Bird Road isn’t emblematic of Miami like Brickell Avenue, Ocean Drive, and Biscayne Boulevard. Completely absent of glitz and glamour, it’s a stalwart of the middle class—quintessential Miami. To understand the City’s Hispanic composition, one need only consider it. Let’s examine a three mile stretch of “La Cuarenta” (as it is known in Spanish)—from SW 67th Avenue to 102nd Avenue—and see what Latin America’s got cooking in this sub-tropical metropolis:
Argentina and Uruguay
Argentinians, self proclaimed experts of everything, are actually masters of steak and pizza. Their desserts, too, are delectable. At Grazianos, next to Bird Bowl, glory comes off the grill. Rest assured, though, they have competition. Uruguayans have their own haunt, Doña Paulina, 10 blocks away.
Chile and Peru
Nearby, Chile is represented by Pamela’s, which boasts excellent reviews. Its loyal clientele flows steadily in and out. Chile’s northern neighbor, Peru, has El Chalan to offer. If fusion is more of your thing, there is always Peruvian Chinese at Chifa Du Kang. Ceviche, you ask? You can buy it out of a trunk, on Bird.
Venezuelans and Colombians
Miami isn’t short on Venezuelans and Colombians, and on Bird Road, the former offer Caballo Viejo, and the latter, Pueblito Viejo #2.
For late night fast food, the Colombians have Mao. There, hot dogs and burgers are buried in sauces and mounds of shoe string potatoes and cheese.
Brazil had Brazaviva on Bird and before that there was another Brazilian restaurant. Brazaviva has since closed and has locations elsewhere. The Brazilian population is growing in Brickell and Miami Beach and is generally affluent.Their cuisine tends to be expensive, which may explain why their presence is no longer felt in thrifty Bird Road.
Miami has Cubans—lots of them. Their restaurants line Bird Road. You can find steaks buried in fries, Cuban burgers, plantain pizzas, and yuca cooked every possible way. They like their sweets and there are plenty of Cuban bakeries to sample.
Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico
Dominicans and Puerto Ricans have significant communities in Miami (though not nearly as large as in NYC) but have no restaurants on Bird—probably because there isn’t much of a difference between their cuisines and that of the Cubans (they might beg to differ).
Nicaragua and El Salvador
Nicaraguans prepare a mean steak. One can sample it at El Novillo. Their more common fare is sampled at fritanga joints. There are a couple on Bird. Salvadoreans have a popular spot called El Ataklat, which was once home to a Mexican restaurant but closed down.
Mexico, Missing in Action
While Mexicans, in terms of population, hold sway over all other Hispanic communities in the U.S., in Miami, their presence is scantly felt (confined mainly to Homestead) though Brickell has a history of wealthy Mexican residents and, increasingly, well capitalized Mexico-based buyers are snatching up condos in the urban core with vigor. Still, their general absence in the local Latin demography makes Miami’s Hispanic community rather different from the rest of the nation’s metropolitan areas.
Bird Road’s mish mash of Latin American grub is a reflection of the melting pot of Hispanic cultures in Miami—made up of people from all corners of Latin America that have converged to live exuberantly under the same relentless sun and majestic moon.
Good ol’ USA
Pillars of Miami food. Arguably the best pizza and hot dogs in town.