Haitians are one of Miami’s most important immigrant groups, and Haitian Miamians have established vibrant communities stretching from Little Haiti all the way up to Aventura, with the city of North Miami being one of the community’s largest enclaves.
But despite their strong presence, they have has also been at the receiving end of a lot of bigotry from all sides in Miami. And decades of discrimination and harmful stereotypes mean that Haitian food hasn’t received nearly the attention it deserves. It features many West African elements, as well as delicate French-inspired recipes and adaptations of Middle Eastern classics. Dishes are seasoned with fiery scotch bonnets and fragrant thyme, as well as sweet cloves and star anise. And while there are many great Haitian restaurants throughout Miami to try, these 13 are our favorites.
This quick-service restaurant situated between El Portal and Little River serves various Haitian dishes (including a super flavorful legim), but people stand outside the little ventanita in the hot Miami sun (or torrential rain) for their crispy fried drumsticks. Haitian-style fried chicken (or poul frit) isn’t as heavy on the breading as other versions and only gets a dusting of cornstarch for crispiness. However, what it lacks in coating it makes up for in flavor - a combination of thyme, scotch bonnet peppers, cloves, and citrus that’s typical of Haitian food. The poul frit here comes with a side of bannann peze - the Haitian equivalent of tostones - that are flavorful on their own, but even better topped with a tangle of the vinegary cabbage and scotch bonnet slaw known as pikliz.
This small, cash-only takeout spot in North Miami specializes in seafood. They stick to traditional Haitian-style preparations and make the best whole fried snapper in Miami. While whole deep-fried fish can often be overcooked and have a chalky, stringy texture, that’s never the case at Fidele-la. They have truly mastered the art of frying fish, seasoning the snapper in epis, dredging it in a light coating of cornstarch, gently lowering it into a vat of hot oil, and then removing it at the precise second it’s ready. The result is a shatteringly crisp skin concealing moist, flaky, and addictively flavorful fish. It’s so good that you don’t really need the side dishes, although their diri kole is solid - fluffy rice, tender red beans, and just a slight hint of sweet cloves.
There are many Haitian bakeries throughout Miami, but this place stands out for its amazing Haitian-style bread and savory puff pastries called pate. You can find it just west of North Miami on 441 and while the bakery can only accommodate about two people at a time on weekday mornings, you’ll regularly see the overflow of customers forming a line into the parking lot. They seem to constantly have fresh loaves of dense, rich Haitian bread coming out of the oven, and it’s hard to not tear into the warm loaf while walking back to your car. Their beef pates, however, are the real draw here and perhaps the best and most consistent in Miami. The thin puff pastry is so fragile that it comes apart in delicate shards as soon as you go in for a bite. The spicy beef filling provides a little wake-up jolt in the morning, while the rich, buttery layers of pastry will keep you satisfied until lunch comes around.
Bon Gout is one of our favorite places in Miami to get a taste of Haitian-style smoked meats. The best thing to get here (and the most unique) is their griot taco, which they call a zako - a combination of taco and “zoe,” a slang term to describe Haitians. The griot is chopped and added to a toasted tortilla with a strip of melted queso fresco and a sprinkle of spicy, tangy pikliz. It’s a perfect handheld take on this classic pork dish that has just the right amount of creaminess from the cheese. They also serve ribs and chicken that feature some Haitian seasonings, but otherwise are just prime examples of delicious, smokey barbecue. Among their sides, the Haitian mac and cheese is the true standout - the creamy sauce is made from evaporated milk and spiked with scotch bonnet chiles, thyme, and other seasonings.
This is one of those places that feels like it could only exist in Miami. Naomi’s Garden is located on a side street between I-95 and State Road 7 (right where Little River and Little Haiti meet) and is owned by an Israeli family. However, after realizing how the neighborhood was becoming home to more Haitian immigrants several decades ago, they decided to hire Haitian cooks and convert their health food spot to a Haitian restaurant. As a result, this is one of the few places that offers vegan Haitian dishes, and you can opt for salad or veggies if you want to avoid the more traditional starchy sides you’ll find at most Haitian spots. If you’re cool with meat though, the goat stew here is phenomenal - a huge portion of tender braised chunks of meat in a spicy tomato sauce seasoned with cloves and thyme. Definitely order a side of their macaroni gratin, too - the Haitian answer to baked mac and cheese consists of ziti in a spicy, cheesy sauce that’s one of the best versions in the city.
Located in Little Haiti, this is one of the only places in Miami where you can regularly get homemade Haitian-style ice cream. All of their ice creams are made with evaporated milk, which gives them an extra rich flavor without being too rich. While Lakay makes a bunch of different Caribbean-inspired flavors, the passion fruit’s balance of tartness, sweetness, and creaminess is perfect on a hot day (or any time, really). If you’re a fan of rum raisin, Lakay has the best version in Miami, made with Haitian Rhum Barbancourt. Besides ice cream, Lakay is also one of the few places that sells pen manchèt rolls, which are said to look like machete blades, and are perfect for sandwiches or dipping into a café au lait.
