Savoring Florida: A Culinary Tour of Sunshine State Delicacies

Florida offers more than just beaches and oranges. With its extensive coastline spanning 1,350 miles, varied climate zones, and multicultural population, the Sunshine State beckons seafood enthusiasts, aficionados of southern cuisine, and lovers of island flavors. Key lime pie and seasonal stone crabs are readily available, but the culinary scene goes beyond these classics. Whether you’re craving traditional Old Florida dishes or innovative international fusion, there’s a plethora of dining options to explore while soaking in the ocean breeze.


Ceviche, originating from Peru, has found a welcoming home among seafood enthusiasts in Florida. Particularly appealing in the sweltering heat and humidity of the Sunshine State, this chilled and citrus-infused dish has become a favorite. Cvi-che 105 stands out as Miami’s premier upscale cevicheria, boasting a chic and minimalist ambiance. Alongside a sophisticated cocktail menu highlighting pisco-based drinks, the restaurant offers a diverse selection of ceviche options. Among them is the acclaimed Ganador Mixto, blending green-shell mussels, clams, shrimp, and fish in an orange-chile sauce, complemented by vegetables and a hint of cream. It’s no wonder that Cvi-che 105 has become a beloved destination for locals seeking a refined seafood dining experience.

Stone Crabs

While Maine boasts lobsters, Florida is renowned for its stone crabs—robust, rosy-hued claws that demand considerable effort to crack open their tough shells. However, the succulent, lobster-like meat within makes it all worthwhile, though it’s undoubtedly a treat to have someone else handle the hard work. Enter Joe’s Stone Crab in South Beach, a culinary institution that has been serving its signature dish since 1913, predating the incorporation of Miami Beach as a city. Even after more than a century, this seasonal, no-reservations restaurant remains as popular as ever, often resulting in long wait times for patrons. Fortunately, for those seeking a quick claw fix, there’s a convenient takeaway counter situated on the side of the building.

Cuban Sandwich

Derived from the Spanish word for “flowers” or anything floral, Florida shares a rich and enduring connection with the Latin world. Representing this diverse history is the iconic Cuban sandwich, which traces its origins back to 1915 at Columbia Restaurant, the oldest dining establishment in Florida. Initially known as a mixto, this sandwich encapsulates the cultural melting pot of Tampa, blending various culinary influences: Genoa salami from Italy, Spanish ham, mojo-marinated pork, Swiss cheese, German pickles, and mustard, all nestled within the soft embrace of Cuban bread. To this day, the bread is sourced from La Segunda Central Bakery, a bakery established 96 years ago, shortly after the inception of this beloved sandwich.


Originating in Cuba, the frita has become a beloved Miami classic since the 1950s, brought over by immigrants fleeing the Cuban Revolution. This twist on the hamburger features a beef patty seasoned with cumin, paprika, and pepper, topped with crispy potato sticks (papas fritas), all nestled between slices of flaky Cuban bread. Since 1976, el Rey de las Fritas has been renowned for serving some of the city’s finest. While their menu offers various options, including one with fried plantains, purists swear by the Original Frita Cubana. This iconic dish combines ground beef and chorizo with a “secret formula” of spices, finished with raw onion and julienned fries.


As the official state fruit of Florida, oranges take center stage in the Sunshine State’s culinary landscape. Paired with the state beverage, orange juice, and symbolized by the fragrant orange blossom, they are an integral part of Florida’s identity. At Robert is Here, a fruit stand established in 1959, patrons can sample two out of three of these citrus delights, along with possibly some orange blossom honey. From its humble beginnings, this Florida City institution has grown into a sprawling open-air market offering an array of tropical fruits, including lychees, dragonfruit, and guanabana, alongside a diverse selection of oranges and citrus. During citrus season, visitors can indulge in navel, red navel, temple, and valencia oranges, or opt for one of the stand’s acclaimed fruit-filled milkshakes.


Synonymous with Miami Beach, the mojito reigns supreme as a refreshing cocktail choice for locals and tourists alike. Whether strolling down Lincoln Road or Ocean Drive, nearly every outdoor cafe offers this Havana-born beverage by the glass or pitcher. For an exceptional rendition of this fizzy rum concoction, head to the Delano South Beach. This upscale art deco hotel, designed by Philippe Starck, boasts a poolside setting adorned with elegant palm trees and cabanas. Here, amidst the stylish ambiance, patrons can savor sublime mojitos crafted with fresh lime, white rum, mint, and simple syrup, finished with a splash of club soda. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a day spent soaking up the sun.

