I’m a confirmed carnivore, and whenever I’m asked to name my favorite food, I don’t hesitate: a Cuban dish called vaca frita that translates, literally, to “fried cow”—how apt.
But my favorite incarnation of that meal comes from the first place I ever tried it, at the unpretentious gem Havana Harry’s, in Coral Gables. My best friend from college, Mel, a Miami native, took me there 10 years ago, and I’ve been drooling over it ever since. Whenever I’m in Miami, I make sure to include this family-friendly spot on my itinerary, and my recent trip was no different.
My friends were certainly a tad confused as to why I was dragging them far away from glitzy South Beach to the suburbs for dinner, but the delicious, authentic Cuban fare silenced any skeptics. And while I was happy to sample everyone else’s meals—the churrasco steak with chimichurri sauce was a definite hit—I was in a state of sheer prandial bliss the moment the heaping plate of shredded, crispy fried beef sautéed with onions and a touch of citrus was placed in front of me. Confession: I may even have schlepped my leftovers on my flight to New York and had them for lunch at work two days later. Don’t judge me—it’s that good.
Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter @BySarahKhan.