From fritas to gator bites and pastelitos, Miami’s got plenty of bucket-list-worthy eats to keep you busy until you kick it. Here are a few to get you started (and where to get ‘em!), including a ton of foods that you can only get in Miami. Just don’t eat everything all at once… we don’t want our list to be the incredibly ironic reason you actually kick the aforementioned bucket.
You’re not officially a Miamian until you’ve eaten a frita, the Cubano version of the American hamburger with papitas (aka matchstick potatoes) and secret sauce on Cuban bread.
Chicken ‘n’ watermelon ‘n’ waffles
The combo of chicken, watermelon, and waffles is about as Southern as you can get, that’s why it’s the essential menu item at this Southern-inspired restaurant. With honey hot sauce, Vermont sharp cheddar, and Bourbon maple syrup, it satisfies all the taste buds.
If you only eat one thing in Miami, it’s gotta be this mild and sweet local delicacy. Get it while it’s in season (October-May), and yeah, go on and wear that bib with pride.
Vanilla ice cream is mixed with cubes of guava, fluffy cream cheese, and Maria cookies, then drizzled with guava syrup. There are also other original flavors like café con leche (Cuban coffee & Oreos) and zapaticos de rosa (rose petal).
The last pit stop before the start of the Overseas Highway, it’s a fruit stand, food market, farm, and petting zoo that whips up the creamiest milkshakes in flavors like Key lime, papaya, tamarind, guanabana, and pineapple.
Josh adds Jewish flavors to Cuban classics, turning the Cuban sandwich into a one-of-a-kind Miami staple with pastrami, pork, pickles, Swiss, and mustard.
Short rib melt
While all of the melts are addictive, opt for owner Fatima’s go-to with braised short rib, Jack cheese, pickled onions, and arugula on sourdough bread. Pro tip: the backyard is the best seat in the house, even in the summer.
These fresh-from-the-oven sticky-sweet buns mean hours-long lines during tourist season, November through mid-April. Plan to get there early, ’cause they WILL sell out. For real!
World Famous Ted’s Special
As one of the only spots offering food on the island, you can’t consider yourself a true Key Rat until you’ve had the World Famous Ted’s Special, an open-faced English muffin with eggs, bacon, ham, cheese, and tomatoes.
Bangin’ Jamaican food is few and far between in these parts. Thankfully, this extra-authentic takeout spot will save you that trip to Broward with fresh-made patties with fillings like mild beef, spicy beef, curry chicken, jerk chicken, veggie, potato, the list goes on and on.
Finding a contender for the best croqueta is a highly debated topic, but these folks have mastered the whole crispy-on-the-outside and creamy-on-the-inside bit. The main location, out West, even has a drive-thru window for easier procurement.
Yes, “chapulines” translates into “grasshoppers.” Just don’t think about what it is and it’s the best bar snack you’ll ever have. Plus, there’s peanuts and cilantro in the mix.
The clásico keeps it, well, classic with a pairing of fluke, cilantro, ají limón pepper, red onions, choclo, and leche de tigre and some of the city’s most stunning views. It’s also one of EDM darling Paul Van Dyk’s faves.
Another rite of passage in Miami is rolling up to a ventanita, ordering coffee in perfect Spanish, and sipping it alongside Cuban senior citizens arguing over politics. If you do it at 3:05pm, Miami’s official cafecito time, even better.
When Michy’s turned into Cena, the #1 question on everyone’s minds was, “What about the buttermilk fried chicken?” Thankfully, it brought back the Endless Fried Chicken Feast. The downside is that it’s only available on Wednesdays during summer. Here’s hoping the place brings it back full time.
Cuban bibimbap bowl
This bowl of rice, vaca frita, carrots, zucchini, black beans, maduros, bean sprouts, kimchee, and fried egg is the personification of the restaurant’s mission, which aims to perfectly fuse Cuban, Peruvian, and Korean cuisines. Plus, it’s big enough to feed you for at least two meals.
Giant chocolate chip cookie
To cookie or not to cookie? That’s never a dilemma here with these ooey-gooey, chocolate chip-heavy giants.