Miami’s reputation as a food haven is no secret. Hungry visitors flock to Prime 112, Yardbird, The Bazaar and Joe’s Stone Crab to dine in style and see the South Beach scene. But when I visit Miami, I have a slightly different strategy. My favorite bites come from small spots praised by locals and lesser known to tourists —the types of places you’d go if you actually lived in Miami. The best bite yet comes in the form of a Venezuelan specialty from a cozy cafe called European Corner that doesn’t sell European fare at all. The slight trickery is part of the charm.
While its name would certainly suggest European inspired food, this corner cafe is serving up traditional Venezuelan cuisine. My friend who happens to be Venezuelan and from Miami took me here and revealed to me what I’ll hold as a true gem of my travels, a place I’d have totally missed otherwise. We feasted on arepas, traditional Venezuelan sandwiches, held together by two corn based patties and filled with a variety of stuffings. The winner was stuffed with shredded braised meat and a mountain of grated salty white cheese. The arepa itself fronted a fluffy interior and a slight crisp initial bite. A side of alfajores, simple sugar cookies sandwiching a smear of dulce de leche, are a necessary accompaniment. The cookies were buttery, slightly crumbly and deep in caramel flavor —Spring break certainly does taste sweet.