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The saga of the Palace of Juices continues.

Rey Bermudez and his wife Poli Bermudez started the business some 30 years ago. The couple divorced, leaving Poli and her son, Rey Bermudez, Jr. with the original Palace of Juices and the newer location on S.W. 8th Street on the far western edge of Miami. Rey senior kept the location on Miller Road and 102nd.

For nearly a dozen years, these three locations shared a philosophy and a name. However, a recent agreement between Rey Bermudez, Jr. and Miami restaurateur, Felipe Valls who owns both the Versailles restaurant and the La Carreta chain, has forced a name change for the Miller Road location.

The former Cuatro Ruedas restaurant, which for a short time was a La Carreta, is now a Palace of Juices.

Rey senior's Miller road location "Segundo Palacios de los Jugos" has now become "La Juguera Tropical." Rest assured that although the name has changed, everything else remains the same!

The Freshest Juices in Miami

Palace of Juices Exterior
Our favorite Palace of Juices (now La Juguera Tropical) on Miller Road -- almost walking distance from Raúl's house.

Glenn Lindgren: The first time I came to Florida I expected to find fresh squeezed orange juice flowing from every tap and fountain in the state. As soon as we hopped into our rental car, we started our search for the delicious golden beverage. We stopped at several grocery stores and I was amazed that not one of them sold fresh squeezed orange juice. The refrigerator shelves were stocked with the same reconstituted orange juice I was so sick of drinking in Minnesota. It just didn't make any sense that in the land of the orange there wasn't a drop of fresh juice to be had.

Jorge Castillo: There are several orange groves in the state where you can stop and pick up a gallon or two of delicious juice.

Glenn Lindgren: But it still baffles me why when there is so much fresh juice available in Florida, most people just drink the reconstituted brands available in the supermarket.

Raúl Musibay: Hey, you don't have to look very hard to find orange juice in Miami!

Glenn Lindgren: We have a couple of favorite places in Miami for fresh squeezed juices.

Making sandwiches
Glenn holds a calabaza
Making sandwiches for the lunch crowd. | Plenty of tamales, masitas, and chicharrones. | Picking out a calabaza for the grill.

Palace of Juices/La Juguera Tropical

Jorge Castillo: At the Palacio de los Jugos (Palace of Juices) they squeeze it to order right in front of your eyes.

Glenn Lindgren: The juice is always fresh and very sweet at this funky little restaurant/market.

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It is Sunday in Miami, shortly past noon, and the after-church crowd is lining up at "El Segundo Palacio de los Jugos," The Second Palace of Juices in the Miami-Dade community of Westchester. Already the long picnic tables under the shade of a large awning are beginning to fill as a dozen customers enjoy this fine day with an impromptu picnic.

Many visitors to Miami know little about Cuban cuisine; most frequently believing that Cuban food is not far removed from the Tex-Mex cooking they enjoy back home, and then disappointed to find nary a taco or burrito on the menu.

Here at the Palace you can learn everything you need to know about Cuban food in just one place, the heart and soul of Cuban cooking at a simple, neighborhood fruit and vegetable market.

At the Palace of Juices in Westchester, on this sunny Sunday, old and young alike are sipping on tiny cups of hot café cubano and discussing the day's events outside at the walk-up window. Just inside the front door, the locals are ordering freshly squeezed juices: orange, mango, pineapple, grapefruit, and guanábana, a delicious tropical fruit with a light pineapple-citrus flavor, or mamey, a sweet fruit with flavor elements of peach, apricot, raspberry, and pumpkin. Whether by the glass or in quarts and half gallons, the juice is always flowing freely here. The orange juice machine in particular never seems to stop as orange after orange drops mechanically down into the squeezing chamber.

Back by the in-store side of the coffee window, an expert cocinero is assembling a classic treat, the Cuban sandwich, here made with real roast pork, and a splash of mojo, the garlic citrus marinade that gives Cuban dishes their distinctive flavor.

The sandwich maker is flying high today with a dozen orders for the classic Cuban and its equally popular cousins: pan con lechón, a sumptuous sandwich of tender roasted pork and pan con bistec, a thin slice of beefsteak served on Cuban bread with onions and a layer of crisp shoestring potatoes still hot from the fryer.

Next to the guarapo machine is a heated glass cabinet stacked on one side with crispy fried chunks of pork and on the other with chicharrones, thick slices of pork from the belly and sides of the pig. Each piece of chicharrón includes a layer of skin, a layer of fat, and a layer of meat. They slow cook the meat until it is extremely tender, then roast and lightly fry it in its own fat. You eat the entire chicharrón, biting through these three layers so that the flavors merge in your mouth. Fat-phobic Americans may wince at the sight, but nutritionally, eating chicharrones is no different from eating bacon.

