Snackdown: Little Havana vs. Coral Gables

Categories: Snackdown
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Over the next few weeks, Short Order will pair eight Miami-Dade neighborhoods in a "Snackdown". This is the third entry. Today pits Little Havana against Coral Gables. Which one is the better neighborhood for dining?

Read our arguments and VOTE! Tweet it. Facebook it. Google+ it. Comment.

For north of the county line, visit our sister blog, Clean Plate Charlie, and vote for your favorites during its Food Town Throwdown.


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El Rey de Las Fritas via Facebook
Little Havana

One of the best things about Little Havana is that you won't find many tourists outside Domino Park. Rough around the edges, sure, but restauranteurs of the area know exactly how to keep us coming back.

It offers tons of regional cuisine variety (that's right, I said it, you skeptics). One may immediately think our first argument would include a place offering Latin food - but no. Hy Vong, the Thai Vietnamese joint smack in the middle of Latino City, has a loyal following that's close to cult status. Never mind about the cult though - it's the dining we're interested in here. Bitch about waiting in line if you dare but rest assured that pho and ginger tongue you're about to order will settle all your bitchy problems from here on out.

A Miami favorite, Catharis, calls Little Havana home, too. Be it the homemade croquetas or the churassco a la parilla with caramelized onions... hot damn... our mouth is watering right now. It's a lunch and dinner spot that can't beat your Latin (and a splash of Italian) cravings.

Could there really be a king of the frita out there? No need to ponder further because one exists and he cooks at El Rey de Las Fritas everyday of the week. The sweet crunchy decadence of a Cuban "burger" washed down with a batido de mamey... ay ay ayy... somebody get us some oxygen stat!

And don't forget the classics, El Pub, Versailles, and La Carreta. You want Cuban food? Oye, you want Miami. Deliciousness (and parking!) on the cheap... it doesn't get better than home sweet Little Havana.

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Coral Gables

It's time to pull out the big guns. We mentioned it first in our Mid Beach vs. Downtown snackdown, but we're gonna bring it back, and bring it back with vengeance.

Hey, Little Havana, do you have a Chopped Champion running around nearby? No need to respond, we all know the answer. 'Tis right folks, Coral Gables is home (albeit temporary) to its most recent addition, Eating House. The bangin' pop-up has pleased just about every lost soul that's strolled in. It's said their dishes are if not comparable, far better than sex. One of our very own from the Short Order team even caught a woman romancing her bone marrow there one night. Excuse us, we think we need a personal break.

Sex aside, there's much more to The Gables than meets the eye. An all-time favorite among many our residents, Randazzo's offers solid, homey Italian food right off of Miracle Mile. With a sizable parking lot across the street and Sunday Gravy Pasta (don't get grossed out, they just mean tomato sauce), we don't mind the longish haul it takes to get to The Gables just for this.

Outstanding [far beyond] notable mentions for The Gables won't stop there, though. Route 9, Patagonia, Pascal's on Ponce, and Caffe Abracci are spots we'd be silly to leave out.

Coral Gables may seem like it's an area for pricier nights out, and while that statement isn't entirely false, who wouldn't want to spend a little extra on spectacular food far off the beaten path of the typical Miami scene?



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22 comments
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Jaftorres
Jaftorres

[eating house] by far the best!!!!!  Forget Little Havana.

Manrodriguez1964
Manrodriguez1964

 Eating House is creative food, which is great but it's not authentic food and it's what most people look for when wanting to experience different foods from different countries.

Karen
Karen

Alex!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!You didn`t do your homeworke Caffe Abracci and Randazzo are you kidding me??? You missed on some great restaurants  Ortinique on the mile, Red Fish Grill, Christy`s steakhouse and Caffe Vialetto........  

Gypsywoman582000
Gypsywoman582000

that chopped champion made our wedding feast January 13, 2012!

