Swinging open the front door of Guajiros Miami Eatery is like entering a portal to Florida. With a bustling energy and upbeat music playing, the welcoming wait staff immediately put a smile on my face. Serving many dishes familiar to my mixed Latinx background, Guajiros provided a unique twist on classic Cuban-inspired Miami cuisine that exceeded my expectations. With a varied menu sure to have something for everyone, Guajiros is a must-visit restaurant for anyone spending time in Downtown Charlottesville.
Guajiros Miami Eatery is located about a 20-minute walk from Central Grounds on West Main Street. Open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday, Guajiros serves both breakfast and lunch. With plenty of different dishes to choose from on their menu, Guajiros is a great restaurant for a variety of food audiences.
Walking in, Guajiros has a unique vibe that is unlike any restaurant I’ve visited. With images of Frida Kahlo and Puerto Rico’s town of Old San Juan lining the interior walls, the connection to a mixture of Latinx identity is palpable. Guajiros is clearly beloved by many, as it has been jam-packed with people every time I’ve passed by — be sure to put your name and party size in with the host as early as you can and anticipate some wait time.
According to their website, Guajiros Miami Eatery takes inspiration from Miami and South Florida food culture with Cuban, Central and South American influences — music to my ears. Latinx-inspired cuisine is my favorite food genre and I love embracing different aspects of my identity through food. With many of my Cuban relatives living in Florida, this type of cuisine speaks to the experiences of my own family which I am always excited to explore.
First I ordered a cafecito — a shot of Cuban coffee priced at $2.50 each. According to their menu, all of the coffee Guajiros offers are “espresso based, cuban style coffee with caramelized sugar.” The cafecito comes in a miniature coffee mug and is stronger and more bitter than I expected. My boyfriend ordered an iced cafe con leche which is much sweeter. The cafe con leche is a softer cafecito combined with steamed milk that allows the sweetness from the caramelized sugar to shine.
I ordered every dish at once, so our food took a while to come out to the table. As appetizers we ordered the yucca frita and queso frito which were both under $10. The yuca frita are yucca wedges lightly fried and drizzled in their house seasoning and pink sauce with parsley to garnish. With a crisp exterior and smooth, evenly cooked interior, the yucca frita perfectly balanced starch with sauce.
The queso frito are fried cubes of white cheese that tastes like a salty mozzarella. I first tried queso frito in Puerto Rico with my family last winter, and the Guajiros version tastes exactly the same. The queso frito comes with a dipping sauce that is moderately spicy with a hint of honey. While the fries were a bit cold, the yucca was by far my favorite. Both appetizers came in a decent portion size perfect for a table of two.
I ordered the pan con lechon as my entree — a pulled pork sandwich with onions and a garlicky aioli served with house-made plantain chips. Served on a small aluminum baking sheet with golden toasted sides, this sandwich had a humble and rustic presentation that resembled the laid-back vibes of the restaurant. The pulled pork is tender and seasoned beautifully — it tasted just like the pulled pork I remember from family trips to Florida in the summers of my childhood. Priced at $11.95, this sandwich is a great choice if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck as it was filling and tasted great reheated as leftovers.
For dessert, we ordered two pastelitos — one with only guava and the other a combination of guava and cream cheese, both encased in a glistening flaky puff pastry and priced individually at $2.50. I grew up baking and eating pastelitos with my mom, and I even baked them in March with my cooking class at the International Center. While this dish reminds me of home, I much prefer the beignets. Priced at $6 for three, the beignets are light, airy ovals of fried dough drizzled in guava and condensed milk with an even dusting of powdered sugar. They are as delicious as they sound. While I am most familiar with the pastelitos, I’ll be ordering only beignets from now on.
Guajiros was quite the positive experience, and I will absolutely be back. While I had preferences for certain menu items, everything I tasted was delicious and their wide menu selection makes Guajiros a great place to bring family and friends.