Miami’s food scene ranges drastically from the super fancy (try getting a table at Sexy Fish at the last minute) and casual (who doesn’t know, and LOVE, La Sandwicherie?). There is, however, an undeniable fusion of Latinesque favorites on most menus.

One of the most popular indulgences is the otherworldly empanada.

But what’s the deal? There are so many styles and fillings of empanadas, how does one decipher it all? To crack the code, we’ve put together a list of the finest empanadas, where they come from and their distinguishing factors.

You’ll be an expert in no time.

  • Cuban: Cuban empanadas have a variety of fillings. Shredded chicken, spinach and cheese, guava and cheese and, of course, the traditional “carne” or beef empanada. The beef comes ground, cooked with bell pepper, onion, garlic and tomato. Expect a sweet undertone of cumin, and a green olive here and there. The outer shell is made of flour or wheat and deep fried to perfection.
    Where to find them: Little Havana
  • Venezuelan: Also deep fried but this time with a white corn shell. Fillings are somewhat similar, though one of the more popular empanadas that you can find in the country itself is generally not available in the US. Empanadas de cazon are stuffed with the meat of a small shark that is found off the coast of Venezuela.
    Where to find them: Doral
  • Colombian: Similar to Venezuelan empanadas but with a yellow corn shell. The fillings most coveted by Colombians tend to have shredded beef or pork and potatoes. The potatoes are cooked in a special tomato sauce that mixes onions, garlic, spices and cilantro.
    Where to find them: Downtown/Brickell
  • Nicaraguan: Usually cheesy and on the sweeter side, a Nicaraguan empanada has an outer shell commonly made of sweet plantains, fried, and served hot. Other stuffings include, as you may have guessed, meat or chicken.
    Where to find them: East Little Havana
  • Argentinian: Empanadas from Argentina, in their most classic style, have a bolder shell of wheat or flour and are baked. The most traditional empanada from Argentina will be filled with beef and slices of hard boiled egg.
    Where to find them: Key Biscayne/North Beach
  • Mexican: While there are several savory Mexican empanadas, the one that steals the show is of course the sweet one. Empanadas from Mexico are a variety of “pan dulce”, a collection of nearly 2,000 sweet pastries that are common for breakfast. Empanadas have a thin, flour shell and can be filled with marmalades, notably of pineapple.
    Where to find them: Homestead/West Little Havana

And there you have it! Now it’s your turn to enjoy an empanada scavenger hunt around all the neighborhoods of Miami!

Everybody knows the Clevelander. Likely, everyone living in Miami for at least 5 – 10 years has been to the Clevelander. More than likely, not one local can be found there today.

That’s all about to change. Matt Kuscher, owner of Miami-famous Lokal restaurant and Kush Hospitality Group is taking over operations and is determined to bring the locals back to Ocean Drive. How? With a recognizably-Kush menu of local ingredients, fresh produce and homemade sauces served around the iconic pool.

In addition, the rarely-used Games on Sports restaurant will be converted into Kush Clevelander with a food and cocktail menu to match a Miami Beach locals vibe. While the pool will remain the place to party, Kush Clevelander’s sports bar will give locals a place to watch the big game without distraction.

The new look is expected to be unveiled at the end of August. Just in time for the NFL Kickoff on September 8th and the Miami Dolphins’ first regular season matchup against the NE Patriots at 1:00pm on Sunday, September 11.

With what feels like a revolving door of restaurants opening and closing every day, it’s nice to give love to those that stick around. Each restaurant listed here has been a fixture in Miami for at least 20 years, with no plans to retire. These spots are great if you’re looking for a solid dinner out with reliable service and consistent food. Perfect to bring visitors who are new to the Magic City, these locations will give you an authentic feel of Miami’s local scene.

  1. Havana Harry’s Cuban-Latin-American Fusion. Inviting, sophisticated and an absolute staple. Opened 1995. Coral Gables. Known for: Awesome mojitos.
  2. La Sandwicherie French Casual. Laid-back, with friendly staff and arguably the best sandwiches in Miami. Several locations, but the original is on Miami Beach. Opened 1988. Known for: It’s magic dressing.
  3. Old Lisbon: Portuguese. Fine Dining and sophisticated. Coral Way, South Miami. Opened 1991. Known for: Codfish.
  4. Garcia’s Seafood Riverside. Upscale casual with Miami river views. Opened as a Fish Market in 1966. Known for: Fresh caught local seafood. 
  5. Joe’s Stone Crab American. Sophisticated, classic & family-owned. Joe’s is the oldest restaurant in Miami Beach. Opened 1913. Known for: Stone Crabs

You don’t always have to wait in TSA Security lines to get a feel for international travel. Here are five dining options that will take you out of Miami, if only for a few hours. All vetted by the author and self-proclaimed foodie!

1. Ethiopian – Awash
Consistently some of the best food I have had in Miami. Awash is a nondescript Ethiopian restaurant, run by Ethiopians, located in an unassuming strip mall in Miami Gardens. The food is always fresh, delicious and filling. The service is always slow, in the most charming way possible. The wine list is minimal, just as you’d expect it to be. Ethiopian music videos play on repeat and the crowd is always eclectic. Highly affordable, satiating and most of all, FUN.

2. Mexican – Mi Rinconcito Mexicano
For a city severely lacking, Mi Rinconcito Mexicano is Miami’s answer to authentic-as-it-gets Mexican food. A statement further proven by the simple fact that the restaurant is ALWAYS full and a good 75% of its patrons (please do not fact-check me on this percentage) are, indeed, Mexican. The menu is extensive and has a surprisingly long list of vegetarian options. There is no liquor license, so don’t be fooled by the Margarita that is seemingly made from cheap wine. When you’ve had your taco fix, head to the bakery in the back for a pan dulce or peruse the in-house jewelry market while you digest.

3. Indonesian – Bali Cafe
This place is a gem. The menu is about 5 pages long, but you could honestly just point to anything on it and be happy with the outcome. It’s a small place, with just a few tables scattered amongst a random assortment of Indonesian wall decorations. Locals know the beauty of this place and dine here often. The food is delicious, fresh and colorful, the portions are huge, and the prices are downright cheap. There is wine, there is beer, and when there is no wine (because sometimes, well, there just isn’t), you get the beer.

4. Middle Eastern – Middle East Best Food (no website)
Warning – This is NOT a restaurant. This is a deli, a rather hodge podge one, located on Coral Way. The owner is a small, proud Palestinian who claims (and perhaps rightfully so) that he is one of the best chefs in Miami. According to Ali, his hummus is THE best in the USA and his baba ghanouj ain’t bad either. He has vats of olives of all kinds and hot food made to order. The highlight, though, is his wondrous display of homemade sweets. He has not one, not two, but FIVE varieties of baklava, each of which are mouthwatering and flaky. This is the perfect spot to stock up on apps for your next book club.

5. Italian – Cafe Abbracci
Miami is chock-full of Italian restaurants, but authenticity can still be hard to find. Look no further than Coral Gables. Cafe Abbracci is a step back in time, to those super-Italian restaurants with weird neon lights, deep red decor and hardly any windows. Part seduction, part mafia. (Anyone from NJ knows exactly what I’m talking about.) This interior design can mean only one thing: awesome food and even better service. And with true, born-in-Italy owners, you know you are in good hands. The pasta with clams is some of the best I’ve tasted and the staff, 16 of whom have been with the restaurant since it opened in 1989, are friendly and welcoming.

With so many small and local businesses feeling the squeeze of this pandemic, more and more Miamians are looking for ways to support them. If you’re aching to purchase locally made goods but not quite ready to give up the ease of immediate delivery, you’re in luck. Vecinos Market is a digital marketplace for Miami’s best products that not only makes it easy to shop local, but to receive too! Choose your preferred delivery day upon checkout and relax until your orders arrive at your door. Read more

The mouthwatering smell of smoke mixed with charcoal lingering in the humid air could only signify one thing — a barbecue. Miami locals know grilling is an international affair. For the rest of the USA, barbecues serve as a representation of American culture, but here in Miami, they also represent Brazilian, Argentine, Haitian, Uruguayan, Cuban, Korean, Jamaican… Well, you get the picture. Read more

Within the constraints of a suffering economy and catastrophic loss of jobs, a silver lining can be seen for some in the form of new local business. Throughout the country, citizens have been forced to get creative to make ends meet. That’s where Beach Baby Green, a Raw Salad Subscription Service, comes in! One of the latest Meal Subscription Plans to emerge from South Florida, Beach Baby Green is the only local salad-based meal delivery service! Read more

Who doesn’t love a good taco place. If you like a good vibe with truly amazing food, then 222 Taco is the place for you. 222 Taco is located in the North Bay Village neighborhood right on the 79thstreet Causeway.  When you step inside you walk towards the left to order your food at the registers, you get a buzzer and then go find a table.  While you wait for the deliciousness to be prepared, they feed your ears with some of the best music I’ve heard in a restaurant in a while.  We went the other day with some friends and we ordered quite a few dishes off the menu. And I have to tell you that their fish tacos were the best I’ve ever had in my life. We had some great margarita and the food was so good that we decided what better place to go to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. We went last night, and it didn’t disappoint. The Djs were playing some great music,  the atmosphere was so much fun, and again food and drinks were on point. Read more

To help local restaurants, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) has extended Miami Spice through October. The dining program, which traditionally runs August 1 through September 30, is designed to give a financial boost to local eateries during Miami’s slowest months for tourism.

Spice public relations rep Larry Carrino says all restaurants currently participating in Miami Spice are invited to participate in October, but no new restaurants will join. About 90 percent or more of those restaurants are expected to extend the program through Halloween. The GMCVB is still reaching out to restaurants, but fewer than five have declined to continue through next month. The program and price points — $23 for lunch or brunch and $39 for dinner — will not change.

Many Miami establishments are donating funds and supplies to relief efforts — even as they themselves are without power. Here’s a list of places where your dollars and donations can help.

7-Eleven. Various locations. Customers nationwide can join 7-Eleven in its hurricane-relief efforts by adding $1 to in-store purchases or donating online at All money will be donated to the Red Cross.

Islamorada Beer Company. 2229 Overseas Hwy., Islamorada; 305-440-2162; The brewery has set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for supplies. Cofounder Jose Herrera says he plans to make as many trips with supplies as he can. So far, the campaign has raised nearly $6,000 of its $10,000 goal. He’s also looking for a few Miami breweries to step up and volunteer to become drop locations for people to leave donated supplies. If anyone is interested in helping, email him at Read more