Dine Latinland Miami: A Tiki Tiki Guide
This essay is part of the Hispanic Heritage Month series, Latinland USA, a Tiki Tiki guide of Latin-flavored city sites across the country.
It’s next to impossible to throw a rock and not hit a Latino eatery in the sprawling, urban metropolis of Miami-Dade. And if you’re staying near the downtown Miami area, you needn’t put a dent on your rental car miles to get a culinary tour of Latin America.
El sabor Latino esta aquí!
It’s no wonder Miami is called the Gateway to the Americas. Here are some tips for your best Miami international restaurants feast.
Ché, for your empanadas, gnocchis and partidos de futbol, stop by Novecento Argentinian Bistro next to gorgeous, tree-lined Brickell Avenue. Aprovecha al fresco eating and drinking in the cooler months; an outdoor terrace is a great setting for happy hour drinks from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. daily.
In a city where salsa reigns supreme, samba is not far behind. Miamians are quite obrigado for Botequim Carioca, which serves Brazilian specialties that any carioca would also enjoy at home in Rio de Janeiro. Meat lovers and lo-carbers will rave over the Baby Rodizio na Chapa, a filling assortment of beef, pork and sausage heaped on a sizzling plate. Of course, no Brazilian meal is complete without a refreshing caipirinha — cachaca (a cane spirit), lime and sugar served over ice.
If Miami Sound Machine would have sung “come on baby, shake your body, do that palomilla” it wouldn’t have had the same ring to it, but that’s what you’ll be singing after a meal at Bongo’s, owned by world famous singer Gloria Estefan and her producer husband Emilio. Located at a stunning waterfront location on Biscayne Bay, Bongo’s has all your Cuban classics as well as a tasty and unique Chinese fried rice with platanos fritos, of course. Wash it all down with a mojito — light rum shaken with muddled mint and sugar. Oyé, and if you do want to shake your body and do that conga, the restaurant turns into a club weekend nights.
Los Paisa pack this unassuming storefront in Brickell 24 hours a day, but it’s a favorite among the late night party crowd. La Moon serves all kinds of variations on the Colombian hot dog to satisfy those pre-hangover or post-hangover cravings — giving “hair of the dog” a whole new meaning. The Super Perro lives up to its name, loaded with smoked sausage, bacon and topped with quail eggs.
Orale! You won’t want to leave Miami with a jar of sauce from Rosa Mexicano in Mary Brickell Village. And you’ll wonder how you ever lived without Guacamole en Molcajete, a glorious ode to avocado prepared fresh at the table with jalapeño, tomato, onion and cilantro.
Donde esta el beef? It’s in Bayside Marketplace at Los Ranchos Steakhouse, with a signature tenderloin and jalapeño cream sauce, served with plantain chips, rice and red beans. And because three is better than one, try the Tres Leches — a sponge cake soaked in heavy cream as well as evaporated and condensed milk.
For seafood on a budget, let your taste buds journey to South America at Sabor a Peru. Located just north of downtown, the Peruvian restaurant looks humble but the homestyle cooking would satisfy any Inca god. Ceviche, the country’s most famous export — fish and shellfish “cooked” in lime juice and spices — comes in hefty portions.
We can’t end this guide without another detour to the Caribbean at the Isla del Encanto. A short drive from downtown Miami, Jimmy’z Kitchen Wynwood restaurant serves up piping hot, made to order mofongo every day. Imagine mashed plantain, chicharón and garlic compacted into a ball, served with tender shrimp in a robust tomato salsa criolla and you’ll understand why this is a popular local’s favorite. The restaurant also hosts traditional Puerto Rican bomba y plena musical jam sessions.
Find out the Five Things to Do in Little Havana from a past essay in the Tiki Tiki.
Maria de los Angeles is a Miami-based freelance wordsmith. She writes for a variety of publications and publishes a blog, Sex and the Beach. Her favorite topics are travel, social media, tech, humor, sex and of course food and culture — not necessarily in that order. Learn more at Wily Wordsmith.