Raúl Musibay: You'll leave the restaurant being proud that you are Cuban.
Glenn Lindgren: Or wishing that you were Cuban.
Jorge Castillo: Legend has it that Versailles started its life as a French restaurant -- on Calle Ocho? The facility and the location proved ideal for Cuban Felipe Valls, Sr. who created this now legendary restaurant back in 1971.
Glenn Lindgren: The restaurant's décor looks like the Palace of Versailles in France. I've never seen so much etched glass and so many mirrors in a restaurant. It is the ultimate spot for people watchers!
Raúl Musibay: Any time there is any news event that affects Cubans, the TV vans line up outside to do their pieces on the Cuban pulse beat. It's also a popular hang out for politicians and they've had several famous visitors over the years.
Glenn Lindgren: Let's just say the sight of a limousine or two or a couple of Suburbans loaded with secret service agents hardly raises an eyebrow here.
Jorge Castillo: The problem with many legends is that their glory fades before the legend is forgotten. Just a few years ago, our recommendation of Versailles would have been lukewarm. They seemed to be living mainly on their reputation.
Raúl Musibay: They also had become a "first night out" dinner place for at least one cruise line.
Glenn Lindgren: Yes, Versailles remained a popular hangout for the local Cubans, but the food was merely good, not great. The restaurant's popularity was having a negative effect -- parking was a major problem (and still is) and the dining experience was rushed at best. The days of enjoying a leisurely meal were over.
Jorge Castillo: In the past few years, Versailles has really experienced a Renaissance. We're very happy to report that on recent trips the food has been fantastic. The glory days of Versailles have returned.
Glenn Lindgren: Versailles has always had one of the largest Cuban food menus we have ever seen. The sheer diversity of this large menu really keeps the kitchen hopping. If they don't have it on the menu, it's probably not Cuban food!
Jorge Castillo: With such an incredibly large menu, it's hard to isolate a few favorites, but we'll try.
Jorge Castillo: The soups are very good here and I especially like the garlic and egg soup, a beef-based soup with chunks of tender (and mild) garlic.
Glenn Lindgren: Garlicky roasted chicken, infused with a great citrus flavor, is a real crowd pleaser. You get half a chicken for a very low price -- a real bargain.
Jorge Castillo: Hey, if you like lamb...
Glenn Lindgren: ... and even if you think you don't...
Jorge Castillo: ...the "jarrete de cordero" is a moist and flavorful dish.
Glenn Lindgren: The boliche here is really great. Served with thick, dark gravy, this Cuban version of pot roast is a cut above anything you'll ever find in an American restaurant.
Jorge Castillo: They also do a wonderful milanesa de pollo a lightly breaded boneless chicken breast with a delicate Spanish sauce and melted white cheese.
Raúl Musibay: Try eating all that in one sitting!
Jorge Castillo: Can't make up your mind? Order the "classic" combination plate, which comes with a Cuban tamal, lechón asado (roast pork), and picadillo brimming with onions, sweet peppers, and raisins.
Glenn Lindgren: As in all Cuban restaurants, entrees come with frijoles negros, white rice, and sweet plátanos maduros. Everything is made with fresh ingredients on site.
Raúl Musibay: No one leaves here hungry! Portions are huge and there are usually plenty of leftovers to take home.
Jorge Castillo: Versailles makes all of their own bread and desserts in their attached bakery next door. So, be sure to save room for dessert. We especially like the unique turrón de jijona flan. It's light and eggy with the great nutty taste of turrones (a Spanish candy popular at Christmas time.)
Glenn Lindgren: Order the crema catalana the Cuban version of crème Brûlée and you'll get a huge serving. This tasty custard, with a golden brown crunchy topping of caramelized sugar, is enough for two.
HOURS: Sunday through Thursday: 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 a.m. | Friday and Saturday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 a.m.
ATMOSPHERE: Miami Casual
PRICES: Entrees priced less than $12, several sandwiches and appetizers priced less than $6.
CREDIT CARDS: American Express, Diners Club, Discover, Mastercard, Visa
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