'A Miami Institution on Calle Ocho: Cafe Versailles' by Chef Shane Zimmerman
Everyone I asked in Miami for the best Cuban food responded with Café Versailles, period. All the blogs and restaurant reviews agree, “you must do Café Versailles”. So on a recent work trip to Miami, I had to check out the famous Café Versailles. This Miami institution has been around over 40 years, serving locals and tourists traditional Floridian-Cuban specialties. Owner Felipe Valls opened the first location in Little Havana in 1971. The original location is on the famous Calle Ocho in Little Havana, and besides the 370 seat full service restaurant, they also have a walk-up counter and bakery. We dined on a Monday night and were actually very surprised to see the restaurant in full swing. There were still people coming in at 10:00 PM, an astonishment for us. Doing our due diligence as chefs, we ordered a large array of dishes including Cuban black bean soup, boiled yucca with Cuban mojo, sweet plantains, Cuban Pork, Moro Rice and boiled yucca, the famous Cuban sandwich, layered with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese and mustard, Valenicana-style Paella, and the Criolla platter, which included, more boiled yucca, yellow rice, the famous Cuban fried pork, Ropa Vieja (or shredded beef) in Cuban Mojo, and a Cuban style Tamale. Needless to say, I rolled myself out the restaurant. My favorites were the rice (both regular and the black bean infused Moro Rice) and Cuban black beans, hands down. Two things so essential to the Cuban soul, and so simple, but done exceptionally well. Next time you’re in Miami, this restaurant should definitely be your first stop, whether on Calle Ocho or, conveniently enough, in the airport, Café Versailles is a must!
3555 Southwest 8th Street
Miami, FL 33135
Reservations: Accepted; BYOB;Price: $$ ($5-$25)
March 28, 2012