Small plates have their perks. It can be fun to try a bunch of different things and pretend you’re a Roman emperor for roughly 45 minutes. But sometimes you don’t feel like spending $16 to fight over a grilled octopus tentacle the size of a No. 2 pencil, only to end up at the nearest drive-thru an hour later because you’re kind of still hungry. But as more and more restaurants have moved to serving small plates over the years, it can be surprisingly hard to find a place where a single plate of food is enough for an actual adult human. But they do exist, and we put some of our favorites on this guide, from a classic Nicaraguan spot for carne asada to the best no-nonsense burger joint in town.
You will not have to worry about small plates at Little Havana’s Pinolandia. You actually won’t even have to worry about plates at all - it’s a takeout spot, and your very good Nicaraguan food will be handed to you in a styrofoam box. Ordering is pretty easy here too: you want the carne asada con queso frito, a couple slabs of grilled steak with rice and beans, and a big hunk of fried cheese. It’s delicious, incredibly filling, and features absolutely zero unnecessary microgreens.
You will probably want to order the entire menu at Silverlake Bistro - not because you have to, but because everything is so good and you’re not great at making decisions. You will eventually have to settle on something, though - and while it is possible to order a few appetizers here, you can also have a great meal with only a single plate. The steak frites, crispy-skinned chicken, and their excellent burger with cheddar and porcini mayo are all like Liam Neeson in [insert Liam Neeson action movie here]. They get the job done all on their own, and need no assistance from a little gem salad.
Chef Creole is a Little Haiti institution, and also another place where you can count on receiving a styrofoam box full of delicious Haitian and Caribbean food. The oxtail, grilled conch, and wings are a great call here. You can take it to-go (they have a drive-thru too) or walk it across the parking lot to their outdoor seating in a little tiki hut with a roof made from palm fronds.
Mimi’s is a casual Edgewater restaurant with some indoor seating and even more covered (and shaded) outdoor seating. During the day, this place operates as a cafe, serving coffee, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches. At 6pm, they transition to dinner, offering a good, straightforward menu. They have some starters worth ordering - like the hamachi crudo or salt-roasted beets. But most of the entrees are a meal on their own. They have a few good seafood options, like pan-seared tuna or a crispy skin branzino with an heirloom tomato salad. They also make one of Miami’s best burgers, which has a thick patty covered in American cheese and lots of caramelized onions served with a pile of very good french fries.
Chug’s in Coconut Grove has the DNA of an old school diner, and - like it should be at a proper diner - it’s possible to order a single plate of food that’ll fill you up. They have a wonderful burger, pan con bistec, and a pan con minuta. If you’d prefer something in the non-sandwich universe, their meatloaf is excellent, as is the perfectly cooked snapper escabeche. And the all-day breakfast is a delicious thing here too. There are some starters worth ordering - like the medianoche pierogies or any of the croquetas and pastelitos, but having a great meal here certainly doesn’t require 12 plates on the table.
Naomi’s is one of our favorite Haitian restaurants in Miami (and also one of our favorite places to eat outside in the city). Food here is served cafeteria-style. You can pick between proteins like goat stew, jerk chicken, and oxtail, which are then thrown into styrofoam containers with sides like rice and peas, mac & cheese, and plantains. You can take your food to-go, but as long as it’s not raining or unbearably hot, walk around to the side of the building, find a seat in their lovely courtyard, and befriend a rooster while you eat.
Even competitive hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut would have trouble taking down three entrees at Blue Collar. Well, he could probably do it, but he’d need a nap afterward. The wonderful MiMo restaurant is like a museum of mostly American comfort foods, and serves heavy plates of ribs, rotating braised meats, spicy oxtail, and one of the best burgers in Miami. Portions are always generous at the small restaurant, but the truly remarkable part about Blue Collar is not the quantity on your plate, but the quality of every last crumb, which you will inevitably finish even though you’re about 43% past “full.”
Korean Kitchen is a great casual Korean spot in North Miami. They do a lot of to-go orders but they also have a cozy covered outdoor deck where you can sit down, order a bottle of soju, and enjoy the best kimchi in Miami. There are many more tasty Korean dishes here served in big, delicious portions. Their seafood pancake is the size of a frisbee, the bibimbap is more than enough for one person, and there are lots of great soups and stews filled with rice cakes, seafood, and more. Come here next time you’re craving Korean and tired of squirrel-size portions of tuna tartare.
Clive’s is a really great Jamaican restaurant in Little Haiti, and home to some of the best jerk chicken too. There are more very good entrees (which come with two sides) like curry goat, jerk pork, and fried conch. We usually only order one entree when we eat here, and even that’s usually enough to send us home with enough leftovers for the next 24-48 hours.
Wynwood’s Kush is refreshingly simple. You want a burger. And while picking between their very delicious burger varieties may be a little less simple, we have faith that you’ll figure it out. And if you really can’t decide, get the frita. And while the Wynwood Kush is our favorite location, any of the spots from Kush hospitality are also pretty reliable places to go when you’ve grown weary of menus that require a five-minute explanation.
Enriqueta’s is one of the best old-school Cuban restaurants in Miami, and a place where you’re all but guaranteed not to pay $14 for a single sardine. The casual restaurant is on the outskirts of Wynwood, sitting comically close to a high-rise apartment that probably wasn’t able to successfully negotiate for Enriqueta’s lot. This is good news for us since we can still come here for a great (and incredibly affordable) breakfast or lunch. Focus on the massive sandwich selection, featuring a very solid pan con bistec and one of the best croqueta preparadas in Miami.