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Stone Crab, Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant, Miami Beach Photo by Hoberman Collection/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Miami’s 13 Most Iconic Restaurant Dishes

The Magic City’s signature dishes that are worth seeking out

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Miami’s most iconic dishes are part of the memory of many people. Multiculturalism is woven into many aspects of the Magic City’s life, and culinary destinations reflect this in their menu offerings.

Some of these eclectic food items have evolved to become the most beloved among the locals and helped create the identity of Miami’s unique scene. From simple snacks to dishes that capture the hearts, souls, and stomachs across the city, they can be found in almost every neighborhood, at corner snack restaurants, or in high-end establishments. This is the bucket list of Miami’s 13 most essential dishes to enjoy now and again.

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Arepas at Doggi's Arepa Bar

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Several Latin American countries have made the arepas an integral part of their cuisine. Made of pre-cooked corn flour (masarepa) and water, these hearty pancakes are grilled and then stuffed with everything from avocado to meat to cheese, making for a light meal or hand-held dish to eat on the go. Miamians are serious about their arepa fix, and Doggi’s serves some of the best iterations in town, including a Mexican version filled with churrasco, avocado, and pico de gallo. 

Jerk Chicken at Clive's Cafe

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Caribbean flavor profiles are one of the foundations of Miami’s culinary landscape, and for more than four decades, locals have been visiting Clive’s for a proper Jamaican experience. The no-frills restaurant is known for its jerk chicken featuring fragrant, fiery hot, and smoky flavors all at once. Owner Pearline “Miss Pearl” Murray offers the soulful dish during lunch and dinner, accompanied by two sides: potato salad and plantains or a hearty portion of rice and peas. 

Key Lime Pie at Icebox Cafe

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Award winners for its 9-inch-deep Key Lime Pie, Icebox Cafe’s slice of tropical heaven boasts all the right flavors and textures: sweet, tart, crunchy, and creamy. The custard is infused with juice from limes straight down the Florida coast and topped with a whipped cream dollop.

Late-Night Sandwich at La Sandwicherie Miami Beach

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La Sandwicherie has been the place to go for a late-night meal in South Beach since the height of Miami Beach’s ‘90s nightclub era. The large sandwiches are created on a baguette filled with pate, brie cheese, lettuce, and tomato, topped by a wildly popular French vinaigrette (also sold onsite by the bottle) and served until 5 a.m. every day.

Fried Pork Chunks (Masas de Puerco Frito) at Puerto Sagua Restaurant

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There's a ritual to making excellent masas de puerco frito: first, the pork chunks of meat are cut into cubes, marinated in mojo, then boiled and fried in their fat, allowing these little nuggets to get nice and crispy on the outside while staying juicy on the inside. At Puerto Sagua, the chunks are often served alongside yuca and rice but may also be found in a sandwich.

Pan Con La Minuta (Fried Fish Sandwich) at La Camaronera Seafood Joint and Fish Market

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The pan con minuta is said to be the favorite fish sandwich of many, and rightfully so. A tailed snapper filet is dredged in flour and cracker crumbs and then fried, making for a soft Cuban sandwich that holds in the warm crunch of the fish and delicately supports the secret sauce and chopped onions in your hands.

Pastelitos at Karla Cuban Bakery (Multiple locations)

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Pastelitos are flaky turnover-style pastries made from a thin dough crimped at the edges and fried, a Cuban pastry that, in Miami, is eaten for breakfast, lunch, and even as dessert. Years of family baking tradition passed on to generations is why Karla Bakery maintains its popularity. Take a number and gaze at the selections available filled with tropical fruits and cream cheese, but make sure to pick the fan favorite pastelito de carne packed with a hearty serving of its marinated ground beef, followed by a sweet guava iteration.

Stone Crabs at Joe's Stone Crab

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A seasonal meal of stone crabs at Joe’s is an experience every Miamian should have at least once. The restaurant that prides itself in discovering the sought-after crustacean some 100+ years ago still serves them every season in its iconic South Beach location. The claws are chilled, cracked, and served with its equally famous mustard sauce, as it should be. A takeout option is offered next door at Joe’s Takeaway.

Cuban Sandwich at Versailles Cuban Bakery

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It’s hard to put a label on Miami’s most iconic dish, but if there had to be one, the Cuban Sandwich might just fit the bill. A true collaboration between Cuban migrant workers and Floridians in the late 1800s and the early 20th century, this spin on the old ham and cheese is most often found simply with fresh Cuban bread, yellow mustard, roasted pork, baked ham, Swiss cheese, and sliced dill pickles.

Frita at El Mago De Las Fritas

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There are several must-eat burgers in Miami, but there is something about the tried-and-true pork and beef mixture that makes up the Cuban frita. The magic is simple: a single or double patty, a soft bun, toppings of handmade potato sticks, fried eggs, croquetas, and cheese. El Mago de Las Fritas on Calle Ocho lives up to its “wizard of the fritas” name with the “Big Magic,” an over-the-top iteration that uses fried tostones as the middle bun.

Empanadas at Graziano's Market

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Miami has no shortage of tasty empanadas, but the version at Graziano’s reigns supreme. The savory turnovers here are offered Argentine-style and loaded with everything from cheese and tomatoes to corn or chorizo, then baked just right until golden. 

Croquetas at Islas Canarias Restaurant

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Miamians always have room in their stomachs for a croqueta or two. The bite-sized fried roll is a mouthful of flavors and textures, with its crispy exterior of breadcrumbs giving way to a creamy, delicately spiced core of meat, fish, or vegetables. Islas Canarias has been serving the city an old-school Cuban iteration of the snack for over four decades, and its heart-shaped croqueta box is one of the most coveted local Valentine’s Day gifts in town. 

