive hole-in-the-wall or a fine dining table boasting foreign flair, we’ve got the spots for you.
West Indies meets South Florida at this delicious halal café and grocery that taps into the founders’ Guayanese background. Fresh roti wraps are the staples of this menu, folded around your choice of fillings like curried goat stew, beef-potato or a vegetarian offering with pumpkin, spinach and chickpeas. Be sure to grab extra roti (dubbed “skins” by the staff) to soak up all the delicious sauce. And if you’re really hungry, be sure to snag a few samosas or Jamaican beef patties.
184 N. University Drive, Pembroke Pines (map)
Miami’s top hookah spot doubles as a Serbian culinary destination, offering classic recipes served with the generosity and humor the founders say is at the heart of any gathering in their native land. Balkan beef sausages known as cevapi come with freshly baked pita; Karadjordjeva schnitzel, a rolled cutlet of chicken or pork, is stuffed with fresh kajmak cheese before being breaded and fried. Less adventurous diners can also dig into a host of more classic American specialties like steak, pasta or even pizza. Either way, be sure to try the rajika, a Serbian brandy made from myriad fruits from pear to apricot.
1131 Collins Avenue (map)
What would Miami’s dining scene be without Cuban influence? Luckily, we never have to find out. Everyone has their favorite, but Sanguich de Miami is definitely worth a trip, especially since the sandwich counter earned its Michelin Bib Gourmand nod. Just six sandwiches are on offer here, piled on house-made bread brushed in rendered pork fat before being pressed to perfection. The lechón with garlic-cilantro aioli is great, and the house-special Sanguich de Miami is phenomenal, with turkey, hand-cut smoked bacon and Swiss. But the Cuban is truly exquisite, boasting lechón marinated for a whole week before being cooked to perfection and paired with ham, Swiss, pickles and mustard. Grab a side of chicharrones and a guava and cream cheese milkshake, then head home to sleep it all off.
2057 SW 8th St (map)
Since 2011, the team here has been cooking up Venezuelan comfort food with a particular eye towards arepas. Within these crispy, corn-based pockets, you’ll find fillings ranging from cheese and plantain to pork sausage and avocado to the house special marrying gouda, bacon and avocado. Or venture away from arepas to sample tasty tequeños (aka Venezuelan cheese sticks), empanadas or traditional corn cachapa pancakes with fresh white cheese. Famished diners should snag a platter featuring anything from roast beef with rice and plantains to chicken with quinoa, avocado and black beans. All the meats here are antibiotic- and hormone-free, and vegetarian and vegan guests are given far more than lip service. And on weekends, this spot is open until 4 a.m. for all your late-night cravings.
3509 NE 2nd Avenue (map)
This Michelin-starred restaurant helmed by chef Juan Manuel Barrientos is a feast for the eyes as much as for the palate. From the open kitchen, the team infuses the fine dining tasting menu with Colombian flavors and an avant-garde approach. This may mean diners dig into pretty crab empanadas evoking the crustacean in form and in filling or aborrajado, a cylinder of sweet plantain filled with guava gel, amaretto and cream cheese. The restaurant has also become famous for its choco-therapy, a course where melted chocolate is poured over the diner’s hands, to be licked off. It’s a total break from the solemnity of such fine dining atmospheres, but it’s definitely an experience.
31 SE 5th Street (map)
Atchana’s Homegrown Thai boasts all the classics from pad Thai to crispy duck, but it goes a step further than most. Not only is an entire section of the menu devoted to srirachas from all over the world (including the house-made mango), but special care is paid to house specialties like crispy duck with homemade five-spice sauce or Florida-caught grouper simmered in your choice of curry sauce.
3194 Commodore Plaza (map)
Gaston Acurio’s La Mar deserves all of its accolades. This love letter to the sheer variety of Peruvian cuisine offers a range of flavors from upscale neo-Andean fare to Asian-Peruvian fusion, and executive chef Diego Oka lends his own nikkei flair to the offerings. Of course, seafood plays a starring role: start with made-to-order ceviche pairing Peruvian trout with pickled veggies, peanuts and crispy noodles or fluke with choclo, sweet potato and classic leche de tigre. Or venture into the world of tiradito, with hamachi mingling with blue crab, avocado and smoked trout eggs or fluke with 24-month Parmesan cheese, basil oil and garlic chips. A range of cold and hot appetizers may include trout mousse-stuffed churros or Argentinian veal heart with confit potatoes and choclo. Crispy pork belly served with aji panca or Peruvian trout glazed in Korean ssamjang and kimchi are just a couple of larger mains. Dig into these and other delicacies while enjoying gorgeous views over Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline.
500 Brickell Key Drive (map)
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