Layovers can be a bit of a pain, but if yours happens to be in Miami, you’re in luck because there’s plenty to see and do in the surrounding areas. While there are dining options a-plenty well within Miami International Airport itself (including miniature versions of Miami’s two most popular Cuban eateries, Versailles and La Carreta), you’ll want to venture out if only for a few short hours to get a better taste of what the Magic City has to offer. Here, we’re giving you the insider’s guide to where to indulge in Miami’s finest food and drink without the risk of missing your flight (although really, would it be so bad to have to spend another day here?)
94th Aero Squadron
This aviation-themed restaurant located adjacent to MIA is the perfect spot for airplane aficionados to spend their layover. A popular spot for everything from baby showers to weddings to their weekly lunch buffet, this local’s favorite offers a wide range of entrees including mahi-mahi scampi, filet mignon, porcini mushroom ravioli, and lobster tail. There’s an excellent bar where you can fill up prior to flight, and if your layover happens to be on a Sunday, there’s no finer choice than their all-you-can-eat Champagne Brunch.
Palacio de los Jugos
Everyone, and I mean everyone in Miami knows about Palacio de los Jugos. But if you’re just visiting, there’s a good chance you’ll miss it, since it’s definitely a local thing. There are several locations, but fortunately there’s one just a short Uber ride away from MIA where you can experience the joys of fresh squeezed juice and Cuban cuisine for relatively cheap. Open since 1977, the 305-based franchise is sure to please your palate with everything from congri and media noche sandwiches to agua de coco (literally a coconut with a straw coming out of it–doesn’t get any fresher than this). PS. This is the perfect place to practice your Spanish.
Latin Yuka Deli
Everyone knows that Cuban food rules Miami, but did you also know about the burgeoning Dominican population? If you’re ready to try something authentic that’s definitely not on any run-of-the-mill guide, this is definitely the spot. This cafeteria-style eatery serves up some of the most delicious Dominican fare in the city, including sancocho (a hearty, meaty stew), grilled chicken, Dominican-style rice and beans, and the ever-delicious mofongo (mashed plantains that taste like magic).
If you want the authentic sipping-Cafe-Cubano-at-the-outdoor-counter experience with the added benefit of watching airplanes flying overhead, Rincon Criollo is the place you want to be. It’s a heartbeat away from MIA so there’s no chance you’ll be late for your next flight, and a meal will cost you under $10, meaning you can spend extra cash on a few beers to level you out after the cafecito kicks in. You can’t ask for better ambiance, whether you sit outside or in, and there’s even a live DJ on Thursday nights for a little extra 305-style partying. Side note: Pitbull has been spotted here before, if that means anything to you.
It may be true that the best Cuban food in the States is served in Miami, but that can also be said for the best Nicaraguan fare, and if you’re open to trying it, you definitely won’t be sorry. This well-known spot is known for it’s mouth-watering, Nicaraguan home-style cuisine. Just a few minutes away from the airport, you’ll find yourself dining on gallo pinto (Nicaraguan-style rice and beans), carne asada (grilled skirt steak the likes you’ve never known), fried cheese, and sweet plantains. Wash it down with some fresh juice like Chia (which, yes, includes the growingly popular chia seeds plus tamarind juice), and end it all with a decadent dessert like a quatro leches (which translates to “four milks” due to it being made with regular milk, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and coconut milk).