Raissa
Raissa

Well I'm impressed by the passion that everyone on this topic posses. I have to give LIttle Havana ONE more VOTE! THis place is a great little town where music, culture and REalness exist. We might not have the most fancy ambience but we sure have FLavor. Corinna you forgot Pinolandia, Great Nicaraguense Food and the Steak Shop on 12 ave and FLagler, Rey's Pizza, La Baguette ( which will also be at the NEW MARLINS Ballpark) Ohh and we are not including that we also have the NEW YET to Open BallPARK) and THE TOWER theater. ASIAN BISTRO and MR.YUM's. To the writer of this article, Did you even come to Little Havana and have lunch?  I challenge you all to come to Little Havana and Let's have a real sit down SnackDOWn.

CQ
CQ

Little Havana hands down!  Mi Rinconcito Mexicano, El Paseo Catracho, Pinolandioa, La Camaronera, La Plancha, Taquerias el Carnal, Azucar, El Rey de las Fritas, etc. Need I say more? The establishments are nicer, newer in Coral Gables but if you are a grass-roots individual, Little Havana is better suited. 

Tina
Tina

Agree with Corinna on pitting one neighborhood against the other - both hoods have great eateries.....but taking in the fun factor which is why I am sure this "snackdown" concept was conjured up....I have to go with Little Havana!  Either if its a snack or a real meal you can find it in Little Havana (and talk about 'fun factor') its here just minutes from dwntwn MIAMI and M.Beach.  Great places to grab any delicacy (and surely not just cuban food) !  I won't go into all the choices offered - because Corinna did an excellent job at that!  I recently checked out her newly formed site Littlehavanaguide.com website - a must to see if considering any outings in the area.  I personally love Tacos at Michuacan on 12 ave. & 6 st. or El Carnal 12 ave & 8 st followed by Special Valentine ♥ ice cream delight at Azucar on 8th st....and on a budget? check out greatest 'snackdown' falafel sandwich at Barbar on 8 st and 4 ave. for $4.99 ....minutes from Brickell ave and no problem with parking...which more than I can say for Coral Gables!

@AleeeeRod
@AleeeeRod

The Snackdown concept was precisely conjured up to have fun with neighborhood camaraderie and dining. No body is "pulled in" to vote or make nasty comments (though in all honesty, they make for a great read). Cc Corinna

Corinna
Corinna

Thanks @AleeeeRod, point well taken. :-)

Corinna
Corinna

Personally, I think the idea of snackdown pitting one neighborhood against another is a ridiculous idea, and I plan to write a letter to the editor about it. Why is this necessary? 

I like both my home neighborhood of Little Havana *and* Coral Gables. I don't want to be pulled into making nasty comments like some of those shared below by the Gables proponents: why? 

Why don't we value the diversity offered by Miami as a whole? Each neighborhood/city has its own unique offerings. I admire the business owners and chefs in both Little Havana and Coral Gables who have put their heart and soul into creating special places to eat, gather and connect.

This "snackdown" idea is as ridiculous as the food shows on TV. Food is meant to be savored. Enjoyed. It's not about a competition. 

Jose D. Duran
Jose D. Duran

Just come out and say you are trying to plug your site.

Corinna
Corinna

Jose, I'm using my site as a reference, because food in Little Havana is something that I have spent a lot of time researching and writing about. I created this site as a labor of love for my neighborhood. I was tired of hearing people say, "There's nothing to do in Little Havana." If you want to visit LH I'd be happy to show you around. Can we not practice some basic level of civility and neighborliness? Jeez!

Manrodriguez1964
Manrodriguez1964

 Corinna it goes to show that today's modern wannabe hip society are more into the chic style looks. What happens is the younger crowds in their 20's and thirties have isolated them selves to hip feeling which conveys the materialistic behaviors and what happens is they criticize a mom and pop business because it doesn't capture their modern styles when most of these mom and pop restaurant's are more close to home style cooking then many of the hip over price in your face crap we have today, don't get me wrong I enjoy going out to a nice fancy restaurant with my wife and enjoy the differences in  atmosphere but most of these fancy places don't have the flavors of old school cooking again don't get me wrong we have many restaurants popping every day with great Chef's and great meals so what I'm trying to say is that people need to try and experience them selves places which they feel might not be for them. I have done plenty of restaurants in the past 30 years and to be honest every time I visit New York City the best damn pizzas are from small neighborhood shops, no arguing about it hands down. I for one visited famous more likely tourist restaurant at the Hard Rock and in my opinion it was a waste of time and money, the food was horrible and extremely expensive, never again will I set foot in that place, you live and learn. Corinna the funny thing about most if not all these critics, criticizing by posting nonsense is that probably most if not all of them or there parents came from third world countries in which small neighborhood Cafe's clog the citiy streets and towns. Great post Carinna, I congradulate you.

