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  1. #1
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    Default Best Cuban food in South Beach

    I've been told that I have travel into the city to get the really good Cuban food...nonetheless, I'd like to hear people's recommendations for the best Cuban food in the South Beach area.

    And, does anyone recall the name of the Cuban restaurant/cafe in the Lincoln Road Mall (I'm assuming there is only one - perhaps not)? Lincoln Road Cafe maybe? And how does this place rate as far as good Cuban food goes?

  2. #2
    Gus
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    I think Puerto Sagaua is the best. When I go, I order the Palomino steak with salad, fires, rice and black beans.

    Doug recently posted about his experience there (see: the review).

    The fast food restaurant, Pollo Tropical, is also pretty good.

  3. #3
    Suzanne C
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    Hey s1lv3rtwenty2.

    The best Cuban food is at either Wiwa's or Cuca's house. But since Capt Otter and I are very healthy, stingy eaters, we keep our grandma's cooking to ourselves!

    Is the Lincoln RD place that you're thinking of the Lincoln Road Cafe? ...located at 941 Lincoln Rd. Is this the spot?

    As for other restaurants, definitely try Puerto Sagua that Gus mentioned as well as Pollo Tropical (the Cuban BK). You might also want to try David's Cafe, Larios on the Beach and even Yuca.


    Crap. Now I'm hungry... Luckily, I'm <strike>almost</strike> Cuban and cook for myself.

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    You are so right on that one, Suzy! No one made lasagna like my Italian Grandma...and when I asked for the recipe, she just gently tapped her temple.

    Yes, I believe Lincoln Road Cafe is the place of which I am thinking. How does that rate in your book as far a good, authentic Cuban food goes? It was actually the very first place which I ever had Cuban food (Ropa Vieja). I've since visited some Cuban restaurants up here in the DC area, but they just don't seem to be able to re-create the same flavors.

  5. #5
    Suzanne C
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    The thing with being Cuban s1lv3rtwenty2 is that you don't need to go to a restaurant to eat any of the foods.

    I can tell you that I've eaten at Pollo Tropical because I am lazy and it's a perfect, fast food solution to dinner for my son without having to feed him frozen patties and greasy fries. I've eaten @ David's Cafe because it's open 24hrs and a much better option for apres-Club eating than Washington Ave Sidewalk Pizza. I've eaten at other Cuban restaurants on special occasions like a Baptism, Wedding Rehearsal, B-day party... but Ropa Vieja, I can make myself so why drive, wait and pay for someone else to make it for me? When you wanted lasagna, you went to grams right? Catch my drift?

    Have you ever tried Vaca Frita?

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    Excellent point, Ms. Suzy. If you can make ropa vieja like my Granny could make lasagna, then I'd like to reserve a seat in your kitchen right now! :)

    No, I've never had Vaca Frita (my exposure to Cuban food is quite limited)...but I just googled it and it sounds delicious. This is great - I'm 3 weeks away from my trip, but I already know what I am ordering for dinner when I get there. Thanks again.

    Oh, I almost forgot - thank you Gus for your advice as well.

  7. #7
    Preferred Member jenn-NY's Avatar
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    If you do venture off South Beach and into Miami, there's a fast food place in Little Havana called El Rey de Fritas - in other words, Frita King or the Cuban Burger King. My Cuban father took us there when we came down a month ago. They have these little seasoned burgers (with cheese if you like), and tiny papas fritas on top, on these soft buns. They're so good. You have to have 2! No, really 2.
    Unless you can find these "fritas" somewhere in South Beach? Anyone know?

  8. #8
    Gus
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    Your welcome, s1lv3rtwenty2!

    Yes, I believe Lincoln Road Cafe is the place of which I am thinking. How does that rate in your book as far a good, authentic Cuban food goes?
    I've eaten at Lincoln Road Cafe a few time, and have always been happy with my meal. One thing it has over Puerto Sagua is outdoor dining. Another nice thing about the restaurant is it's located right next to Books and Books - a good spot to people watch.

    jenn-NY, thanks for telling us about the papas fritas.

    Unless you can find these “fritas” somewhere in South Beach? Anyone know?
    Don't most Cuban restaurants serve papas fritas with the meal?

  9. #9
    Suzanne C
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    Oh Gus...

    She didn't say papas fritas, she said a FRITA. Incidentally, as a general rule of thumb, I think Cuban restaurants offer fries as a side just 'cuz of geography...but no one orders them. If you really want fries with a Cuban meal, ask if they have Yuca fries.

    'What exactly is a Frita' you ask Gus? A Frita is a Cuban hamburger. It's a (predominantly paprika and onion) seasoned, small ground beef patty that is fried on a hot griddle and served on a bun. Depending on how you like your Frita (pronounced free-tah), you can add condiments and other stuff..but a TRUE Frita only has the burger patty and fries (and maybe onions..I LOVE ONIONS). The fries in the burger are usually shoestring potatoes (like the ones you can buy in little cans) but my favorite Frita maker uses potato shavings that look like onions that have been fried to high hell.

