Given its myriad culinary influences you might expect Miami to be an exciting foodie destination. For the most part this is true – although finding a good coffee or a real American hamburger can be hard work. Most visitors will naturally want to sample the pre-Castro fare in Little Havana, but some of the city’s best eateries can now be found in Miami Beach, Lincoln Road Mall and Downtown Miami.
Ocean Drive is very touristy tends to be a little hit and miss in the food department, but is fine for a quick bite, a happy hour cocktail and some people watching.
Describing itself as the “world’s most famous Cuban restaurant” Versailles is located in the very heart of Miami’s Little Havana district. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, this baroque pleasure palace serves everything from man-size grilled sandwiches to traditional Cuban fare – come here for your fix of black beans, plantains, shredded beef, yucca, sautéed shrimp, Imperial Rice and other island favourites.
Pollos & Jarras
Miami is crazy about marinated raw seafood and this boisterous diner in Downtown Miami serves some of the freshest Peruvian-style ceviche in the city. Choose from market fish, shrimp or octopus – and add your favorite spicy chili sauce. Carnivores will enjoy the amazing grilled steaks brought to the table still sizzling. Wash down your meal with a couple of ice-cold Peruvian lagers.
Tap Tap Restaurant
From the outside this local diner looks a little shabby, but a warm welcome, some brightly painted murals and plenty of authentic Haitian flavours are waiting inside. The menu includes many unfamiliar items such as grilled goat, conch Creole and stewed oxtail but it’s hard to find fault with anything here. Prices are very modest and the staff will also mix you a very mean tropical fruit cocktail.
Part of the swish new Miami Beach EDITION hotel, the ultra chic Matador Room channels the design spirit of 1950s Miami but the modern Latin food here, created by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is bang up to date. The menu blends Spanish, Caribbean and South American flavours – guests choose from a dazzling array of small and large plates. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner.
In a city where pizzas, fried chicken and burgers seem to hold sway it’s refreshing to find anywhere that serves wholesome and yet delicious local fare. Located on Purdy Avenue, South Beach, Icebox is famous for its toothsome salads, freshly prepared pastas and Indonesian-inspired dishes. The interior design is suitably fresh and Nordic – but there are some wicked desserts if you wish to stray.
The Café at Books & Books
Miami is not a book-ish sort of place. Most people are too busy jogging, rollerblading or shopping to read. But this pavement café in the heart of Lincoln Road Mall is a sanctuary for literary types. The café is easy to find thanks to its large blue umbrellas. Come here for a hearty brunch (try the crab cakes benedict) and a proper espresso coffee – and later explore the bookshelves crowded with American fiction and art and design titles.