If you want a good meal in Miami but you’re on a tight budget, El Palacio De Los Jugos is a must visit. Actually, regardless of budget, this Latin American food court comes highly recommended.
The iconic El Palacio De Los Jugos, which translates to “Juice Palace”, opened back in 1977 as a small takeout juice stand on Flagler. Fast forward over 30 years and this juice stand, which now has several locations, sells a lot more than just juice.
Mike and I dropped by the original Flagler location which is essentially a Latin American food court with ready-to-serve dishes. Each section of the mini food court specializes in something a little different – chicharrones, juice, Cuban sandwiches, seafood and pork (of course!) in a handful of different preparations.
There is plenty of outdoor seating underneath a large covered area which protects customers from the rain and blazing sun. Speaking of protection, there’s also a security guard manning the place…
Anyway, back to the food. There’s certainly a little bit of everything at El Palacio de los Jugos. We found that most of the people working here didn’t speak English very well, so we ordered by pointing.
We started off with some fresh Guava Juice and Pina Colada Juice which are a total steal at $2 each. They have an incredible selection of fresh juices and shakes. We enjoyed (aka inhaled) our first two juices so much (so quickly) that we ended up purchasing two more – Watermelon Juice and Mango Juice. Incredible value. I don’t know where else you can get fresh juice for this price!
If you’re going to purchase only one food item from El Palacio de los Jugos, it’s gotta be the chicharrones which I believe is around $9.99/lb. They cut the pieces to order and are easily the best I’ve ever had. The skin was perfectly crisp (I’ve had some that are too crispy – y’know, the ones that make you feel like you’re cracking your teeth with each bite) and they came with a bit of juicy, fatty meat still attached. I had to control myself from eating too many of these cholesterol bombs.
To snack on, I also ordered a Tamale ($1.50) from one of the stands. They asked if I wanted ketchup with it…is this a thing? Not that I’m complaining, I grew up eating ketchup on everything. Anyway, the tamale, which was served piping hot, was solid but nothing memorable since it was a plain one.
After walking around the place several times, Mike and I finally decided on one of the stalls at the front of El Palacio de los Jugos. We ordered the Yellow Rice, Roast Pork and Stewed Pork. I have absolutely no clue how much each of the individual items cost but this enormous mountain of food only cost us $10! When Mike pointed at the items we wanted, the lady behind the counter kept piling more and more into the styrofoam container until it was about to break. The container wouldn’t even close – comically large portions for the price!
We started by taking a bite out of the Roast Pork and oh. my. gosh. This was some of the best Cuban-style pork I’ve had in Miami. While it may look boring, bland and dry, it was quite the opposite. It was so incredibly moist, well-seasoned (although maybe a touch too salty) and full of flavour (aka tons of garlic). Even as leftovers, I was surprised to see that it still maintained its moisture.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the same great things to say about the Stewed Pork. Flavour-wise, it wasn’t bad but it was just really, really dry. We didn’t end up eating much of it… not something I’d order it again.
As for the rice, it was quite tasty (especially with the roast pork) and definitely plentiful. We ate the leftovers for the next two lunches. Not bad for $10, eh?
There isn’t much in terms of atmosphere but if you’re looking for great value in Miami, El Palacio de los Jugos is definitely the place to go!
At a glance:
• Started out in 1977 as a small takeout juice spot; now has several locations serving up an extensive selection of Latin American fare
• Very casual and no frills; food court style with ready-to-serve dishes
• Outdoor seating under a covered area
• Free parking
• Incredible value – spent only $20 and we had leftovers enough for two more meals
• Must orders: any of the fresh juices ($2 each) and chicharonnes
• Open from 8am everyday until 9pm (Mon to Sat) and 8pm on Sundays
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 3.5 stars
• Service: N/A
• Atmosphere: 1