    I'm getting hungry...

    I hope I don't get hate mail for this because yes, El Rey de las Fritas along with Sergio's Cafe make some good Fritas, but in my opinion, NOBODY makes 'em better than Morro Castle on NW 7th ST and roughly 25-26th Ave. This place has been around since my momma was a kiddie so CLEARLY they're doing something right!

    Two Fritas and batido de mamey would really hit the spot right now...

    Is it time for dinner yet?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Doug's Avatar
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    Sorry to break up this little Cuban food love fest, but the Lincoln Road Cafe is no more! It is now the Hofbrau Munchen, home of the Dave-sized German beer!

    I used to like the Lincoln Road Cafe, too. It was refreshingly down-to-earth and inexpensive, in a not-so-down-to-earth and inexpensive location. Maybe that's why it has passed on.

  11. #11
    Gus
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    I hate to hear that Lincoln Road Cafe closed. We are talking about the restaurant across from Touch and next to Books and Books, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by s1lv3rtwenty2
    It was actually the very first place which I ever had Cuban food (Ropa Vieja). I've since visited some Cuban restaurants up here in the DC area, but they just don't seem to be able to re-create the same flavors.

    … but Ropa Vieja, I can make myself so why drive, wait and pay for someone else to make it for me?
    For those like me who've yet to try ropa viaja, Wikipedia has a nice picture and description:
    Ropa vieja, which is Spanish for "Old Clothes," is a popular Caribbean dish consisting of shredded beef (often skirt or flank steak), vegetables, and a sauce.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Senior Member Doug's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's definitely the same spot. I went looking for the Lincoln Road Cafe one evening when I was visiting here last January, and sadly discovered that it wasn't around anymore. So I went to the Van Dyke Cafe instead.

  13. #13
    Suzanne C
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gus
    For those like me who've yet to try ropa viaja,
    Are you asking me to make some for you boss?


    Incidentally, see that small plate in the background (to the right)? Those are Yuca fries being dipped in mojo.

  14. #14
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    Woohoo Suzy! Thanks for the clarification/education in Cuban food. You threw me for a loop when you tossed in batido de mamey, but through my powers of deductive reasoning (and a little help from Yahoo), I have discovered that this is a Cuban shake made from a unique fruit with a pale pink flesh. Care to elaborate? Is there anything to which the flavor might compare…in my rather Amero-centric lexicon of fruit items? If it is anything like the previously-unknown-to-me tropical Vietnamese fruits which I have sampled, it must be tasted to be understood.

    Thanks for the pic Gus – I can almost taste that plate of ropa vieja now… I&#39;ll be sending you my keyboard cleaning bill to get the drool off! I am so hungry right now.

    I am a little disappointed to hear that the Lincoln Road Café is no more. While it may not have been a Miami institution, it was the very first place in Miami I ate and the locale for one particularly memorably romantic meal…but that is a story for another time. Nonetheless, thank you for the information Doug as I am certain I would have spent several frustrated trips up and down the length of the Mall saying to myself, “I know that place has to be here somewhere!”

  15. #15
    Senior Member Doug's Avatar
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    heh heh, that's exactly what I did last January! Walked up and down saying to myself, "Now I know it was right by Books & Books...!"

  16. #16
    Gus
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    Are you asking me to make some for you boss?
    Suzy, I told you not to call me boss around here. It embarrasses me when you say that.

    That being said, a plate of ropa viaja sounds delicious! Just no ox tail please. Yuck! I should also confess, I prefer papas fritas over yuca fries.

    I can almost taste that plate of ropa vieja now… I&#39;ll be sending you my keyboard cleaning bill to get the drool off!
    My apologizes, s1lv3rtwenty2. We'll gladly send you a new keyboard after your visit. %-P

  17. #17
    Preferred Member jenn-NY's Avatar
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    I actually prefer the plantain chips -the platanos, or the green bananas that are sliced and fried like potatoe chips. That's the one thing my Cuban grandmother taught my Italian mother how to make and she taught me. We got to have them at Little Havana in North Miami.

  18. #18
    Suzanne C
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    Jen-Ny, do you mean mariquitas?

    Here I'll admit, Sergio's makes these best!!!!

    A Presidente and some mariquitas...

    This thread makes me hungry EVERY time I write/read it!
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  19. #19
    Preferred Member jenn-NY's Avatar
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    Those are exactly the ones! I bought a slicer for them in the Cuban store in Miami.
    Just wondering, is there anywhere in South Beach we would be able to get a good Cuban sandwich and some mariquitas after going to the clubs??? That would be very cool.

  20. #20
    Suzanne C
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    Hands down:

    David's Cafe.

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