White Ale

In homage to Florida’s rich history as a cattle-raising state, Cigar City Brewery pays tribute with its Florida Cracker white ale. Named after the colonial-era pioneers known as Cracker Cowboys, this Belgian-style beer hails from Tampa and is infused with orange peel and coriander, delivering a bright, citrusy flavor reminiscent of the state’s official fruit, the orange. Perfect for warm weather gatherings, this brew has become a staple at pool parties and beachside barbecues across Florida.


While cities like Portland and Brooklyn may lead the third-wave coffee movement, Miami has long embraced the caffeinated culture thanks to its love for cafe Cubano. Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop in Midtown is a standout destination for aficionados of Cuban coffee. From a small service window, the skilled staff prepares the perfect cafecito—a potent shot of super-sweet coffee, served in espresso cups. For those seeking a milder option, a cortadito or cafe con leche, featuring hot steamed milk, provide equally satisfying alternatives.

Conch Fritters

Many of Florida’s inhabitants bring their culinary heritage with them, enriching the state’s gastronomic landscape. Conch fritters, originally from the Bahamas, have firmly entrenched themselves as a Sunshine State favorite. At Key Largo Conch House, housed in a charming seaside bungalow, you can savor these delightful fried morsels made from freshly caught seafood. Diced conch, celery, and carrots are infused with lime juice, a touch of curry, and Key West Southernmost Wheat Beer, then deep-fried to golden perfection and served alongside a creamy, spiced dipping sauce.

Gator Tail

For an authentic taste of Florida that might just remind you of chicken, sampling some alligator is a must. Tucked away in Homestead, Gator Grill may not be on the typical tourist route, but its unique offerings, including grilled gator tail, make it worth the detour. Marinated in a special Cajun-style blend, the bite-sized pieces of gator are flavorful and tender, especially when accompanied by the housemade cilantro cream and chipotle sauces.

Colombian Hot Dogs

While New York and Chicago are famous for their hot dogs, Miami boasts its own version: the Perro Caliente, Colombia’s answer to this beloved street food. Mao Colombian Fast Food is where you’ll find these boiled dogs nestled in soft buns and piled high with a variety of condiments, including crushed potato chips, pineapple sauce, mustard, ketchup, and pink sauce. Mao goes the extra mile by offering a wide selection of toppings for guests to customize their hot dog experience.

Mango Salsa

During the summer months, Floridians are not only trying to beat the heat but also looking for creative ways to use up the abundance of mangoes that grace their streets. Jimmy Hula’s takes advantage of this sweet fruit by incorporating it into a tangy mango salsa, the perfect accompaniment to their fish tacos. Grilled, blackened, or fried sustainable whitefish is nestled in grilled flour tortillas and topped with this refreshing tropical salsa, adding a distinct Floridian twist to a Southern California favorite.

Gulf Oysters

Since 1929, the McNeil family has been serving up delicious seafood in Port St. Joe, near Panama City. Today, Indian Pass Raw Bar, as it’s known, remains a beloved spot for locals and visitors alike to enjoy Gulf oysters sourced fresh from nearby Apalachicola Bay. These plump, slightly salty oysters with a sweet finish are highly sought after by chefs nationwide, making Raw Bar a must-visit destination for those craving the freshest seafood experience.

Guava-and-Cheese Pastelitos

In Little Havana, Pastelmania offers an eclectic selection of Cuban pastries that cater to every palate. Among their offerings, the guava-and-cheese pastelito stands out as a quintessential taste of Miami. This oversized pastry is filled to the brim with a sweet and tropical guava-cheese mixture that oozes with every flaky bite, embodying the essence of Miami’s culinary diversity.

Florida Seafood Stew

Winter in Florida brings forth a bounty of fresh produce while the rest of the country braces for colder weather. Combining this seasonal abundance with the state’s rich seafood heritage, Florida seafood stew emerges as a classic dish. Chef Lindsay Autry, drawing inspiration from Florida’s culinary history, serves up her take on this hearty stew at The Regional. Fresh tomatoes, celery, and pureed carrots are slow-simmered with Florida shrimp, cobia, and Sebastian Inlet clams, creating a comforting and flavorful dish that pays homage to the state’s coastal cuisine.


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