Another treat lies waiting right next to the cash register, a huge steaming caldron of freshly made Cuban tamales. If you think "hot tamales," you have the wrong country. Cuban cuisine combines the flavors of Spain, the tropical fruits and vegetables of the Caribbean, and a strong African influence.

Continue past the sandwich station, toward the rear of the store, and smell the fine mist of sour orange, garlic, and onion in the air. This is where some "serious" Cuban cooking is taking place. There is nothing fancy here, just good, solid Cuban food prepared in the country style. Along the far wall, a bubbling kettle of black beans competes with a simmering pot of picadillo, rich with ground beef, tomato, onions, green peppers, and spices. Other delights compete for space on the stovetop: vaca frita, tender beef that is shredded, fried, and served swimming in a rich tomato-based sauce and the king of Cuban cuisine, lechón asado, a pork leg marinated in mojo and slow roasted until the meat quite literally falls off the bone.

A young Cubanita behind the front counter is feeding juicy stalks of sugar cane into the side of a gleaming stainless steel cabinet. A carafe captures a steady stream of fresh sugar cane juice as the machine rumbles and grinds the cane into a woody pulp.

The juice, called guarapo, is a favorite Cuban drink on a hot summer day. Extremely refreshing with a light flavor, guarapo is not overly sweet as many people presume. In fact, it has a sugar content that makes it just slightly sweeter than orange juice. Some people even swear by guarapo as a potent aphrodisiac!

The plantain, el plátano, looking like a giant green banana, is a staple of every Cuban kitchen with dozens of uses. Here, as in most Cuban restaurants, they are most frequently served as maduros, tender, sweet plantains fried lightly in oil and as tostones, the starchy version of this versatile fruit. Brought to Cuba by African slaves, tostones look similar to a thick yellow cookie speckled golden brown. Fried twice, once to soften and again to crisp, the tostones are smashed between fryings to create their unique shape.

You will also find fufú de plátano, a tasty mashed plantain dish spiked with pork pieces and rich with garlic flavor. Pick up a bag of mariquitas, thinly sliced plantain deep-fried into crispy chips. They taste great dipped in mariquitas sauce, rich with the flavor of garlic, citrus, and olive oil.

It may have just dawned on you, but you have just spent a lot of time shopping at the Palace of Juices and you have not picked up a single piece of fruit! There are displays of tropical fruits in various stages of ripeness in large bins that line one wall. Make your selection from an array of fruit that includes everything from finger-sized niño bananas, to ripe juicy mangos, and tangy guavas. Today, many people are bagging up a selection of fruit to take home.

What trip for Cuban food would be complete without a delicious dessert? Up by the cash registers are trays of sweet guava paste layered between slices of salty cheese, and coquitos, deliciously sweet coconut morsels. In a revolving refrigerated carousel, tres leches cakes drenched in sweet milk syrup and containers of rich eggy flan and tocinillo de cielo (flan's lighter cousin), march alongside plastic cups of tropical fruit cocktails, swimming in juice.

Pay for your purchases at the register, pick out a spot at a table outside, and enjoy one of the best simple pleasures of living in Miami: great food, friendly people, and a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Cuban food may be highly spiced, but it is rarely spicy hot. That is because most Cuban dishes do not include the hot peppers that are such an integral part of many Latin American cuisines. Unlike Mexican tamales, these cornhusk-wrapped bundles, all tied neatly with a white cotton string, get their flavor from fresh corn masa with hints of garlic and onion. The meat in a Cuban tamal is mixed in with the dough and not used as a filling, so that these tamales are flecked throughout with shreds of roasted pork or ham.

The Details

At the Palace of Juices, the juices are just-squeezed fresh and delectable, but don't miss the smorgasbord of Cuban culinary delights that abound here. Great sandwiches, chicharrones, masitas, and plate specials: solid, country-style Cuban meals, such as picadillo, with ground beef, tomato, onions, green peppers and spices, or vaca frita, tender beef shredded, fried, and bathed in a rich tomato-based sauce.

HOURS: Daily 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.


ATMOSPHERE: Very casual

La Juguera Tropical

At "El Segundo" in Westchester (now called La Juguera Tropical), they have their own version of Mr. Clean: a bare-pated gentleman in a white shirt and black vest who does nothing all day but assemble the pantheon of Cuban sandwiches to order from his perch in the middle of the store.

HOURS: Daily 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.


ATMOSPHERE: Very casual

Palace of Juices
5721 West Flagler Street
Miami, FL 33144
Palace of Juices
14300 Southwest 8th Street
Miami, FL 33184
Palace of Juices/La Juguera Tropical
10140 Southwest 56th Street
Miami, FL 33165

Palaces of Juices

This new Kindle version contains all of the recipes and editorial copy from the original print edition. As a bonus, the new Kindle edition includes 24 new photos of the prepared dishes.



This new Kindle version contains all of the recipes and editorial copy from the original print edition. As a bonus, the new Kindle edition includes 14 new photos of the prepared dishes.


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