I remember the first time I stepped foot inside of Versailles restaurant in Miami. My family had only been in the U.S. for a few months, and my papi missed abuela’s cooking. Although my mom was a fine cook, we all wanted to have fried sweet plantains just like grandma used to make—and we found it there. Supposedly the oldest Cuban restaurant in the U.S., it has been a family staple ever since.
However, after living in New York City for 12 years and traveling around the country, I have learned that Miami is not the only place where you can find great Cuban food in America. In fact, every city seems to have a phenomenal go-to when you’re missing ropa vieja, pernil, fricasé de pollo or any other Cuban dish you grew up with. And if you’re not actually Cuban but simply LOVE Cuban food, that’s okay too.
From the Miami staple of Versailles (duh) to Rincon Criollo in Queens to a surprise winner in Seattle, here are the 10 best Cuban restaurants across America.
Versailles Restaurant in Miami, Florida
Although there are many, many Cuban restaurants in Miami, this has and will forever be my favorite. It’s where I always send any non-Cuban friends who are looking for a taste of Little Havana when they head to Florida. There’s a reason why Versailles Restaurant has been around since 1971: The solid, delicious, incredible, authentic food.
Rincon Criollo Restaurant in Houston, Texas
Although you may have better luck finding great Mexican food in Texas, anyone who loves Cuban food should visit Rincon Criollo. You’ll find authentic flavor thanks to all of the classics. The expansive menu includes chicken, salads, fish, a kid’s menu and so much more. You can even order online if you’re in a rush to carry it all home.
Victor’s Cafe in New York, New York
Victor’s Cafe in Times Square of New York City may not seem like anyone’s pick for a Best Cuban Food list, but you’ll have to trust me on this one. I had my doubts, too, but their black bean soup and platanos maduros tasted just like abuelita’s, so they win my trust. A bit pricier than you’re probably used to, but worth it if you happen to be in the area.
90 Miles Cuban Cafe in Chicago, Illinois
Admittedly, Chicago is more than 90 minutes to Cuba… But you’d never know it once you set foot inside of 90 Miles Cuban Cafe, where the food is as delicious as if you were vacationing in the southern tip of Florida. The really fun part is that they have a Cuban brunch menu that is a pretty perfect demonstration of how to do Cuban breakfast foods right.
La Teresita Cafe in Tampa, Florida
La Teresita is the go-to Cuban restaurant if you ever find yourself in Tampa, and yes, definitely worth a visit. The time to come to this classic restaurant and banquet hall is in the evening, where there is daily live music that will make you sway as you eat your authentic dinner. You’ll feel as if you are on the island itself, trust me.
Versailles Cuban Restaurant in Los Angeles, California
Does the name sound familiar? It should, since this is the same as the one in Miami—but don’t confuse the two restaurants, since they are most definitely NOT related. Unless, of course, you count that the Versailles in Los Angeles has the same delicious, authentic Cuban food as the restaurant of a similar name in Miami. And with more than one location, who can complain?
Rincon Criollo Restaurant in Queens, New York
Another demonstration that, sometimes, you have to just go with a similar name in a different city—Rincon Criollo in Queens is THE best Cuban food you will find in the New York City metro area (though our other favorite on the list is great, too). It’s no wonder that they were featured on Guy Fieri’s Food Network show… Yes, they really are that good.
Havana Cafe in Dallas, Texas
You can probably type in “Havana Cafe” into a Google search in any city, and you will find a mediocre Cuban restaurant. But this Havana Cafe in Dallas is the real deal. With a menu filled with more Cuban favorites than I can count and a really pleasant atmosphere, this Texas restaurant is one not to miss if you find yourself in the city.
Papi’s Cuban & Caribbean Grill in Atlanta, Georgia
Yes, you really CAN find good Cuban food in the south. Or, at least, in the southern city of Atlanta, where Papi’s Cuban & Caribbean Grill thrives. You’ll especially want to head here for special holidays—such as Noche Buena (Christmas Eve)—for a special menu that includes the Cuban classic lechón asado that’s sure to please everyone you go with.
Paseo Caribbean Food in Seattle, Washington
You might be traveling a bit too far away from Cuba if you head to Seattle, but you can still find your favorites at Paseo Caribbean Food. They’re known for their sandwiches (which, I admit, are sometimes a bit untraditional—like the Tofu Delight) and other classics like the pork loin and classic black beans or caramelized onions. A bit out there, but pretty damn good.