Versailles is a restaurant the same way that Mount Everest is a mountain, or Muhammad Ali was a boxer, or Pitbull is just a bald guy from Miami. Sure, it’s a fact, but it’s also a massive understatement. Versailles isn’t just a Cuban restaurant - it’s Versailles. It’s one of those celebrities who only need to go by one name. It’s Bono, if Bono smelled like pork and coffee.
But the wonderful thing about Versailles - the reason eight out of ten Miamians have been here within the last year - is the fact that it’s still a great place to eat. We don’t come here because it’s a museum. We come here to eat croquettes, drink café Cubano, and talk sh*t. Versailles has never lost sight of this fact and continues to pump out massive amounts of affordable, quality Cuban food for people who are looking for a good meal rather than just a photo and a history lesson.
It’s a healthy instinct to be skeptical of any place that describes itself as “the most famous” whatever, but Versailles actually is the most famous Cuban restaurant in the country. This strange, palatial diner with the interior of a carnival funhouse built for fancy children has served as a rallying point for Miami’s Cuban exile community since 1971, and has catered to generations of locals and busses of tourists since then. Almost every surface inside is a mirror, which makes this place look infinite from certain angles. It also feels like there are roughly 5,000 servers working here, darting around separate dining rooms so fast that walking to the bathroom without getting clobbered by a tray of rice and beans requires a great deal of agility.
Versailles’ menu weighs as much as a grizzly bear (or about three and a half Pitbulls) and is filled with everything from ropa vieja and palomilla steak, to a cheeseburger and chicken cordon bleu. It’s one of those places where most people have a go-to order - but if you haven’t picked yours yet, try out a few of the classic Cuban plates, which are better than anything that sounds too fancy or blatantly un-Cuban. The ropa vieja is a great, tender pile of shredded beef you can combine with white rice and sweet plantains, you can never go wrong with arroz con pollo, and you shouldn’t be allowed to leave until you’ve had the flan and cafecito side by side. Also, if you don’t get an order of croquettes, you deserve to be hit in the head by one of those trays of rice and beans.
Versailles’ outdoor ventanita is almost as popular as the dining room, and a good option if all you want is a quick cafecito and a couple pastries. There’s also a to-go bakery next door, in case you owe someone a pastelito. And just like how Bono has transcended the job description of mere musician, there are plenty of reasons to come to Versailles aside from the fact that it’s the most famous Cuban restaurant in the known universe - which is why it’ll probably still be here in another 50 years doing the exact same thing.
We’re not sure why everything here doesn’t come with a little cup of mojo on the side. At least you can dip these crispy mariquitas into that magical sauce. Or, better yet, save it for pouring over everything else you order.
Famous, maybe, but it’s far from the best Cuban sandwich in town. Get it if you are hellbent on recreating that scene from Chef , but there are much better things on the menu.
Croquettes are as common as hit-and-runs in this town, but Versailles’ are some of our favorites - crispy on the outside and soft and savory on the inside.
The snapper is lightly fried, but tender enough to take apart with your fork. This is a fun one to split with the table and a solid seafood option if you’re experiencing meat fatigue, which is a condition covered by most Miami health insurance plans.
These fried pork chunks are, indeed, fried pork chunks. They’re tasty and fatty in the best way possible, but we wish they were a little crispier on the outside. They still go great with a pile of white rice and plantains, though.
When we close our eyes and think about Versailles, this is what we see. Ropa vieja is a great dish in general and Versailles does it wonderfully. The shredded beef is super tender, garlicky, and made 1,000% better when you throw it on top of a warm mound of white rice.
Also known throughout most of the world as arroz con pollo, this dish is as comforting and familiar as watching a Mr. Rogers marathon underneath your favorite blanket.
Versailles’ flan is tasty, but thicker than most - almost like a cheesecake consistency. We highly recommend pairing it with a café Cubano. It’s the sugar rush you need after eating a third of a farm.