Gables Rox
Gables Rox

 Plus who wants forty places you can eat rice and beans, empanadas, and overcooked chicken right next to eachother! WTF

Navaronegun
Navaronegun

Coral Gables wins hands down. Better ambiance in establishments, and infinately more variety. One Vietnamese place and 50 Latin places does not equal "choice".

Corinna
Corinna

Little Havana has FAR more restaurants than you mention here, and if it's not rated higher, I suspect it's because few people truly explore the neighborhood to see all that it has to offer. 

Why not mention La Camaronera, home of the famous Minuta fish sandwich, and featured on the Food Network? Or the traditional fruteria Los Pinareños (with its delicious batidos de mamey), also featured on the Food Network and food shows across the world?We're also proud to be the home of Azucar Ice Cream, recently profiled on the BBC! Owner Suzy Batlle invents new ice cream flavors nearly daily. For her popular Abuela Maria flavor, she actually mixes pieces of Maria cookies with little pieces of guava jelly and cream cheese into the ice cream. She has 35 or so other flavors. Rating on Yelp? A solid 5 stars.Like Spanish food? Little Havana -- NOT Coral Gables -- has the top-rated Spanish restaurant on Yelp: Jamón, Jamón, Jamón (4 1/2 stars). We have two 4-star rated Spanish restaurants, too: Casa Jauncho and El Rincon Asturiano. Coral Gables doesn't have a single 4-star rated restaurant on Yelp.In Coral Gables, can you eat stone crabs or fresh-peeled shrimp while watching boats along the Miami River, and then take a dip in the pool? No? Well, you can in Little Havana (Finnegan's). And only here can you sit outside and eat scrumptious sandwiches at 3 am (La Baguette) after going to one of our top-rated music venues, PAX.Crave Mexican cuisine? Little Havana has three of the top 10 Mexican restaurants, according to Yelp. Not Coral Gables. And we even have a Mexican bakery, Guatemalan bakery and other outstanding Central American bakeries, too. In fact, hands down we have the best Central American restaurants in Miami: try Salvadoran pupusas, mouthwatering Nica carne asada and gallo pinto, and a hearty, delicious Honduran breakfast.Hmm ... how is the South American food in Coral Gables? Because we have arguably the best Colombian restaurant in Miami (San Pocho), as well as the ONLY Bolivian restaurant in Florida (so we here). People drive across two counties to go to it! In addition to Cathersis (Argentinian) we also have a fine Argentinian bakery at El Nuevo Siglo. Plus, we have numerous Peruvian restaurants and an Uruguayan restaurant.Hy Vong is not the only outstanding Asian restaurant in Little Havana, either. 2B Asian Bistro is a truly authentic Thai/Sushi restaurant where you'd better make reservations in advance! And it's next to Domino Park and the historic Tower Theater, which USA Today rated one of the Top 10 Places to see a Movie in Splendor. We also have a top-rated Middle Eastern restaurant, Barbar.

And last but not least: our Cuban eateries. You mentioned a few, but why not also mention places like El Cristo, Islas Canarias and Ayesterán? It's not just the food but the atmosphere we offer at our eateries. Our neighborhood is rich with unique, family-owned small businesses and not chains. We're proud of what we offer here and encourage you to explore our cuisine -- let alone our outstanding music and dance offerings, activities and events, arts scene, theaters, etc. Check out http://littlehavanaguide.com/d... for articles on the best. I am the author of this guide (which includes articles about all of Little Havana, and is free). I am also a resident of Little Havana and one of its ambassadors! :-)

¡Bienvenidos, y buen provecho!

jactrack
jactrack

That's it - I'm coming in!!You, my dear, are one heck of an ambassador! Good job!

Giovanny Gutierrez
Giovanny Gutierrez

Your link for Eater House is wrong (its redirecting to Catharsis).

Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez

Thanks for letting me know. Sometimes the links jump around when we save them. -Alex

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