9 Latin Food Experiences You Need to Have in Miami

Miami Food + Drink
by Priscilla Blossom Aug 9, 2016

1. The real deal fritanga and more in Sweetwater

Honest to God, this is the ONLY reason I workout. #absareoverrated #fritangafridays

Una foto publicada por Ivan Miranda (@ivan01miranda) el

Being part-Nicaraguan myself, I have a soft-spot in my heart for treats from the land of my people. And one of these is the incredibly indulgent raspado. It’s kind of like the Nicaraguan version of a shaved ice, except with extra sweet, fruity toppings like jocote, nancite, and tamarindo. But if you want the true heavenly experience, order the relleno raspado from Raspados Loly, doused in dulce de leche and filled with pound cake. But before you do that, make sure to get some real home-style cooking, complete with gallo pinto and queso frito, at any one of the numerous fritangas (a style of Nicaraguan restaurant), like Fritanga Nagarote or Fritanga Monimbo.

2. A Colombian-style perro caliente from Mao’s Fast Food

The first time I ever had a Colombian-style hot dog, I was at a friend’s barbecue. He introduced me to the magic that is squirting pink sauce and then topping your dog with crushed pineapple and crumbled up potato chips. If you don’t have an amazing Colombian friend to help you out with this phenomenal yet easy dish, hop over to Mao’s Fast Food, a joint that’s been doing dogs right since 1992.

3. Empanadas at Puerto Madero

Many Latinx cultures make empanadas, but Argentinians seem to make them out of pure magic. And if you’re looking for the real good stuff, Puerto Madero in Kendall has got your back. For about $2 a pop, you can get these little purses of goodness filled with ham and cheese, ground chicken, cheese and onions, shredded beef, mushrooms, spinach, and more.

4. Arepas everywhere all the time

Es que siempre seré #criolla #venezolana #depana #miami #arepa #reinapepiada #chevere #food #foodie

Una foto publicada por Francesca (@la_panqueca) el

While Venezuelans and Colombians in Miami are constantly bickering over who makes the best (personally I enjoy the sweetness of the Colombian but can appreciate a well-filled Venezuelan), it’s common knowledge that the bright-yellow, sweet Colombian arepas rule street food and special events in Miami. You’ll find them everywhere: the zoo, Bayfront park, at a ball game (any ball game…EVERY ball game), and also at places like Pueblito Viejo (which has a second location in Chicago). But if you’re more about the savory flavors, you’ll want to try the Venezuelan variety, filled with everything from X to X, and the best place for this is Doggi’s.

5. Mashed plantain dishes: mofongo or mangu

#mofongo #puertoricansmakeitgood #dominicanscandoitto #hialeah #mangucaferestaurant #miami #sazondominicano #sabordominicano

Una foto publicada por Mangu Cafe Restaurant (@mangucaferestaurant) el

Plantains are the french fries of Latin America, and just like potatoes are best served with cheese, plantains are never better than when they’re mashed. In the Dominican Republic, it’s all about the boiled version called mangu. Puerto Ricans make their own variety of the dish, but fried. You can devour both at several places around the city, including Club Tipico Dominicano–a popular spot that turns into a nightclub in the late evenings.

6. A Noche Buena complete with lechon and coquito

Everyone has Cuban food at least once in Miami, but not everyone gets invited to Noche Buena, a.k.a. the biggest Cuban feast of the year. It’s the latin equivalent to Christmas Eve, and the star of the night is always a giant, whole roasted pig, complete with a face. Dig in (or at least look on in awe), and if that’s not your thing, indulge in moros, tostones, and coquito–the signature alcoholic holiday beverage of Puerto Rico much beloved by all nationalities in Miami.

7. The Ceviche (basically everywhere)

Once upon a time, ceviche was a rarity in Miami. These days, ceviche joints are a dime a dozen. Even non-Peruvian restaurants often have a ceviche appetizer on the menu. If you want to go high-end, you’ll want to get a reservation at MesaMar Seafood Table in the Gables or check out any of the top-tier Asian-Peruvian fusion restaurants on the beach (where it may be listed as cebiche) . But if you simply want good ceviche for a quarter of the price, try the Taipa Peruvian Food Truck or Aromas del Peru.

8. Mexican food in Homestead, A.K.A. Little Mexico

There are good Mexican restaurants all around Miami, but you won’t find a higher concentration of them than down south in Homestead. Here you can get everything from tacos al pastor and nachos, to horchatas and micheladas. My go-to authentic spots in the area (because some are tex-mex, which is fine just not authentic) are La Cruzada and Taqueria Morelia.

9. Pupusas at El Atlakat

It’s not easy to get your hands on legit Salvadorean food in Miami, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Queue in El Atlakat, a restaurant in the Kendall area that serves up some of the best pupusas in town. If you’re not familiar with the dish, it’s basically made up of a thick corn tortilla that’s stuffed with all sorts of yum. Cheese-filled pupusas are the most common, but other varieties include refried bean pupusas, and pupusas stuffed with cheese, beans andchicharron (porkbelly), often called pupusa revuelta.

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