Like any staffer who works near downtown, Sant La’s staff goes into a frenzy trying to decide a restaurant to order lunch.
“Which restaurant has the best pwason gro sèl? Or makes the most tender ke bèf? Or, cooks the most flavorful diri kole?”
It’s a debate I imagine happens more often than others realize considering Miami-Dade County is home to over 125,000 Haitians. Whom, might I deduce love to eat a traditional Haitian dish for lunch--and, as I’ll further infer--loves a plate of piping hot, tender griyo. The quintessential gateway meat, amongst Haitians it’s an urban legend that non-Haitians typically develop a taste for Haitian cooking after eating a dish of griyo. And can you blame them? When cooked properly, it’s succulent and savory and goes well with a plate of diri kole.
Just my luck, the majority of Haitian restaurants are located in Little Haiti and farther east. So, if you’re Haitian—or have a palette for Haitian food—read the list below for some of our favorite Haitian restaurants located in or near Little Haiti. (In no way shape or form does our list quantify as a ‘best list.’ Instead, consider it as a guide.)
Here’s a few tips on the proper etiquette of eating at any Haitian eatery located in Miami--be it fine dining, take out, or bakery. Trust me: Whether you’re a pro or a newbie, following these steps will help your experience be a breeze.
First, bring cash. The jury is still out on as to why some Haitian restaurants choose not to jump on other forms of payment aside from greenbacks, but it’s a reality that you must accustom yourself to. Second, avoid time drainers by ordering your food 20 minutes prior to pick up. Also, calling beforehand gives you an accurate clue as to which dishes are available on the menu. I mean really, how frustrating is it to run to your favorite bakery for a dozen pate mori only to find they ran out? And in the spirit of open-mindedness be prepared to expose your taste buds to a collection of alternative drinks as the majority of Haitian restaurants serve Hatuey Malta, Choucoune, Jupina, Champagne Cola, Materva, and Watermelon sodas along with homemade fruit juices like lemonade, grapefruit, and passion fruit.
It’s safe to argue that apart from rushing to the bank, only the prospect of eating an authentic Haitian meal would lure someone to drive on Biscayne Boulevard (i.e., gridlock) during the hours of 12 pm to 3 pm.
The hottest Haitian restaurants in (or near) Little Haiti (in alphabetical order and completely free of ratings):
• Bakery Café – Home to a large sampling of fruit milkshakes and fruit juices, I advise any health fanatic to take a trip here. Juices are made from fresh fruits like papaya, banana, and mango and when asked milk is added to make a creamy milkshake. Bakery Cafe also serves meals like griyo, ke bèf, fried chicken, and other meats with diri blan or diri kole. If you need a quick meal, try their bouyon, bread, or pate mouri. For more information: Located at 8250 NE 2nd Avenue. Call 305-751-2331 for hours.
• Cayard Bakery – Like any authentic Haitian bakery it’s stocked with fresh Haitian bread served right out of the oven. Other favorites include pate mori, pate aranso, and pate bèf that’s made with a delicate pastry dough, and baked goods like gato and cookies. If you’re thirsty, I highly recommend their akasan, a creamy drink that’s made of cornmeal and evaporated milk flavored with kanèl. This location’s most popular meal is fried chicken served with coleslaw and pikliz. For more information: Located at 12801 W Dixie Highway. Call 305-893-1800 for hours.