In Miami, the Cuban pastelito reigns supreme in the snack category. Spanish for "little pastry," in the Magic City pastelito usually refers to the ubiquitous crisp, triangle-shaped confections filled with guava (aka guayaba) fruit paste, although technically pastelitos can also be filled with meats, cheeses and vegetables. Countless open cafe windows and bakeries dole out fresh creations daily, but we went searching from Little Havana to South Beach and beyond for the places that make the crustiest, most satisfying pastelitos with a finely balanced dough-to-guava ratio.

Karla Bakery

Photo by Connie Lee


Pure happiness will set you back only 95 cents at Karla Bakery. The pastelitos here are humbly presented but remain a favorite in the Cuban community. As you bite into one of the stuffed puff pastries, you'll get a just-sweet-enough squeeze of guava along with lightly buttered dough. Karla also makes a fantastic array of other Cuban pastries, including pastelitos with guava and cheese, coconut and mamey fruit, so take advantage and try the full lineup. Open 24 hours and serving up both pastries and and fine Cuban hospitality, Karla Bakery is a pastelito joint you just can’t skip.

Where: Multiple locations

When: 24/7
More info: 
karlabakery.com

 

Versailles

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This small restaurant was founded in 1971 by a Cuban immigrant and has grown over the past 46 years into one of the city's landmark eateries. The grandly named Versailles has ballooned into a huge venue that serves unadulterated, classic Cuban dishes such as ropa vieja and tostones, and of course pastelitos. You can order your golden-hued guava pastry as part of your sit-down meal, or do as the old Cubans do and pop into the cafe window (aka the ventanita) section and chow down while chatting with your also-standing neighbor. Since this place is so popular, stick around a few minutes and you might catch a fresh batch. You might also find yourself engaged in some interesting political discussions, since Versailles has long been an iconic destination for Cuban-Americans in exile, hosting well-heeled politicians, celebrities and activists.

Where: 3555 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33135

When: Mon.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-1 a.m.; Fri. & Sat., 8 a.m.-2:30 a.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-1 a.m.
More info: 
+1 305-444-0240; versaillesrestaurant.com

 

Presidente Supermarkets

Photo by Connie Lee


The pastelito is a delicacy by the people and for the people, so it comes as no surprise that one of the best versions you can find is at the always-packed Presidente Supermarkets. The pastry you'll get at Presidente’s bakery counter is absolutely no-frills and comes in a paper bag that soon becomes sticky with honey. The guava-and-cheese variety here is especially worth mentioning, with a big dollop of mild sweet cheese in the middle — and they cost only 65 cents. While you're at this popular supermarket, you can also grab a hot to-go box of favorite Cuban meals such as arroz moros and palomilla steak.

Where: Multiple locations

When: Daily, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.
More info:
presidentesupermarkets.com

 

Las Olas Café

Coming in from the sun and waves and need a solid snack to munch on? Las Olas Café is just five blocks from the heart of South Beach and has been serving Cuban delicacies to hungry beachgoers for several years. The pastelitos are fat with guava here, for those of you who have a larger sweet tooth, and pair well with the cafe’s fresh fruit juices such as watermelon, orange, cane sugar (guarapo) and more. If you want something more filling, try the extremely popular Cuban sandwiches.

Where: 644 6th St., Miami Beach, FL 33139

When: Daily, 6 a.m.-8 p.m.
More info: 
+1 305-534-9333; Facebook

 

El Brazo Fuerte Bakery

Open for decades, this bakery remains a treasure in many locals’ minds, evoking memories of childhood and time spent with loved ones while the warm aromas of fresh-baked pastries fill the standing-only venue. Today, El Brazo Fuerte Bakery continues with its Cuban traditions. If you ask around, many Miamians will tell you this shop sets the bar for pastelito excellence. Flaky, with sugar crystals baked into the crust, and just the right amount of guava paste, this is in many ways the quintessential pastelito. The kind women who work the counter may not speak English, so start practicing your Spanish!

Where: 1697 SW 32nd Ave., Miami, FL 33145

When: Mon.-Sat., 6 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 6 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
More info: 
+1 305-444-7720; ebfbakery.com

 

La Suiza Bakery

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One way to find out who's the best in the baking game is to ask how long places have been around and wait till you hear, "Since forever." The pastelitos at La Suiza are big and ooze with guava, making them perfect for sharing (or indulging on your own). Despite the name (La Suiza means “the Swiss”), this is a purely Cuban-style bakery, and from the hot croquetas to the bocaditos that are also on offer, you can't go wrong with anything at this spot in the residential Westchester neighborhood.

Where: 8566 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33144

When: Mon.-Fri., 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat., 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
More info: 
+1 305-262-7376; lasuiza-bakery.com