The Secret, Tastiest Tapas Restaurant in Miami? It's Inside a Gas Station. No, Really!

·Editor at Large
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Don’t judge a gas station by its cover … inside is the tastiest tapas you’ll find in Miami.

I love stumbling upon something secret. I’ve been coming to Miami for years and have always loved the food, but on my latest trip I found something really unique.

My friend Mauricio picked me up from the airport and saw me yawning, so he asked if I wanted coffee.

“Sure,” I said.

“Okay,” he nodded, “I will take you to the best coffee and tapas in town.” And then he pulled up at a BP gas station on SW 17th Avenue.

So fresh. Soooo good!

“Mmmm, okay,” I said. Skeptical. I don’t have an issue with gas-station coffee—I’m from Ohio and Kentucky, and that stuff is in our blood—but the most amazing coffee in Miami? Home of Little Havana? I wasn’t so sure. And then I went inside. On the left was your typical gas station fare: cigarettes, chips, mints. But on the right was a wine shop and a gourmet coffee shop, complete with cakes, macaroons, and tarts, as well as savory treats like empanadas and meat pies. In the back is a restaurant, El Carajo, known to locals as “the best tapas in Miami"—offering up dishes like cod fritters with homemade cilantro aioli, chorizo tentacion, (spanish chorizo, botifarra, and blood sausage over house potatoes and asparagus), sardinas fritas, and a variety of paellas.

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I only had time for espresso and an empanada—which were incredible—but I will be back.

As I was checking into my hotel I mentioned the restaurant to a woman in line and the front desk manager looked at us and said, “Oh, El Carajo? It’s the best!” I agree.

What: El Carajo

Where: 2465 SW 17th Avenue; 305-856-2424

Below, I give you a tour of the best little gas station in Florida: