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Nov 5, 1999 10:51 AM

Miami Beach Restaurant Recommendations?

  • d

My husband and I are going to Miami Beach for Thanksgiving and I'm looking for restaurant recommendations. I've looked through these postings and found a few, so I know for sure we'll be heading to Calle Ocho for some good Cuban food.

I've seen no mention of The Blue Door and wondered if anyone has any experience with the restaurant, since we've got Friday night dinner reservations there. All I've heard from a few friends is that it's very expensive and that they serve a terrific seared foie gras.

Also -- and truthfully -- is it worth standing in line for dinner at Joe's Stone Crab? Is there any place in the area that serves conch chowder and/or conch fritters?

Any suggestions for a place to go for Thanksgiving dinner? It doesn't have to be fancy (who wants to get all dressed up?) or expensive or traditional. Just something kinda special...

Thanks in advance for your input.

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  1. Please see my earlier post about my Miami Favorites, my hometown. As far as Miami Beach, I absolutely suggest The Crystal Cafe, it doesn't look like much from the outside, but the food is fabulous and the chef very renowned. Eons above anything on Lincoln Road vicinity, and not overly expensive. Definitely skip Joe's Stone Crabs, it changed owners a couple years ago, and it had already been downhill for awhile. You can get stone crabs just as fresh at several other Miami seafood spots and better Key Lime Pie at upscale Seafood places especially in Ft. Lauderdale. Don't go to the 15th st fisheries restaurant (I think that's what it's called in Ft. Lauderdale a famous absolutely vile dump).Joe's is for the rich status Miami Beach Crowd that is into the scene and for tourists who just don't know any better. Billy's Stone Crabs in Hollywood is fine and alot cheaper and they have a busy turnover, stay away from Monty Trainers in Coconut Grove-those are not Florida stone crabs. Chrysanthemum in Miami Beach on Washington ave serves beautiful gourmet chinese food, mellow atmosphere. The food at the Astor Hotel was excellent. The blue door which is at the Delano that you mentioned is very good, but yes very overpriced, extremely trendy, and very pretentious...also pretty limited menu but if you like that kind of should be a nice experience....Are you going to venture outside of Miami Beach? Grillfish is a simple, hip seafood place on Collins Ave in South Beach...great fresh grilled fish very good clams or shrimp over pasta. If you venture out to other areas, Soyka is great...Coconut Grove restaurants have really gone downhill. Jeffrey's off lincoln road is very good. Stay away from all restaurants on Ocean Drive, only tourists and people who don't care about food, and who only want to be seen eat there. Locals do not. There are so many great restuarants in Miami but they are scattered around. Don't miss Pollo Tropical (fast food cuban), go to the one on Alton Road, it's great. If you have specific other questions, just post them and I'll check back and try to answer them.. Miami is really will have a blast!

    5 Replies
    1. re: Steve
      Everett Brown

      I notice you didn't mention the Forge on Arthur Godfrey Road. Has it slipped? I havent been there in some years.

      1. re: Everett Brown

        Went to the Forge many years ago in its prime, and then it slipped for a bit, and then it got really good again in the late 80's and early 90's, and then they had a fire I believe in the mid 90's, and then it was completely changed...raised their prices even more, less portions, and completely changed their menu...all their classic dishes were gone...Haven't heard anything great about the place since that happened.

      2. re: Steve

        The previous poster mentioned that Joe's Stone Crab changed ownership. That is not true; the restaurant is still in the original Weiss family that founded the restaurant in 1904. Joe's is an experience, and the same high-quality stone crabs can be found at a number of restaurants.

        Another poster mentioned Norman's in Coral Gables, probably the best upscale restaurant in the area. If you want to stay in Miami Beach, go to the Astor Hotel, where Norman is executive chef.

        1. re: Steve
          Rachel Perlow

          "Joe's is for the rich status Miami Beach Crowd that is into the scene and for tourists who just don't know any better. Billy's Stone Crabs in Hollywood is fine and alot cheaper and they have a busy turnover"

          We went to Billy's on 12/27/99. Although reports of bad Stone Crab season (due to hurricanes), made us leary, they had plenty ... for a price ($72.95 PP all you can eat for the large size, med was around $55, jumbo ~$90). We had eaten at Rustic Inn Crabhouse (a mandatory destination whenever in the area) the day before and had the stone crab there (only med was available), the next day Jason NEEEDED more, so we went to Billy's on our way back to Ft. L from the Miami Seaquarium. (See link below for post on the Cuban sandwiches we had for lunch.)

          We definitely got our fill of Stone Crabs, but I think the All-You-Can-Eat will be a one time thing, we definitely got them out of our system for a while! They also offer the stone crabs as a single plate dinner. The only side dish we ordered was the garlic creamed spinach - worth it!

          At Rustic Inn, I recommend the garlic crabs. They come in two sizes, the blue crabs and golden crabs (much larger). I think the blue crabs are a little tastier, but the goldens are easier to eat - your choice. FYI, the Key Lime Pie at Rustic Inn is great.

          Another place to get Key Lime Pie is at Gibby's Steak and Seafood. That's all we ate there. After an good, but not worth mentioning Italian meal on our last night, we wanted KLP for dessert, but none to be had at the Italian place. The waiter recommended Gibby's so we stopped and got a couple slices to go. The restaurant looks like a very nice place to go (especially with the folks) and the key lime part of the pie was terrific, although it was topped with the kind of whipped cream that doesn't dissolve!


          Billy's Stone Crab and Seafood Restaurant
          400 N. Ocean Drive (also known as A1A, on the west side)
          Hollywood, FL 33020
          954-923-2300, 800-4FL-CRAB

          (you can mail order stone crabs from them!
          Rustic Inn Crabhouse
          4331 Ravenswood Road
          Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312

          (you can mail order anything from them, too
          Gibby's is located off Oakland Park Blvd, just east of Dixie Hwy, either Ft. L or Oakland Park.


          1. re: Rachel Perlow

            many thanks for the rustic inn web referral, i'm from hollywood and their garlic crabs are my fav. food. Now living Portland, Oregon, i've had to carry them on airplanes much to the displeasure of copassengers, but no more. Now if I can only get wings-n-curls to ship as well.

        2. Norman's in Coral gables...a gourmet delight.

          1. I just got back from M. Beach (long weekend/business trip). We stayed at the Delano, home of the Blue Door. I only ate breakfast there, which happened to be great! For dinner (which looked good), the place is quite the scene, especially Friday night (I think that's when you said you would be eating there). Definitely not a quiet, romantic spot, but if you want to be seen and see (Hef and a bevy of 19 year olds were frolicing about), this is THE place. It's a wild hotel and worth checking out either way (check out the elevators and the pool area!).

            1. The best conch fritters are found at Chef Creole in Miami.