Entering Westchester Sign

A Love Letter to my Hometown of Westchester, Florida

If you’ve read my blog over the last 12 years for any period or followed me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter, I’m sure you’ve noticed my multiple shout outs to Westchester.

As a matter of fact, if you ever watched the program Burger Land on Travel Channel I snuck in a Westchester mention.

My family moved to Westchester from New York City when I was about a year and a half old.

Before I go any further I should probably let you know what I consider Westchester, from Bird Road (SW 40th St) to Sw 8th St and from the Palmetto Expressway to SW 117th Avenue (Turnpike).

MY WESTCHESTER BULLETPOINTS

  • I attended Rockway Elementary School and later on graduated from St. Brendan High School.
  • I grew up going to Bird Bowl (still there) on the weekends, riding my bike with my sister at Tropical Park, and watching movies at one of four movie theaters in Westchester (none are left).
  • During March, we would always go to the Dade County Youth Fair at Tamiami Park, also located in Westchester.
  • My family frequented the legendary Lila’s as one of our weekly nights eating out.
  • I tried my first croqueta casera (homemade) at the original Latin American that was on SW 97th Avenue and Coral Way, and an addict was born.
  • I would buy pasteles with my late grandfather every Sunday at his favorite spot, La Suiza (still standing).
  • One of my grandfather’s all-time favorite spots was Casa Paco which is still around. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t frequent it often since the passing of my Abuelo.
  • Even my first business, a little horror-themed movie shop called Oh, The Horror DVD Shoppe, was located in beautiful Westchester.

I’m a Westchester guy through and through; I always will be.

Here are some of the iconic eating establishments located in Westchester that you NEED to check out:

LANDMARK RESTAURANTS

There is no other part of Miami with so many landmark destinations and restaurants.

These six spots are icons if you ask me, and now that you’re here reading this, you know it too.

ARBETTER HOT DOGS since 1959

Arbetter Hot Dogs
Arbetter Hot Dogs

I mean where do I start? I’ve visited Arbetter’s more than any other restaurant on this list. Whenever I drive by my car always thinks we’re going to Arbetter’s and wants to turn in.

I try to keep the peace by eating there, I don’t want any problems.

I always always always get the chili cheese onion mustard and an All-Around (relish, onion & mustard).

And I always wash those down with an order of the chili cheese fries.

ARBETTER’S FOOD

  • Arbetter's Famous Chili Dog
  • Corn Dog
  • Chili Cheese Fries

FRANKIE’S PIZZA since 1955

Frankie's Pizza
Frankie’s Pizza

You wanna talk iconic, now this is the place.

And you can’t drive by and not stare up at the sign and reminisce about it and how beautiful it is.

My late godmother would buy us (my sister and I) pizza from Frankie’s as a special weekend treat.

Now many years later, I’m still a fan of not only Frankie’s but also of its owners Renee and Roxanne, super cool folks.

I’m in love with the pepperoni slices at Frankie’s, real love not that love at first sight nonsense.

FRANKIE’S PIZZA’S FOOD

  • Pepperoni Pizza
  • Ground Beef & Pepperoni Pizza
  • Sausage & Onion Pizza

NUNZIO’S RISTORANTE since 1974

Nunzio's Ristorante
Nunzio’s Ristorante

Nunzio’s has been around forever, or at least the 1970’s. I do remember it being located initially right off of Coral Way and SW 97th Avenue before that crazy fire at Sedano’s in the mid-’80s that did some real damage to their strip mall.

NUNZIO’S FOOD

This place is old school, and it’s like walking into a relative’s living room.

Of course, folks come here for the pizza and pasta dishes, but it’s their dessert, the Zuppetta, which is a grand slam (think an ice cream version of a 3 Musketeers bar).


RIO CRISTAL since 1974

Rio Cristal - Westchester, Florida
Rio Cristal

The minute you step into Rio Cristal, you wonder if you’ve walked through a time portal to the early ’80s, but that is part of its charm. Unfortunately, Rio Cristal’s founder Jose C. Acosta or Pepe as he was known to all passed away.

He was also the founder of Lila’s and the creator of one of the most visually arresting dishes in South Florida, the palomilla steak hidden under a mound of papitas, aka #51.

The other must-have is their flan, it’s ridiculous.

RIO CRISTAL’S FOOD

  • Rio Cristal Pansito
  • Rio Cristal #51 Bistec
  • Cafecito
  • Flan

SERGIO’S since 1975

Sergios on Bird Road
Sergios on Bird Road

How much do I love Sergio’s? I don’t think there is a number that reaches that high.

My family and I have been eating at this particular location for what seems like forever, and that’s probably the case.

Give me a pan con tortilla, a bistec empanizado, some croquetas and I’m good to go!

SERGIO’S FOOD

  • Bistec Empanizado
  • Sergio's Frita Cubana
  • Sergio's Croquetas

TROPICAL CHINESE since 1984

Tropical Chinese
Tropical Chinese

I’ve never eaten at Tropical Chinese, but it’s important to include them. I know many people who think this is the best Chinese food in South Florida and make a trek here just to have the dim sum.

It’s about time I check it out, don’t you think?


THINGS TO DO

If you’re looking for a few things to do, Westchester has them, and I’m not even counting whatever is going on at Tropical Park and FIU.

BIRD BOWL

Pins at Bird Bowl
Pins at Bird Bowl

I’ve been bowling at Bird Bowl since I could barely put on my shoes.

In addition to bowling, Bird Bowl has a game room, a bar, a restaurant, and billiards.

In other words, something for everyone.


LA TIENDECITA by MARTHA OF MIAMI

La Tiendecita by Martha of Miami
La Tiendecita by Martha of Miami

The South Florida sensation that is Martha of Miami opened her shop right down the street from Arbetter’s.

Come by and check out why Martha is the queen of la sagüesera.


ONLY IN DADE

Only In Dade at Live Colors in Westchester
Only In Dade at Live Colors in Westchester
image courtesy of Sun-Sentinel

If you’re a really observant Westchester-ian then you know that Only in Dade‘s headquarters are conveniently located between Mojo Donuts and Frankie’s Pizza.


PINCHO

PINCHO Westchester Mural
Westchester Mural at PINCHO

I certainly suggest that you grab something to eat while at PINCHO but make sure to check out the great mural dedicated to the history of Westchester.


PUEBLITO VIEJO

Pueblito Viejo #2 in Westchester, Florida
Pueblito Viejo

Sure, the Colombian food at Pueblito Viejo is excellent but it’s the live entertainment on the weekends that makes it a must-stop destination.


THE BEAST SUGGESTS

Breadman Bakery's Pizza Pastel
Breadman Bakery’s Pizza Pastel

It’s very simple here are some dishes I suggest you try.

RESTAURANTDISH
3 Chefs & a ChickenChefen
A-Mari MixMacho Tacos
ArtesanosHouse Garlic Rolls
Breadman BakeryPizza Pastel
CAO BakeryGuava Pastelitos
Casa PacoPata Negra
Cayo EsquivelCamarones al Ajillo
Chicken Pollo Food TruckPica Chicken
Chifa Du KangChaufa Especial
Don DomingoEmpanadas
Dos CroquetasBuffalo Crack Croquetas
El AtlakatSuper Antojitos Atlakat
El ChalanLomo Saltado
El FloriditaTostones Rellenos
El MagueyEnchiladas Suizas
El Palacio de los JugosChicharrones
El Rey de las FritasFrita Cubana
Flanigan’sRockin’ Rib Rolls
Graziano’sParillada
Kon ChauDim Sum
La Brasa1/2 Rotisserie Chicken
La CarretaCafe con Leche & Tostadas
Le FournilCheese Pastelito
La Sin RivalHam Croquetas
Luis Galindo Latin AmericanMedianoche
Mao Colombian Fast FoodSalchipapa
Mi Ronconcito LatinoBistec Milanesa
Moe’z ExpressChicken Maicito
Mojito’sChicharrones de Pollo
Mojo Donuts & Fried ChickenFlantastic Donut
Munchies CafeHam Croquetas
Night Owl CookiesAve Maria Cookie
Odaly’s Delight CafeDiscos Voladores
Party Cake BakeryCuban Bread Roll
Punjab Indian CafeCurry Chicken
Sarussi Cafe SubsSarussi Churrasco Sub
SpecialTEA LoungeAny of their Baked Goods
Sports GrillSpecial Grilled Wings
Tasca de EspañaTortilla Española

WATCH

Dos Croquetas

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN

Charlie's Pizza ad from September 17, 1987
Charlie’s Pizza ad from September 17, 1987

All of these restaurants were at one time located in or had locations in Westchester.

RESTAURANTCURRENT BUSINESS
A&W Drive-InEmpty Lot (10995 SW 40th Street)
Arthur Treacher’sEl Rinconcito Latino (SW 40th St)
Black AngusLa Carreta
Boston MarketMaspons Funeral Homes
Burger CastleChevron (SW 40th St)
Burger CastleBurger King (SW 87th Ave)
Carvel Ice CreamLa Carreta Strip Mall
Charlie’s PizzaOne Low Price Cleaning
China MaidDon Pan
Circus WagonDon Pan
Dairy QueenBird Road Car Accessories
Dinner MaidJemay 3D
El Arte BakeryNavarro Pharmacy (Bird Road)
El CristoSenior Center Adult Day Care II
G.A.B.E.’s1First Bank
Godfather’s Pizza1First Bank
Hardee’sPollo Tropical
Kenny Roger’s RoastersCayo Esquivel
Original Latin AmericanPasteur Medical Center (Coral Way & 97th Ave)
Islas CanariasFatty Cow Hot Pot Buffet
Latin Cafe 20003 Chefs and a Chicken
Lila’sWalmart
Lila’sHome Depot
Little Caesar’sOne Low Price Cleaning
Long John Silver’sEl Rinconcito Latino (SW 40th St)
LUMSPier 1 Imports
Mister DonutMcDonald’s (SW 87th Ave)
MolinaEmpty Lot (10995 SW 40th Street)
Pollo SupremoEl Rinconcito Paisa #4
Pollo SupremoRick Gonzalez State Farm Insurance
Rally’sChecker’s
Rio Cristal IISports Grill
Royal CastleCitibank (SW 40th St)
Royal CastleCVS Pharmacy
Scott’s Fried ChickenCool Beautiful Nails
Shiver’sEl Rinconcito Paisa #4
SizzlerCAC Florida Medical Center
Sonny’s BBQShorty’s BBQ
Villa ItaliaEl Floridita
WAG’s/Jerry’sCVS Pharmacy (Coral Way & 87th Ave)
Westward HoAvenue
WoolworthKirkland’s

One Comment

  1. Black Angus (on 104) was my Mom’s favorite restaurant to go out to when we went as a family. I liked the super sugary Bronco Cooler.

GO AHEAD...LEAVE A COMMENT, I DARE YA

%d bloggers like this: