Neighborhood Gems: Chez Madame John's

Classic Haitian dishes in North Miami

Last month, Tasting Table asked readers for their favorite neighborhood gems. Now we're introducing the winning picks.

Griot, accra, pikliz: These are Haitian Creole words every Miamian should know.

One of the best places to learn them is Chez Madame John's, a humble counter service Haitian joint in North Miami.

Sure, the space possesses less charm than a DMV office. Dishes are served in Styrofoam, it's cash-only and service, though helpful, is slow. Despite these drawbacks, Chez Madame John's is still a terrific place for hearty, beguiling Haitian food.

Fans of Cuban fried pork will gravitate toward griot, marinated and fried cubes of pork shoulder whose crisped exteriors give way to fork-tender meat. Pikliz, pickled onions and Scotch bonnet peppers, rev the palate and provide a piquant counterpoint to the griot's richness. Order the griot as a meal complet ($9), accompanied by red beans and rice and fried green plantains (banane peze).

Accra is made of grated malanga (a yucca-like root) fried to a deep bronze. This is no one-note starch bomb–it smacks of lively citrus, attained with the sour orange juice mixed in ($1 for 3).

Legume ($9), a vegetable and beef stew, is fattier and less tasty than at some other Haitian spots. Instead, try the cabrit en sauce ($10), with tender, earthy goat meat doused in peppery, gently spicy goat jus and scattered with tomato and punchy raw onions.

The Haitian customers lining up at the counter know what's up. Now you do, too.

Other Other Favorite North Miami neighborhood gems: Chef Creole, Lutong Pinoy, Ricky Thai, Cane Á Sucre