Mrs. Homie and I will be in Miami November 27th and 28th. We’d like to eat at an authentic, preferably local, Cuban restaurant. Ideally it would be in either Little Havana or South Beach, but that’s negotiable.
We care about:
[li]Reasonable prices (soft drink, appetizer, entree and dessert for no more than $30ish per head).[/li][li]Authentic Cuban food.[/li][li]Decent service - a lot of what I’ve read on citysearch makes it look like Cuban places aren’t exactly known for their friendly service.[/li][/ul]
We don’t care about:
[li]Michelin stars. A little hole-in-the-wall is fine with us, so long as it has table service and is reasonably clean and comfortable.[/li][li]An extensive menu. There’s only so much one can eat at one sitting, plus the entirity of our exposure to Cuban food consists of eating a “Cuban sandwich” at a counter service restaurant at Disneyworld, so it’s not like we’re looking for some obscure dish.[/li][li]Spicy food. I don’t know how spicy Cuban food generally is, but Taco Bell mild sauce is the upper limit of what I can tolerate.[/li][/ul]
Versailles Restaurant is **the **cuban restaurant of cuban restaurants in Miami. They have been in business for at least 30 years and you would have trouble finding a cuban american in dade county who has not eaten there at least a dozen times. The service can be hit or miss depending on when you go but the food is truly authentic and the prices should be within your range. Even with terrible service though, this place is definitely worth it if what you want is authentic cuban food in an authentic cuban atmosphere.
3555 S W Eighth Street
Miami, FL 33135
Also, cuban food is not spicy so i would not worry about that at all.
Yeah that’s the thing: Versailles would be at the top of my list were it not for the utterly horrible reviews its service gets. I’m not one who expects 3-star service at every meal, but from what I hear the staff at Versailles are openly hostile to customers.
My experiences don’t agree with those reviews. I have eaten there many many times and while service is sometimes slow it’s never been “utterly horrible” and I have never witnessed any of the staff be “openly hostile” to anyone. If it were really that bad they would not still be in business. That said, I have never eaten a meal there that took less than an hour and a half from being seated to getting out the door. But that’s true of almost all cuban restaurants so bring your patience and enjoy the food.
Another vote for Versailles… it really sets the standard for cuban food. I remember the food being completely amazing, as were the mojitos. Nothing about the service stood out-- good, bad or otherwise.
The only other thing of note that I remember about that night was getting completely lost on the way back to the hotel, and getting to see a few parts of Miami that I don’t think too many tourists visit, if you know what I mean.
I’ve been to Versailles a few times, most recently in November. I’ve never had an issue with the service (and in November, we were in and out of there in well under an hour at lunchtime), but as with many places in Miami, especially on Calle Ocho, you should prepare for the assumption that Spanish will be the default language. Not that people won’t switch to English when they realize you don’t speak Spanish (and nobody in Miami has ever given me crap for speaking English - even when they actually don’t speak English, they are apologetic about it), but you are likely to be addressed in Spanish first if you look even remotely like English might be your native language.
By the way, I highly recommend the shrimp in garlic sauce. I almost refused to share mine. And portions are huge; unless you’re just getting a sandwich, I recommend a Cuban coffee after lunch (or dinner, if you can deal with caffeine at night), and not planning to move too fast after you eat.
What I’m saying is that unless you feel the urge to practice your Spanish, in Versailles at least you won’t need to. It’s a bilingual place, it’s just that the default language is Spanish and most of the people you will see are native speakers.
It’s like espresso, but pre-sweetened.It’s kind of like injecting caffeine straight into your veins. But you can certainly order regular American coffee - the waitress will probably ask you which kind you want. Also, if you see them, you must order a guava and cheese pastry (guayaba con queso) - they are to die for. And try a side of ripe plantains (platanos maduros, or sometimes just maduros).
We went to Versailles a month ago when we were in Florida and enjoyed it. Cuban food isn’t particularly spicy. Your typical meal comes with rice, black beans and plaintains.
As for the service, just be prepared for Latin American notions of promptness. People don’t go to restaurants to get their food, choke it down and get out as soon as possible, a meal is expected to be a leisurely affair that stretches out over the evening.
I was born and raised in Miami, and am a fan of Cuban food (as said here, not spicy). I’d also recommend Versailles, and if you’re in North Miami, Little Havana is pretty good (with great croquetas and flan: http://www.littlehavanarestaurant.com/). If you want arroz con pollo, it WILL take at least 45 minutes, probably an hour. It will be great, though!
Also, there’s a reason why “Cuban time” is a popular phrase! The speed of the service may be just due to normal restaurant issues, or may be reflecting a looser definition of “on time”.