The caja china is canceled.
Huge family gatherings for nochebuena, where the guest of honor is a 40-pound roasted pig, are out in 2020, when coronavirus cases nationally, and locally, are spiking. But lechon remains the centerpiece of the Latin tradition of celebrating Christmas Eve with mojo-marinated roasted pork and all the fixins.
No one is stopping you from dragging out the cumbersome roasting box on wheels to cook a small pork shoulder, a paleta, or roasted leg, a pierna, for your celebrations with your household. But for this time when smaller family gatherings are encouraged to stop the spread of COVID-19, another good option might be to leave the roasting to someone else.
Besides, you can still order a larger serving for days and days of pan con lechon, dripping in mojo.
Here are some of our favorite picks of markets, restaurants and grocery stores in Miami that are offering traditional nochebuena meals to go.
El Rinconcito Latino
The restaurant is taking orders in advance, but also up to the day of nochebuena. A larger paleta costs $75 or $150 with two sides. A smaller paleta costs $45 or $90 with sides.
Six locations including the original, 10481 SW 40th St., Westchester. 305-225-0200. ElRinconcitoLatino.com
West Kendall’s favorite Cuban restaurant has already posted its holiday menu at IslasCanariasRestaurant.com, where it is taking orders. A small 7-10 pound paleta, enough to feed up to 9, costs $40. A larger pierna, enough for up to 25, costs $105. Roasted hams, turkeys (including stuffed turkey) start at $55.
Two locations including 3804 SW 137th Ave., west Kendall. 305-559-0111. IslasCanariasRestaurant.com
The favorite little spot on Calle Ocho is offering a paleta for up to eight people, with two sides, for $75. A larger pernil, which yields 25 servings, with sides, costs $215. The restaurants is also offering its buñuelos — figure eights of fried yuca dough with an anis syrup — for $6 a person. Their cuts are limited so diners are encouraged to make their reservations early.
3805 SW 8th St., Coral Gables. 305-448-8224
Latin Café 2000
The restaurant is offering a whole pork shoulder, or paleta, sliced or whole, for $57. Add moros and yuca for $80. Feeds 8-10. Other offerings include a larger roasted leg, a pierna, for $135 ($190 including sides), roasted ham ($57), and a turkey fricassee meal with sweet plantains and rice that serves 15 for $180.
Three locations, including 875 NW 42nd Ave., Miami. More info at LatinCafe.com. 305-642-4700
Luis Galindo’s Latin America
Still one of the best Cuban restaurants in Miami, this spot is offering a whole, 16-pound pierna for $50, an 8-pound paleta for $40 and a roasted ham for $65. Sides can be ordered individually, at a cost of $1.85 per person. Call at 4 p.m. to place your order.
898 Red Rd, West Miami. 305-267-9995
The restaurant is taking orders online and at individual restaurants in advance. The deal, including roast pork, a choice of two sides (including moro rice, yuca, black beans) costs $107. It serves 8-10 people.
Seven locations including the original, 9330 SW 40th St., Miami. Ordering and info at Sergios.com. 305-552-9626
All Sedano’s Supermaket locations are offering a nochebuena meal package this year. However, the orders are on a first-come, first-served basis at each store so they encourage customers to order early. They will open their hot-food department at 7 a.m. Christmas Eve for any last-minute purchases. The 10-person meal costs $60; the 15-person meal costs $90. They come with a choice of pork or ham and sides such as yuca, congrí rice, sweet plantains and tamales.
Multiple locations including 1170 W 49th St., Hialeah. 786-364-4100. More info on locations at Sedanos.com.
Versailles and La Carreta
Versailles, which also owns La Carreta, is offering its nochebuena deal at both of its catty-corner restaurants on Calle Ocho. Their roast pork with moro rice, yuca, and plenty of mojo serves up to 12 for $90.
For something fancier
The new-Cuban American restaurant is offering its own high-end version of a nochebuena meal to go. The meal includes caja china-style roasted pork with housemade mojo and onion, mojo yuca, white rice and black beans, shrimp enchilado, herb salad the restaurant’s famous candy cap mushroom flan and tres leches. The cost is $180 for four, $360 for eight. For more information, call 305-640-5862.
3540 Main Highway, Coconut Grove. ArieteCoconutGrove.com
Here’s one for the fancy folks. All month, Bulla is offering a take-home, cochinillo holiday meal in the Spanish style. The suckling pig (or a half pig) comes with sliced, roasted potatoes and comes garnished with onions and garlic. Diners can add ham croquetas, pan con tomate, or a tortilla Española. The whole pig, which yields 12-16 servings, costs $380. The half, $200. Either must be ordered five days in advance.
Several locations including 2500 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables. 786-810-6215. BullaGastrobar.com