Eating a Cubano sandwich is a Miami rite of passage. (Photo: Alamy)
You’ve got your sunblock. You’ve got your swimsuit. You’ve even got your “I’m in Miami” shirt to let everyone know you’ve arrived. All you’re missing (if you’re anything like me you plan your whole trip around food) is your itinerary for eating and drinking your way through the Magic City like you’re actually from here. Fret not – we’ve got you covered.
It involves cafecito at Miami’s official cafecito time (true story), trademarked ice cream named after abuela (Miami slang for grandma), and stone crabs straight from the source that discovered them. Check off all three in a day and you can almost call yourself a local, so long as you lose the shirt.
Breakfast at Zak The Baker
Miami’s first artisanal baker revolutionized the dough game with his inimitable sourdough that draws a line out the door every day for lunchtime. Skip it by getting there bright and early at 7 a.m. when the smell of freshly baked bread fills the vibrant streets of Wynwood, pastries are fully stocked and the coffee is piping hot. Whatever you do, try one of his sweet or savory toasts (preferably the chocolate toast with walnut butter). Pro tip: don’t plan for a Saturday when Zak closes in order to observe the rules of an authentic kosher deli.
Before leaving Wynwood: take a stroll around the mural-covered streets and over to Panther Coffee, the city’s first specialty coffee roaster, for the best cup of java in Miami.
Cuban Sandwich at Versailles
If there’s one thing you can’t leave Miami without eating, it’s the quintessential Cubano. Go for the one at Calle Ocho’s Versailles, which is so legendary that it had its 15 minutes of fame in the film Chef. Oh and while you’re at it, be sure to pair your sandwich with some croquetas and a pastelito de guava – it makes for a great dessert before dessert, which is ice cream.
Ice Cream at Azucar
Don’t settle for any old ice cream; try the trademarked cream cheese guava and Maria cookie artisanal ice cream you can only get at Azucar. Unquestionably their most unique flavor, you’ll still be tempted to try a few of their other signature Miami flavors. Think café con leche, Key Lime pie, coconut flan, cuatro leches, guava and sweet plantain.
Walk it off: Calle Ocho and Little Havana have some seriously rich history, so take advantage of it and get lost in Domino Park, then have a pick-me-up before happy hour.
Cuban coffee is an integral part of every Miamian’s day. So much so, that a local agency campaigned to make 3:05 p.m. (305 is Miami’s area code) cafecito time every day. Talk about official – cafecito time was presented with a formal proclamation by the city. So hit up a ventanita (a walk-up window) – any ventanita of the many Cuban restaurants on Calle Ocho – and have un cafecito with a local stranger. Pro tip: don’t ask for cream; do ask for sugar!
Happy Hour at Ball & Chain
This resurrected iconic nightclub from the 1920s once served as a stage for Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Chet Baker. Today you’ll only find them on posters lining the wall, but Ball & Chain is still the place to enjoy live music, a pastelito-infused daiquiri and a Calle Ocho old fashioned with tobacco bitters and leaves during happy hour.
Dinner at Eating House
Giorgio Rapicavoli was Miami’s first Chopped winner, one of Forbes 30 Under 30, and his famed Cap’n Crunch pancakes have been featured on the Food Network more times than one can count. But don’t let that fool you – this Miami boy is 305 till he dies, and for that, locals can’t get enough of his ever-changing menu. It’s hands down the best pasta carbonara (hint: there’s truffle) of your life.
Nightcap at Broken Shaker
Finish things off with a proper cocktail from No. 14 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars. Locals are well aware that the libations change monthly in tandem with whatever new herbs, spices and produce the Shaker garden is growing. In fact, they come precisely for that reason. You can also be a true local and simply tell one of the city’s top barkeeps your spirit of choice so they can surprise you with a unique cocktail.
Where To Stay
With all that eating and drinking you’ll need a comfortable bed and place to rest. The JW Marriott Marquis Miami in downtown puts you smack in the middle of all the Miami action. If you’re looking to get the beach into your plans, the Marriott Stanton South Beach is right on the sands of Ocean Drive.