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May 15, 2006 11:40 AM

South Florida Best Dining

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Just moved here from NYC and have been disappointed many times. Trying to find a restaurant that rivals NYC. Don't want a chain (Nobu, Prime) but something that not only uses local flavors but experiments as well (think of NYC WD-50) Aldo is you could only go to one resturant in South Florida where would it be. Looking but haven't found that GREAT restaurant. Many good ones but nothing GREAT yet


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  1. Never ate @ WD-50 and the food in miami is not going to be as good as NYC in general.

    If by Prime you are referring to Prime 112, that is not a chain. The other restaruants run by the company are different concepts with very little overlap. The only two things I know of which are the same are the shrimp cocktails at Prime and Nemo.

    Ok, that all being said. Here are some creative (some moreso than others) that have cuisine that is not found easily up north...

    Chef Allens- Aventura - Floribbean - Have not been in a long time but it is still probably very good.

    Normans - Coral Gables - Floribbean - Maybe closed now as I heard in December it was closing - Very good.

    Ortanique technically a chain (DC & Vegas) - Very good, their signature snapper is excellent. Carribean. One of my favorites here.

    Caccao - Nuevo Latin -good, many people like this place more than I do. Great to go if you are a chocoholic...

    Marks (2 Locations) - There are some rumors of slippage - Last I went (the one in sobe) it was very good. Floribbean. The other is in Ft. Lauderdale and is the original.

    Mishy's -eclectic- Very good but the dishes are uneven - some being much better than others. You must try the baked alaska here for dessert, it is excellent.

    The above restaurants are all considered creative cusisne here.

    My favorite two places are:
    Romeo's Cafe - Italian, but no menu, the chef asks you what your food preferences are and makes you a six course meal based on your preferences. If you don't like a dish you can send it back. Highly recommended and though it does not quite reach the heights of babbo, it is really really good.

    Francesco's- Peruvian - My favorite restaurant in miami. Not nearly as expensive as any of the above restaruants and not as "creative" but it is better :). The ceviche and the squid ink risotto (especially this dish) are awesome dishes that can compete with anyone. I have only been there once just recently for lunch and unfortunately was not able to do dessert. This place is mid priced to boot making it an awesome bargain.

    As an aside I highly recommend the River Oyster Bar for "regular" seafood. I have heard the tides is great but my guess is this place can at least match it (this is probably my third favorite restaurant).

    3 Replies
    1. re: T. Pigeon

      There's not much experimenting in Miami anymore. The only thing comparable to a WD-50 would've been the only U.S. branch of La Broche (which would've competed with any NYC restaurant for that matter) but it closed a few years ago. Now Mosaico does some of the foamy/sorbet/food-on-a-stick concoctions, but it's not stellar (but not bad either). What you're looking for may come soon. A place called Karu&Y will be opening north of downtown and I think it'll be more of what you're looking for.

      In the meantime, don't go around with the mentality of "I had this in New York and I can't find it here so this place must suck" because you'll go insane and be miserable here. Focus on what we do have here that (gasp!) may not exist in NYC.

      1. re: lax2mia

        Thanks for the info. I don't mean to compare NYC to Fl since it's not going to compare just looking for something special and not the same old crap. As for the pizza, and chinese. Pizza is ok Chinese food in Florida SUCKS. I had the place on Bird road (forgetting name) and another on US 1 both have made me swear off Chinese food.

        I read that Chef Allens has gone down hill lately. I was reading a posting somewhere that about 2 months ago something happened which made the rest suffer and every post I've read has been negative since then.

        Norman's is good I guess I was expecting a lot more.

        I really need to try Romeo's have heard great things. As for Babbo in NYC. Great place try Mario's new place Del Posto. Worth the rate and the expense. Taking Italian cooking to the French level.

        Agaiun thank's for the help and if you need anything for NYC let me know

      2. re: T. Pigeon

        I'll second River Oyster, went there again on Saturday night and had a great meal - pretty decent cheese course too with HUGE helpings of 3 cheeses for $16.

        The mixed grill is a standout, especially the trio of sauces - the kimchi sauce particularly is fantastic.

        With your oysters, ask then for some coarsely ground salt and sprinkle it on the oyster with your lemon or minotte "sauce" - great flavor enhancer.

      3. Not sure where you are in South Florida

        Ft Lauderdale
        Johnny V's for lunch or dinner. Their lunch menu is very good and reasonably priced.

        Ocean 3030- Great chef (Dean Max)Seafood based

        Serafina- French italian

        Miami Beach
        AltaMar- Best on sobe

        2 Replies
        1. re: sobe

          Oops I forgot about Talula.

          Talula is very good and is on the Florribean creative side. Though as lax said what we consider creative is not as creative as what I have heard about WD-50 and the Fatty Crab which is why I put creative in quotes in my original post.

          Alta Mar is very good too but is more of a great fish place with some interesting sauces.

          What is funny is when I go back to ny I tend to go to the better restaurants more often than when I lived there.

          The things I miss most foodwise are the great every day foods like chinese, deli and pizza. Miami comes closest with the pizza. I say that because they are miles away with the other two.

          1. re: T. Pigeon

            I mean I meant to put creative in quotes in my original post :).

        2. OLA on Ocean-fits your request. As a matter of fact Chef Dougie Rodriguez had quite a run in NYC with a few highly acclaimed restaurants. He takes local and Latin food to new levels.

          As for your Deli request, well there is no KATZ here, but Roasters and Toasters in Kendall does a nice job. Their EXTRA lean Pastrami is very good and is brought down from Albany, NY. No hand carvers here!

          I've heard Tony Chan's Water Club at the Grand is good Chinese. Jumbo on 163rd St. is pretty authentic and may cure your craving for Chinese. They do dim sum and the place was full of Asians last time I went.

          I was having lunch at Noodles and Paninis today on Las Olas, great meatballs btw, and the barkeep from Brooklyn swears by Anthony's Coal Fired Pizzas. They are on US1 between Griffen and SR84. New store to open in Aventura soon, if not already.

          I definately agree with one of the other posters, focus on what's here in SOFLA and not in NYC and you'll have the best of both worlds. We are the capital of the Americas, NYC is the capital of the World! Here the comfort food is definately Latin, not Italian, Deli and Chinese.

          Try Jaguar in the Grove for ceviche, Mexy and Beef or Salmon Salmon for some whack Peruvian cuisine on NW7th St.

          1 Reply
          1. re: netmover

            I LOVE Noodles & Panini. I like the veggie pasta dishes but everything is good. (And they're known for the giant meatballs.) They're soups are also quite good, especially creamy carrot, and white bean soup when they have them.

          2. Gee, I guess you will have to move back to NY...

            1. Try Michael's Genuine in the Design District, AltaMar in Miami Beach, Michy's on Miami's "Upper East Side," or IceBox just off Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. All of these will give you a piece of what you seek. And Francesco's (mentioned below) is an excellent place. I would also recommend "Ideas" in the Grove, which is a Spanish cuisine-focused version of what you seek.

              1 Reply
              1. re: YonaShyml

                I was kind of thinking along the same lines.....probably best to stay in warm and toasty NY since things are so sucky down here! That means less waiting time at the few really good restaurants that we poor, down-trodded South Floridians are lucky to have!!

                Looks like another warm front headed to NuhYahk.