This North Miami Haitian restaurant got its start in a home kitchen where the owner sold her amazing griot to Haitian expats hungry for a taste of home. Griot is one of Haiti’s national dishes and consists of chunks of pork marinated in a complex mix of spices called epis, slowly braised (sometimes overnight), and then quickly deep-fried before serving. The end result is a mountain of fatty and lean pork pieces that are crunchy on the outside and super tender on the inside. Chez Madame John makes one of the best versions around and each order is made fresh. You can opt for the griot simple, which comes with a side of bannann peze and pikliz, or go for the griot complèt with a side of diri kole - a dish of beans and rice cooked together with cloves.
Chef Creole Seasoned Restaurant
Chef Creole doesn’t bill itself as a Haitian spot, but rather a Creole restaurant, and they include many non-traditional dishes in their menu, like Bahamian-inspired conch fritters, along with fried, grilled, and stewed seafood dishes. They even have a refrigerated display showcasing the day’s catch, which may include snapper, spiny lobster, or local shrimp. While all the seafood dishes here are great, the standout is the grilled conch - something that’s unique to Chef Creole. They tenderize each piece of conch by hand and marinate it in a Haitian-inspired seasoning before getting grilled over charcoal, resulting in a finished dish that’s lightly charred, just a bit smokey, and the perfect balance between firm and tender.
If you’re looking for Haitian stews, this is the place to go. Located on NW 7th Avenue between Opa Locka and North Miami, Lecap is a counter-service spot where you choose what you want and then wait for the staff to call out your order - first in Creole and then in English if they don’t get a response. While you’re waiting, make sure to check out the dining room mural depicting the Citadel, a fort built by the newly independent Haitians in the 1800s to protect themselves from French invasion. The legim is the star attraction and can sell out quickly. This stew is made from a medley of vegetables, including cabbage, eggplant, chayote squash, carrots, green beans, and watercress, as well as chunks of beef. They start the stew well before they open for breakfast and don’t serve it until lunch (sometimes a little later) when the beef becomes fork-tender and the vegetables break down to a delicious, velvety mush. It has a slight smoldering heat from scotch bonnets and a bit of sweetness from a ton of cloves. If they’re sold out by the time you arrive, try the zepinad instead, a beef and spinach stew that’s similarly seasoned.
North Miami is home to a major Haitian enclave and this is one of the few restaurants in the area that specializes in some of Haiti’s more luxurious dishes. Sundays are the best day to stop by, especially in the morning when they serve an excellent version of soup joumou - a hearty pumpkin stew containing beef, trotters, pasta, and root vegetables that’s a New Year’s Day tradition, but available at many Haitian restaurants on weekends. It also comes with a slice of fresh Haitian bread and a ripe banana to round things out. But if you arrive a little later, you can enjoy a truly special Haitian dish of stewed chicken in a cashew-studded tomato sauce (poulet en sauce noix) with a side of djon djon rice. This rice dish features Haitian black mushrooms, a fungus native to Haiti that tastes similar to porcini mushrooms and dyes the rice a deep black color. Lima beans and cashews are also added to the dish for some texture. And no matter when you come, definitely order the “atomic juice” - a lightly sweetened blend of beet, carrot, orange, and other juices that’s L’Auberge’s own unique creation and a refreshing start to any meal here.
This cozy place is owned by Radio Piman Bouk, which has its studio on the second floor of the building. This radio station has been a news resource for Miami’s Haitian expat community for decades, and eating here really feels like you’re part of an important cultural institution. The menu features a lot of Haitian standards done very well, like the ke bèf, or oxtail stew, which arrives bathed in a glossy tomato sauce with a kick of heat. Their fritay - a category of deep-fried Haitian specialties that includes meats, root vegetables, and fritters - are made to order and typically take a while to arrive (as much as 30 minutes). The tassot kabrit (braised then fried goat) is also excellent - it’s crispy on the outside, very tender on the inside, and goes beautifully with pikliz, bannann peze, and diri kole.
Once known as New Florida Bakery, which you can still see the old sign for outside (it’s now owned by Radio Piman Bouk too), this Little Haiti institution is home to some truly excellent Haitian baked goods. The puffy pates are one of the draws here, but they can vary depending on who’s making them - some days they feature delicate inflated crusts that practically collapse if you stare at them too hard, and other days, they’re a little denser and quite chewy. There are fans of both styles, however, the fillings are always on point - super moist and perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of scotch bonnet heat, as well as onions and a touch of citrus for acidity. Even their cod filling, which can be dry at other bakeries, is practically dripping with juices. Piman Bouk also makes a variety of rich Haitian cakes with almond extract and covered in buttercream, as well as praline candies called tablette made from peanuts, cashews (or fresh coconut chunks), muscovado sugar, and freshly grated ginger. They’re great on their own but even better crumbled over a bowl of ice cream - maybe even from Lakay, which is just minutes away.
Cayard is another all-timer among Miami’s Haitian community and specializes in a little bit of everything, all of which they do pretty well. Their pates are legendary and chewy rather than flakey - kind of like an extra rich croissant. They’re not always available, though, but that doesn’t seem to deter customers from waiting around until a fresh tray comes out of the oven. Cayard has a great selection of traditional Haitian-style cakes too, including a super moist sweet potato cake called pen patat made with boniato yams and seasoned with a generous amount of freshly grated ginger. On weekends, they also serve soup joumou to go, and like their pate, the soup tends to sell out quickly.