Rum Cake at the Original Lucilas Cake

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Moist, dense, and delicious rum cakes can be served as often as your morning cup of tea or held as dear as a holiday treat. Recipes range from fruit and nuts to chocolate and ginger, but two things remain the same: they’re all greased in a Bundt cake tin and contain plenty of rum.

Arepas at Doggi's Arepa Bar

Several Latin American countries have made the arepas an integral part of their cuisine. Made of pre-cooked corn flour (masarepa) and water, these hearty pancakes are grilled and then stuffed with everything from avocado to meat to cheese, making for a light meal or hand-held dish to eat on the go. Miamians are serious about their arepa fix, and Doggi’s serves some of the best iterations in town, including a Mexican version filled with churrasco, avocado, and pico de gallo. 

Jerk Chicken at Clive's Cafe

Caribbean flavor profiles are one of the foundations of Miami’s culinary landscape, and for more than four decades, locals have been visiting Clive’s for a proper Jamaican experience. The no-frills restaurant is known for its jerk chicken featuring fragrant, fiery hot, and smoky flavors all at once. Owner Pearline “Miss Pearl” Murray offers the soulful dish during lunch and dinner, accompanied by two sides: potato salad and plantains or a hearty portion of rice and peas. 

Key Lime Pie at Icebox Cafe

Award winners for its 9-inch-deep Key Lime Pie, Icebox Cafe’s slice of tropical heaven boasts all the right flavors and textures: sweet, tart, crunchy, and creamy. The custard is infused with juice from limes straight down the Florida coast and topped with a whipped cream dollop.

Late-Night Sandwich at La Sandwicherie Miami Beach

La Sandwicherie has been the place to go for a late-night meal in South Beach since the height of Miami Beach’s ‘90s nightclub era. The large sandwiches are created on a baguette filled with pate, brie cheese, lettuce, and tomato, topped by a wildly popular French vinaigrette (also sold onsite by the bottle) and served until 5 a.m. every day.

Fried Pork Chunks (Masas de Puerco Frito) at Puerto Sagua Restaurant

There's a ritual to making excellent masas de puerco frito: first, the pork chunks of meat are cut into cubes, marinated in mojo, then boiled and fried in their fat, allowing these little nuggets to get nice and crispy on the outside while staying juicy on the inside. At Puerto Sagua, the chunks are often served alongside yuca and rice but may also be found in a sandwich.

Pan Con La Minuta (Fried Fish Sandwich) at La Camaronera Seafood Joint and Fish Market

The pan con minuta is said to be the favorite fish sandwich of many, and rightfully so. A tailed snapper filet is dredged in flour and cracker crumbs and then fried, making for a soft Cuban sandwich that holds in the warm crunch of the fish and delicately supports the secret sauce and chopped onions in your hands.

Pastelitos at Karla Cuban Bakery (Multiple locations)

Pastelitos are flaky turnover-style pastries made from a thin dough crimped at the edges and fried, a Cuban pastry that, in Miami, is eaten for breakfast, lunch, and even as dessert. Years of family baking tradition passed on to generations is why Karla Bakery maintains its popularity. Take a number and gaze at the selections available filled with tropical fruits and cream cheese, but make sure to pick the fan favorite pastelito de carne packed with a hearty serving of its marinated ground beef, followed by a sweet guava iteration.

Stone Crabs at Joe's Stone Crab

A seasonal meal of stone crabs at Joe’s is an experience every Miamian should have at least once. The restaurant that prides itself in discovering the sought-after crustacean some 100+ years ago still serves them every season in its iconic South Beach location. The claws are chilled, cracked, and served with its equally famous mustard sauce, as it should be. A takeout option is offered next door at Joe’s Takeaway.

Cuban Sandwich at Versailles Cuban Bakery

It’s hard to put a label on Miami’s most iconic dish, but if there had to be one, the Cuban Sandwich might just fit the bill. A true collaboration between Cuban migrant workers and Floridians in the late 1800s and the early 20th century, this spin on the old ham and cheese is most often found simply with fresh Cuban bread, yellow mustard, roasted pork, baked ham, Swiss cheese, and sliced dill pickles.

Frita at El Mago De Las Fritas

There are several must-eat burgers in Miami, but there is something about the tried-and-true pork and beef mixture that makes up the Cuban frita. The magic is simple: a single or double patty, a soft bun, toppings of handmade potato sticks, fried eggs, croquetas, and cheese. El Mago de Las Fritas on Calle Ocho lives up to its “wizard of the fritas” name with the “Big Magic,” an over-the-top iteration that uses fried tostones as the middle bun.

Empanadas at Graziano's Market

Miami has no shortage of tasty empanadas, but the version at Graziano’s reigns supreme. The savory turnovers here are offered Argentine-style and loaded with everything from cheese and tomatoes to corn or chorizo, then baked just right until golden. 

Croquetas at Islas Canarias Restaurant

Miamians always have room in their stomachs for a croqueta or two. The bite-sized fried roll is a mouthful of flavors and textures, with its crispy exterior of breadcrumbs giving way to a creamy, delicately spiced core of meat, fish, or vegetables. Islas Canarias has been serving the city an old-school Cuban iteration of the snack for over four decades, and its heart-shaped croqueta box is one of the most coveted local Valentine’s Day gifts in town. 

Rum Cake at the Original Lucilas Cake

Moist, dense, and delicious rum cakes can be served as often as your morning cup of tea or held as dear as a holiday treat. Recipes range from fruit and nuts to chocolate and ginger, but two things remain the same: they’re all greased in a Bundt cake tin and contain plenty of rum.

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