Posted May 2, 2013
By ALEJANDRA GUTIERREZ
With the huge influence of Cuban culture in South Florida, it is only fair to say that Cuban cuisine is one of the most popular in Miami. If there is one restaurant that defines Cuban food, you can count on Versailles.
Located on Miami’s famous street, Calle Ocho, Versailles is a restaurant that has seen everyone from singers to senators and presidents, during the past 40 years since it opened.
The restaurant itself is separated into three different zones. The first is a large salon that tries to imitate the French palace decoration with huge chandeliers and mirrored walls. Dozens of tables and chairs crammed the room, while the waiters move from one place to the next, on the beat of some bongos, in the always-crowded place.
The best way to start your meal is with a fried combination for two, Versailles Combo ($7.65), which is really enough for about 10 people. It consists of ham and beef empanadas, yucca fries served with cilantro sauce, and some of the best ham and beef croquetas that I’ve ever had. I then ordered tostones ($3.95), which are plantain potatoes with mojo sauce made of garlic.
To drink, although sodas are always a good option, I had a fruit juice; there are several types, but the most typical is the guava ($2.25), a juice known for its sweetness and tropical taste.
I had not even begun my entrée and I was already wondering how I was going to finish my plate. Chicken with yellow rice and a scoop of mayonnaise ($7.50), was a good choice, but nothing like The Classic ($12.95), Cuban-style pork marinated with moro rice, which is the way to prepare the Cuban rice with black beans, along with sweet plantains, ham Croquette, Cuban tamale, and Cassava with Cuban Mojo.
When I tasted this sizzling plate, I said to myself: “welcome to Cuba!” Perhaps the only problem with the food is that the dishes are somewhat oily; however, the Caribbean-style food was simply delicious.
The second zone of this place is the Versailles Bakery. There are is such a large variety of pastry that standing there for about 15 minutes wondering what to order, was no exaggeration. At very affordable prices, I tried the tasty, “guava” pastelito ($2.50), a square pastry, freshly baked and stuffed with guava cream. The coconut pastry is also recommended and I was told by a waiter that if you do not arrive early, it is almost always sold-out. It goes without saying that the pastelitos are well loaded with sugar but still very rich in taste.
The third and final zone is the window, or la ventanita. If you are in a hurry, it is best way to get what you want and go. It is not unusual to see how Cubans stand by the window talking about Cuba and other matters, while sipping the famous cortadito ($1.65), the fragrant and sweet Cuban coffee, served in glasses but then split into small cups, like a shot glass, to share among friends.
By the end of the night, I was rolling out of the restaurant. If you want to enjoy all the delicious food Versailles has for you, I recommend that you go with an empty stomach; because with plenty of food rations, there is no doubt that Versailles is the best place to remember Cuba,
- Versailles Restaurant
- 3555 SW 8th St., Miami, Fla. 33135
- Mondays-Thursdays: 8 a.m. – 1 a.m.
- Fridays: 8 a.m – 2:30 a.m.
- Saturdays: 8 a.m. – 3:30 a.m.
- Sundays: 9 a.m. – 1 a.m.
- Prices: $$