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As America’s gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, Miami boasts every imaginable type of cuisine from this immensely rich tapestry of countries and cultures.
One of the most striking recent additions to the scene has been Quinta La Huella, opened in May at the city’s cool new East Hotel. It’s special because it marks the first time this Uruguayan favourite, known there as Parador La Huella – and #17 on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants – has ventured outside South America. In Uruguay they’re a beachside grill in a quiet coastal town, famous for their legendary skills cooking over fire. In Miami, the huge metal ‘parilla’ grill is just as critical, with head chef Alejandro Morales serving up breathtaking fish, meats and vegetables to a relaxed urban crowd. Brilliant ceviches, dulce de leche desserts and dangerously–good cocktails show that their skills extend far beyond one dimension.
For Haitian cuisine, look no further than Tap Tap, named after the country’s favourite form of transport, brightly coloured pick up trucks. Traditional Haitian pumpkin soup called ‘joumou’ is one option, alongside spicy marinated conch or even fiery ‘fried goat tidbits’. Fish play a big part in the mains, with garoupa in lime sauce alongside poached whole yellowtail snapper. Signs in the colourful interior implore you to ‘bon manje’ while posters advertise forthcoming performances and ‘fet gede’ or voodoo-inspired festivals, making it one of the most atmospheric restaurants in town.
South Beach may draw the monied jet set, but across the city there are neighborhoods bursting with new restaurants featuring knockout cuisine. Beaker and Gray is emblematic of the new wave of venues, in the definitely on-the-up area of Wynwood. Plates from chef Brian Nasajponare are made for sharing and boast creative combinations that take in the best of Latin America and further afield. So a Japanese style mochi dumpling of bacalao salted cod comes with dill and scotch bonnet peppers, or ricotta is accompanied by black mission figs, Thai basil and Citterio Chorizo.
Of course no visit to Miami would be complete without experiencing Cuban cuisine. The classic Cubano sandwich is one option found all over town, with varying degress of authenticity, but for more varied takes on the island’s food, Versaillesis is hard to beat. The over-the-top decoration can be forgiven as its extensive Cuban menu and role as a popular meeting place for the Cuban American community makes it one of the most genuine spots in town. Plantain pie, oxtail stew and ‘pulpeta’ or Cuban meatloaf are some of the plates keeping diners happy.
In common with many cities in the US, cooked food markets have grown hugely in popularity in Miami. The Miami Flea is a laid-back afternoon retreat in the Arts and Entertainment District, with live music, bars, and craft and fashion stalls alongside a range of relaxed dining options from trucks and stalls. Tropical BBQ from Miami Smokers, artisanal pizzas and craft cocktails from the Airstream Apothecary are amongst the many options to ensure no one goes hungry.