There are an estimated 197,000 Haitian immigrants making their lives anew in South Florida, and with this influx of people comes a torrent of delectable dishes sure to permanently color Miami’s culinary identity. Haitian cuisine, like its trademark hearty stews, is a rich and daunting blend of French, African, Spanish and aboriginal influence, all simmered together into a succulent whole. While you should be sure to sample such staples as Sos Pwa Na (a velvety puree of black beans, coconut milk, cloves and scotch bonnet peppers) and Accra (malanga fritters sometimes undercut with cod or herring), Haitian food offers a wide variety of fare sure to satiate any niche diner. While Griyo (a slow-roasted, citrus-marinated pork shoulder fried to perfection) and Bouyon Tet Kabrit (goat bullion) are sure to captivate any carnivorous lachanophobe (a peson who fears vegetables), those most enamored with the fruits of the sea should seek such dishes as Lambi (a conch stew seasoned with sour orange and garlic) or Pwasan Non Sos (a fish dish complemented by an interested combination of lime and thyme). Viciously vexed by meat-eating? Riz Djon-Djon or the ubiquitous Legume both hit all the necessary notes a meatless meal needs! After such a whirlwind tour of tastes, what dessert works best to palliate our overworked palate? Try Pain Patate, a winsome cake of cinnamon, evaporated milk and sweet potato served chilled.
Tasty Haitian Eats
Piman Bouk: Utterly unpretentious and mouthwatering to the last morsel, the no-frills interior of this place belies the complexity of taste and savour provided by each plate. Home of mammoth proportions and reasonable prices, try their breakfast platters that redefine the word “hearty”; 5932 NE 2nd Ave., Little Haiti.
Chez Madame John’s: Cash only. A chalk menu board. Long lines. While these might be deal-breakers for some, those in-the-know recognize that what waits at the end is some of the finest ethnic food available for the culinarily adventurous. A must-try is their Griot, marinated the night before and fried to-order, well complemented by their zesty Pikliz; 975 NE 25th St., North Miami.
Naomi’s Garden: Although not strictly Haitian, this Caribbean eatery offers some amazing island staples wrapped in a whimsically painted edifice that would make any Wynwoodite weep. Recently reopened, active in their area and a cornerstone of the community, check their calendar for fantastic live music events and more; 650 NW 71st St., El Portal.