Cuban, Latin, and Caribbean
A favorite among tourists and locals alike,
Versailles (3555 SW 8th St., 305/444-0240, 8 a.m.–2 a.m. Mon.–Thurs., 8 a.m.–3 a.m. Fri., 8 a.m.–4:30 a.m. Sat., 9 a.m.–1 a.m. Sun., main courses from $5) is a richly decorated but completely casual Cuban restaurant in the heart of Little Havana. Originally a French restaurant (hence the name), Versailles is the heart and stomach of the Cuban community, and its legendary status should allow it to coast on reputation alone. But the food is excellent and always well prepared, and there is an extensive menu that goes far beyond sandwiches and ropa vieja. Palomillo steak, breakfast tortas, lechon asado, boliche, and other Cuban staples are served in massive portions delivered by well-dressed waiters who are far more formal than the clientele. Even if you’re not hungry, if you’re in Little Havana, you should make a point to stop at Versailles’s walk-up window and grab a cafecito.
While it doesn’t get quite the same amount of attention as Versailles, the Exquisito Cafeteria (1510 SW 8th St., 305/643-0227, 7 a.m.–midnight daily, main courses from $6) is a great and inexpensive choice for solid Cuban food in Little Havana. With a tiny dining room and friendly staff, Exquisito turns out all the basics along with a few specials like spicy shrimp with rice and a Bistec de Palomilla. The place is light on flair and high on quality, with excellent—and dirt-cheap—café cubanos.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition