La Camaronera: Standing Up For Shrimp Near Calle Ocho

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Restaurant Sign Miami

La Camaronera has been a popular Little Havana seafood counter for decades.

The affable, white-haired Garcia Brothers – Arsenio, Juan, and Ramon – have run this strip mall seafood shack northwest of Calle Ocho since 1973. This establishment is so bare bones that there are no seats, just a jagged blue counter to stand and eat. They don’t even bother with printed menus, opting for an overhead version. On the south end of the room, a display case features fresh seafood. The decorative highlight: a clock that reads WELCOME ABOARD. Lucky for the customers who uncomfortably “dine” at La Camaronera, the Garcia Brothers have devoted more thought into how to prepare local seafood.

Shrimp Miami

My main course starred Camarones Empanizados ($10), lightly breaded, expertly fried jumbo shrimp served with arroz con pescado (yellow rice with “fish bits”) and tostones (flattened and fried unripened plantains). Fish bits were overcooked but flavorful grouper.

Hushpuppies Miami

I kicked things off with Bollitos de Carita, also known as hushpuppies, a dime apiece. Misshapen, golden fritters were pillowy and clearly fried in fresh oil, a world apart from dense musket balls I used to choke down at Tennessee catfish parlors.

Soup Miami

Sopa de Cherna ($2.50) was the only dish that didn’t impress me, a yellow broth containing overcooked grouper chunks and Progresso-level noodles. The broth had too much oceanic funk for my taste.

Other interesting menu options included Huevas Fritas (Fried Roe), Muela de Cangrejo Moro (Stone Crab), Rueda de Cherna (Sliced Fried Grouper), Pescado Entero Frito (Whole Fried Fish), Langosta Empanizada (Breaded Lobster). Next time.

For dessert, I asked in Spanish (the only language spoken) whether the flan de leche was prepared in house, and the counterman responded in the affirmative, but I caught him pulling a plastic package from the fridge and canceled my order. It was for the best. I was already on high from gorging on oceanic comfort food, and Thanksgiving dinner was only hours away.

La Camaronera: Standing Up For Shrimp Near Calle Ocho


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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