What’s in a name has never been more important than when you’re exploring the neighborhoods of Little Haiti and Little River. Even for locals, the borderlines can become confusing, but the community of Little Haiti pulled together to keep its historic name. Nonetheless, the culturally rich, artistically talented, and resilient members of the Haitian community have created an area uniquely and beautifully theirs. One of the joys people find when visiting Little Haiti are the diverse menus on every corner. From griot to cheesesteaks to seafood, Little Haiti’s range of flavors is a gift to those willing to explore. Here are some of the tastiest eateries in Little Haiti.
10. Rail 71 Café Sandwiches, breakfast, and salads are some of the highlights at the new Rail 71 Café (7255 NE Fourth Ave., #111). Opened by a mother-and-son duo, the eatery offers choices such as the Rail sabich with grilled eggplant ($8.95) and the 71 tuna toast, made with albacore tuna ($10.75). The restaurant supports other local businesses by selling Zak the Baker bread and JoJo Tea. Rail 71 Café is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
9. Chef Creole Chef Wilkinson Sejour was 22 years old when he opened the first Chef Creole, which now has multiple locations, including outposts in North Miami and Miami Gardens. In a competition-dense Haitian neighborhood, the chef and his string of eateries have paved their lane by mixing Haitian and Bahamian influences into a menu that ranges from conch salad to oxtail. The flagship in Little Haiti provides not only delicious meals but also the perfect ambiance for locals who enjoy the outside seating area.
8. Fiorito Brothers Cristian and Maximiliano Alvarez opened this charming Argentine restaurant in 2012. The wooden decor and interior design harks back to their hometown of Córdoba, but neighboring businesses such as Sweat Records, Churchill's Pub, and the local botanica make Fiorito 100 percent Miami. The pulpo a la plancha ($16) and empanadas ($3) are a nice way to start your gastronomic journey and prep you to dive headfirst into entrées such as braised short ribs a la riojana ($19) and pork confit ($17). To finish off, visitors rave about the budin de pan with raisins and nuts or the panqueques with homemade dulce de leche.
7. Philly Grub Owner Mark Scharnitz has gained street cred in the Miami food scene since owning his first eatery, the Corner Muse, and running Hearts of Palm Catering, a company that shares a kitchen with Philly Grub. Philly Grub is the tasty local alternative to Subway or Publix subs. All of its sandwiches cost $7.76, and for less than $10, you can upgrade your meal to include chips and a drink. Don’t leave without ordering an Italian ice or the popular Philly cheesesteak with fresh shaved sirloin and a choice of "whiz" — provolone or American cheese — on Amoroso's bread.
6. Leela’s Restaurant Leela’s sits in the heart of Little Haiti, at 5650 NE Second Ave. It's a short walk from Churchill's, and the foot traffic in the area is heavy, especially on weekends. This family business serves traditional Haitian cuisine, and its authentically decorated interior blends in perfectly with neighboring pastel-colored businesses located by the Caribbean Marketplace. Be sure to visit this mom-and-pop for the tasty poulet (stewed chicken, market price) or tasso (fried goat, market price).
5. Seven Seas Restaurant & Fish Market This Dominican-owned seafood restaurant is a far cry from the local Red Lobster. Nicholas Paulino and his wife Ana, along with his sous-chef brother, run the family eatery. The small joint offers a cozy atmosphere where Ana chats up customers about the couple's hometown in the DR and their life back in New York. The restaurant serves tasty soups and dishes such as salmon fillet ($16) and shrimp rice with sweet plantains ($15). Order some crabmeat or chicken empanadas ($3) to complete the experience.
4. Clive’s Cafe Clive’s, once a beloved staple in Wynwood, is now a local favorite at its new location in Little Haiti. Pearline Murray, known as Mrs. P, is now in her later years but still runs the show at the Jamaican eatery named for her son. The Caribbean restaurant offers house picks such as curried goat ($8.50), oxtail ($15), and jerk chicken ($7). The new location also has a pickup window where patrons line up to place to-go orders or have a quick drink. Check out the hot box at the counter, stocked with Jamaican patties ($2) filled with veggies, chicken, or beef, plus an assortment of hot sauces.
3. Ironside Pizza Ironside is a beautiful, lush hub of boutique-style eateries and retail shops. A letterpress, a clothing store, and a nitrogen ice-cream shop are all neighbors, but the main players in this enclave are Ironside Pizza and its sister, Limited Edition Caffé & Vino Buono. If you’re driving by at night, the white twinkle lights and boldly lit letters spelling "Ironside" tip you off to the industrial structure named after the train that still runs behind it. Vegans especially will delight in its many meat-free options. Ironside also offers vegan cheese for any pie without an additional cost. Pies start at $1
2. B&M Market & Grocery You wouldn’t know B&M (219 NE 79th St.) was a one-stop roti shop and Caribbean market if you drove by, but true locals know this is one of the top places to eat and be instantly transported to the islands. This family-owned gem is one of the few authentic places to get your Guyanese fix. Owners Nafeeza andSheir Ali tag-team to run the business, with Sheir being the friendly face who will always remember your visit and encourage you to try their homemade hot sauce, while Nafeeza whips up the dishes in the back. Nothing about this experience is fancy, but frills are unnecessary when you feel like you’re among family. Pro tip: To order, simply walk back to the kitchen and verbally announce your choice — no formailties here.
1. Naomi's Garden Restaurant & Lounge The Yemini family has owned Naomi’s since the late '80s. It closed for renovations but reopened earlier this year with a fresh look, garden, and stage area. The family has been feeding generations of factory workers in the area, and the restaurant's $10 plates are generous enough to feed up to three people. Try the signature dish: legumes or beef cooked until tender in epis — made of green onions, tomato, garlic, and a secret blend of spices and herbs.
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