If you live in Miami, the sheer mention of Islas Canarias makes you think of one thing…CROQUETAS! Before Islas Canarias became synonymous with Miami croquetas, it was another great Cuban restaurant that opened in the 1970s.
In 1977, Raul Garcia and his wife Amelia opened up their now-legendary restaurant at 285 NW 27th Avenue. The original spot was sold in 2015 and continues to operate to this day as El Caribe Cafe, another great real deal Cuban comfort food restaurant.
Over the years other Islas Canarias popped up around town including a couple in Westchester, one in the mid-1980s and another in the early 2000s.
Raul and Amelia’s daughter Nancy would open an Islas Canarias restaurant (13695 SW 26th Street) to feature their family recipes. It was this eatery that would give them legendary status as it pertains to their housemade ham croquetas.
If you did a poll and asked 100 Miamians who makes the best croqueta in Miami, 95% would say Islas Canarias.
Islas Canarias carries on its legacy as a classic Cuban restaurant and a cafe/bakery about a mile away. Plus, two sister restaurants are run by Nancy’s daughter Eileen Andrade, FINKA, and Amelia’s 1931.
There are plenty of options to choose from but remember you must start every meal with at least one croqueta.
THE ORIGINAL ISLAS CANARIAS CROQUETAS
The recipes varied slightly at the original Islas Canarias on NW 27th Avenue.
It was always a much closer option to pick up or eat in for me.
The croquetas at this location, while good, never reached the flavor stratosphere that everyone’s favorite does.
ISLAS CANARIAS RESTAURANT
I have never stepped foot inside of the Islas Canarias restaurant but I’m well acquainted with its drive-thru and pick up window.
The sandwiches are solid, my Mom loves the malanga chips and of course, my regular drive-thru order of 20 croquetas is what brings me to this dance.
If you’re planning on heading out to use the drive-thru you’re probably be better off calling in your order so it’s ready when you arrive.
Whenever I’m waiting for those croquetas, it seems like an eternity.
ISLAS CANARIAS CAFE & BAKERY
Right down the street from the flagship Islas Canarias restaurant is their cafe slash bakery.
While the restaurant is old school, this spot has a bit more updated feel to it.
It’s one part cafeteria and one part bakery.
You can get all your favorite pastelitos here and one other fantastic item, party size Islas Canarias croquetas.
These alone are worth the visit here.
I’ve enjoyed breakfast a couple of times here and usually start with a cafe con leche.
A few croquetas and a pan con tortilla (omelet sandwich) round out my breakfast.
I like to keep my omelet simple, Swiss cheese, and ham.
For me, Islas Canarias Cafe is more of a late lunch spot.
They’ve got some tasty malanga fritters but what you need to order is their bistec empanizado or bistec de Pollo milanesa.
The bistec empanizado (breaded steak) is larger than the plate, but what makes it unique is the breading.
If you like ham and cheese, then the milanesa de pollo (breaded chicken steak topped with the good stuff) will fulfill your chicken parmish dreams.
No real lunch meal is complete without a flan and a cup of Cuban coffee to wash it down.
A BURGER BEAST TREAT
After making my way through the drive-thru line at Islas Canarias, the lady at the window tells me they have no croquetas left.
I couldn’t believe it, so I text Eileen to make sure someone isn’t playing a cruel trick on me.
Nope, all gone.
She said to come by the new restaurant they’re building out called FINKA.
They were testing out the new fryers by frying a case of croquetas.
There was no packaging to be found, so the croquetas were given to me in a Papa Johns box.
CUBANCUBE FOOD TRUCK
Written on August 14th, 2011
From the good folks at Islas Canarias restaurant, home of the Best Croqueta in the world comes CUBANCUBE.
2 years ago at my inaugural Burgie Awards, they were named the Best Croqueta in Miami.
It’s a distinction that’s hard to disagree with once you have one.
They’re not a one-trick pony though.
There’s a wide variety of Cuban influenced dishes to drive you crazy on the CUBANCUBE.
Two menu items caught my eye right off the bat.
I can’t wait to try the Milanesa Bite no “s”, a breaded steak bite topped with a house tomato-based sauce, ham, and cheese.
The Cuban Belly Buns (Cuban-style marinated pulled pork topped with roasted garlic, caramelized onions, and pork cracklings) seem right up my alley too.
The Islas Canarias Restaurant dates back to 1977, so you know they do it right.
Plus, the ability to now have a croqueta on the go is never a bad thing!
CUBANCUBE would go on to participate in the 2012 and 2013 editions of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival with these dishes.
Unfortunately, Eileen and Jon shut down CUBANCUBE so that they focus on their new restaurant.
FINKA Table & Tap is a fusion of Cuban, Peruvian, and Korean flavors.
You can find now them at 14690 SW 26th Street in West Kendall.
Islas Canarias is Croqueta County, makes sense to me!
They’ve created this excellent Croqueta County box that was delivered to me by croqueta elves which included a Croqueta County tee.
It is available at the Croqueta County website if you’re looking to pick one up for yourself.
The nicest reveal was to find their famous croquetas hiding inside of the little cazuela, very sneaky and very tasty.