The sign at Versailles proclaims, “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant” and while I’m not qualified to verify this claim, I can vouch for the first class dining experience. Last Saturday, after spending the morning on South Beach and the afternoon at a University of Miami baseball game we decided to go to Versailles for dinner.
This is a place John’s parents took us over thirty years ago. At that time, I wasn’t a very adventurous eater, and I remember being reluctant to try any of the strange dishes listed on the menu. I’m not sure what I ate or if I left my meal on my plate afraid to try foods I hadn’t heard of, but I do remember feeling very uncomfortable as John’s dad squeezed the car into a much too small parking space in a dark parking lot behind the restaurant on Calle Ocho and then waiting to be seated by a hostess I had difficulty understanding. Yes, I’d lived in Florida for almost ten years at that time, but I’d lived in Jacksonville and Lighthouse Point. I felt overwhelmed by the sites and sounds and food of Miami.
Now almost thirty-five years later I thoroughly enjoy everything about Cuban food. In fact, at Friday night’s baseball game I ate the Chicken Cubano, what I believe to be the best ballpark food in the country. Versailles added a parking lot across the street so we avoided the problem of parking the Suburban in a spot designed for a Mini. Either the hostess spoke much better English or I’m accustomed to the sound of the Cuban accent. And the problem ordering this time did not involve trying to find something I was willing to try but instead trying to decide which of the many dishes to order. In fact, John and I decided to get two different meals and then split them so we could taste a greater variety of food.
If excellent food is the hallmark required to earn the right to claim the world’s most famous Cuban restaurant, then Versailles deserves this badge of honor. I expected this to be an expensive meal, but the dinner prices ranged from $8-$15…not bad! And where else can you enjoy the entertainment of a mariachi band strolling through the restaurant while dining? If you visit Miami, a meal at Versailles needs to be included in your plans.