Certain foods and drinks act as ways of inducing sociocultural moments: enablers of a coming together that signifies good will and chill. In London, tea is served. In Russia, bread and salt. In Miami, it’s café cubano. And it’s not only a token of polite exchange–the city consumes it at all hours of the day and night.
Available throughout the city at window counters and in countless home kitchens, this drink is uniquely ubiquitous in the Magic City. Of course, coffee is enjoyed all over the world in many styles, but café cubano is different because sugar is added directly into the espresso. This gives the drip an oilier, viscous quality, not to mention a sweetness to match the bitter.
Whether it’s a straight-up colada for sharing, a café con leche or cortadito or cafecito for yourself, this drink is a staple, signature experience of life in Miami. Below, find a list of the best places to go for the fuel that powers the 305.
Las Olas Café
This not-well-publicized but locally renowned hole-in-the-wall is a great Cuban coffee spot in the heart of South Beach. Small but with a long window counter, Las Olas Café is as delicious as it is affordable. Unpretentious and high quality, the menu has a great selection of favorites, especially the spinach empanadas and breakfast to go along with the café cubano.
644 6th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop
Located on the outskirts of Wynwood, Enriqueta’s is a classic breakfast and lunch spot for a wide cross section of Miamians. Swift and always with a smile, the restaurant is a must for their café con leche, to be enjoyed alongside excellent food (do the sandwich de pollo).
186 NE 29th Street, Miami, FL 33137
El Palacio de los Jugos
An open-air market with multiple vendors selling everything from fresh fruit smoothies to media noches and ropa vieja, El Palacio de los Jugos is literally a palace of juices. And yes, the café cubano could technically be considered the juice of the coffee bean.
5721 W Flagler Street, Miami, FL 33144
The most recognizable landmark of Cuban cuisine in Miami, Versailles on Calle Ocho is so popular that it serves as a place of major political activity as much as a go-to spot for a late night cafecito. With an aesthetic that might best be described as “retro opulent,” Versailles is a venue like no other for getting caffeinated.
3555 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
Just across the street from Versailles, La Carreta is another classic spot for café cubano, pastelitos, empanadas, and other Cuban fare. Highly consistent in quality, La Carreta is how Miami does comfort food.
3632 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33135
Header photo courtesy of @versaillescoffee via Instagram