A take on ‘the world’s most famous Cuban restaurant’

Barbara Carbonell / Contributing Writer

In my experience, only a handful of places in Miami can be found buzzing with positive and welcoming energy halfway through a Monday. Recently, I’ve discovered Versailles Restaurant to be one of those few places.

From local residents out on their lunch break to tourists just visiting Miami, everyone seems to be drawn to the humble establishment located right on 8th street.

Versailles first opened its doors to the public in 1971. Since then, the restaurant has been serving traditional Cuban cuisine to a myriad of different clients and guests from all over the world.

Anyone can stop by Versailles for a warm, delicious and authentically Cuban meal. However, it’s more than just a sit-in restaurant; if the patrons aren’t quite hungry enough for a full meal, they can also pass by the café or adjacent bakery for a quick snack.

Throughout the years, this establishment has become exceedingly popular with the Cuban residents of Miami. For decades, individuals who have emigrated from Cuba, often to escape the stressful socio-political situation in their country, have come to Miami and made it their home.

Versailles is famous among these Cuban immigrants, and over the years, it’s become a cultural hub for them. Often times, these are the people that frequent the restaurant, where they meet to discuss politics, current events and their own personal experiences both in Miami and in their homeland.

Ernesto Rojas, one of the regulars at Versailles, put it quite simply, “No place like home. They’re not at home, so they come here.”


Versailles has also played a large political role in Miami. On many different occasions,  it’s been visited by politicians, often with the intention of rallying support in the Cuban community. Presidential candidates such as Bill Clinton and Mitt Romney have visited the restaurant to campaign and increase their number of hispanic votes. Other, more local politicians, such as Rick Scott, have visited Versailles to give public speeches.

Between the political influence of the restaurant and it’s popularity with the Cuban-American community, Versailles has become a landmark. It’s reputation and fame have grown positively for decades.

Nowadays, people from all over Miami and of all different backgrounds dine at Versailles. Not only this, but Versailles is known internationally, and tourists who visit Miami from other countries often spend part of their visit dining there.

It’s grown to be amazingly famous within its 46 years of life. Part of its popularity is due, of course, to its classic menu and great food.

Versailles offers a variety of different specialties, many of which are easily recognizable as keystone Cuban dishes. In my past visits, I’ve tried several of the dishes they offer, and I have yet to be disappointed by any. This time, though, I decided to try something new.

The first dish I ordered was mariquitas con mojo — plantain chips served with mojo, which is a sauce commonly made with olive oil,  garlic, and oregano. Mojo is an important part of Cuban cuisine, and it’s sometimes used for the purpose of preparing meats.

Cuban mojo originates from the Canary Islands, and through the ingredients aren’t the same, the mojo is made using the same techniques. These traditions were brought over by immigrants who moved to Cuba from the Canary Islands.

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Another Cuban dish with the same roots is ropa vieja, and this is also the second dish I decided to order at Versailles. The name ropa vieja is Spanish for “old clothes,” a name probably inspired by its appearance. Ropa vieja is a dish that consists of shredded beef, prepared in a tomato-based criollo sauce.

By the time it’s ready to eat, it’s earned its name, and it resembles a little pile of tattered clothes.

In my opinion, both of these dishes were absolutely delicious. I can see why, if anyone was looking to get a taste of Cuban culture and cuisine, Versailles would be their go-to restaurant.

The atmosphere of the place itself was also very comfortable, friendly and welcoming.

It’s easy to see how the restaurant became the landmark it is today, and how it’s come to mean so much to so many different people.

With open arms, Versailles invites anyone and everyone to experience and enjoy nearly five decades worth of warm food and good company.

Barb’s World is a column by contibuting writer, Barbara Carbonell. The views and opinions expressed in Andrea’s Aesthetic does not reflect that of FIU Student Media’s editorial team.

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