When you think of South Florida, there are a few things that typically come into mind: sandy beaches, sunny skies, gorgeous people, palm trees, and a very active senior community. What most people fail to realize is the abundance of delicious food Miami has to offer.
Being 3,000 miles away from home, I often long for this cuisine. Here are a few reasons why the next time someone mentions South Florida, you should immediately get hungry.
1. Cuban Food
If there is one thing I have learned while living in South Florida is that Miami makes sure Cuban food is done right as it is only 90 miles away from the southernmost point of Florida and has the highest concentration of Cubans in America.
Restaurants all across South Florida, especially on 8th street (calle ocho), specialize in Cuban food and stay open until the early hours of the morning. The authenticity cannot be matched anywhere else.
The bold flavors of Cuban food are a fusion of Spanish, Caribbean, and African cuisine with common staples such as skillfully seasoned rice and beans, succulently sweet plantains, and tender roast pork (lechon asado).
2. Florida Stone Crabs
Florida Stone Crabs are considered a delicacy. The crabs, themselves, are fairly small, but the claws are colossal (making up half the crab’s body weight) and make for a delectable meal.
What emerges once you crack the shell is the sweetest and most tender meat you will ever taste. To ensure sustainability while harvesting (only allowed between October and May), only one claw is removed from the crab before it is returned to the ocean for regeneration.
Stone crabs are traditionally served with melted butter or, my personal favorite, a special mustard sauce. Simplicity is key and Joe’s Stone Crabs is the place to try these. Once you try Florida Stone Crabs, you will be hooked for life.
3. Fried Seafood
One of the major perks of living in South Florida is that whether you travel south, east, or west, you will hit the ocean filled with fresh seafood. One of the greatest and tastiest ways to eat a fresh catch is to lightly fry it and serve it with a wedge of lemon/lime, some tartar sauce or cocktail sauce. (Hint: this method is not for the calorie conscious.) However, whether you grill, bake, fry, or sear it, nothing beats the taste of freshly caught, never frozen seafood.
An order of conch fritters is always one of my favorites and can be found at Bo’s Fish Wagon.
4. Key Lime Pie
Floridians are so crazy about key lime pie that it has been declared the official pie of Florida. The pie is the perfect balance of tanginess and sweetness. The custard provides a tang that is counteracted by the lightness of either whipped cream or meringue while the graham cracker crust provides a slight crunch.
You can find the pie as pictured above at Blue Heaven in Key West. The key lime pie is topped with a whopping dollop of meringue that is torched to achieve a perfect golden brown.
5. Publix Subs
Now this is something only a true Floridian will understand. With locations only in the South, the delight of going to the counter, watching your sub be masterly crafted, and enjoying that first glorious bite in complete excitement is a phenomenon that is entirely unrelatable to most of the nation.
People who haven’t experienced a Publix sub will not understand what is so special about a sandwich. To that I say, it is not just an ordinary sandwich, but the perfect combination of the freshest ingredients that makes for a truly wonderful experience. The hype is real.
After enjoying all this food and more in a short two week time period, I can finally say I’m satisfied and can’t wait until spring break to reunite with my hometown favorites. If you have learned one thing from this article, it should be that you need to visit South Florida with an empty stomach right now.
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