Now that Miami’s all a-buzz with WaWa’s opening in Westchester, it’s time to take a bigger look at our Western corridor and the gems it’s been hiding. The truth is, to locals of the area, these spots are solid gold and have always reigned supreme. Westchester and West Miami are filled with family dinner go-tos, nostalgic birthday parties, and popular activities for high schoolers. Aside from the usual La Carreta caravan, here are the places–crowd-sourced from those in the know–that you have to visit for comforting meals and flavorful experiences:
Miami has some surprising outposts for mouth-watering eats, and it doesn’t discriminate against gas stations either. Mendez Fuel is a low-key heavy-hitter for fresh sandwiches and deli treats while you’re filling up. The Cuban CAO Bakery & Cafe is a morning ritual for many looking to start their day with the best of treats. If you love your coffee shops with a side of local art and pop culture, White Rose Coffee is the place to go. Make sure to order their specialty drink of the same name for extra “mmmmmm”s. If you can bear to wait a little for some absolutely insane sweet treats, Ma-ka-rohn serves possibly the most creative macarons in Miami and their kitchen stands proudly in the neighborhood (although we suggest ordering online for ultimate lazy indulgence). For those of you looking for something more light and healthy, First Watch serves up lighter, flavorful fare to start the day with.
There is possibly no subject more disputed in Miami than whose croquetas are better. In the land of Westchester, Dos Croquetas reigns pretty far up on the list and we can’t deny that the clues are literally in the name, bro. El Palacio de Los Jugos an absolute Miami institution that honestly, needs no explanation. Another highly sensitive subject is the battle between El Mago de las Fritas and El Rey de las Fritas, but either way, you know you’re going to get something seriously enjoyable and oozing with flavor. For us, comfort food is always the way to go, and few Cuban eateries are as comforting as Rio Cristal with their crazy portion sizes and welcoming, diner vibes.
Although “Weh-Cheh-Terrr” is known for its Cuban and Latin culture, there are actually quite a few Miami favorites from near and far that have been family staples for decades Enter: Kon Chau Chinese Restaurant, topping the list of best dim sum spots in Miami, and a true mom-and-pop treasure. Pop into Lucky Oriental Mart for all your Asian cooking needs. We can’t list beloved Chinese eats without talking about Tropical Chinese, the regular-visit for many dim sum addicted locals.
Back to the Latin roots of the area, El Atlakat is a Salvadoran stronghold in the city, and if you’re ever feeling curious, we highly recommend trying these comforting dishes any day. As a Chilean myself, it’s hard not to spotlight Pamela’s and their endless list of savories, baked goods, and all-around homey ambiance true Chilenos love. Whether they’re enemies or not, Chile and Peru are neighbors and El Chalan is definitely a Peruvian go-to for Miami offering more classic dishes beyond the usual ceviche. Casa Paco Restaurant is a slice of Spain in a place you’d least expect and we’re Olé-ing just thinking about it. Rounding it out with our Latin American locales is Pueblito Viejo, one of the most colorful and bright Colombian spots with food just as delicious as its fun decor.
Bird Road is the central artery that pumps most of the traffic to and from Westchester and West Miami, and along it, many of its greatest hits stand proudly. Arbetter’s Hotdogs is a blast from South Florida’s past, serving up American classics in a retro outpost. Just nearby is Frankie’s Pizza, the quintessential square pie spot that’s as simple as it needs to be so its slices are center stage. Every Graziano’s outpost around Miami is as solid as they come, with their lengthy list of Argentinian favorites and epic happy hour specials. On the border, but still must be noted for its excellence, is Mi Pana Burger, a delectable Venezuelan fast-food spot that actually has the cure for the common hangover. We have to round this list out with Mojo Donuts just because. Dassit.
Credit: Miami New Times
Okay, so Miami’s Western quadrant has more than just food, supppooooosebly. For most of us growing up in Miami, there was rarely an after high school activity that didn’t involve BirdBowl with its outpour of fun memories. Ocho Placas Tattoo Company, right next door to White Rose, is an institution in and of itself for the seriously ink-obsessed. Lincoln’s Beard is another hotspot and favorite of ours, although it too is on the border of the neighborhood, but we can’t omit the brewery from any list it could have a place on.
Cover photo courtesy of Pueblito Viejo.