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Few days in South Beach

It's been a few years since I've been..and have some old favorites..but would like some new ideas too. No car..can cab or walk; but want to stay fairly close to where we're staying on Ocean and 5th. Want to mix up high end and ethnic.

Here's my currrent list.


China Grill

Chalan on the Beach

Puerta Sagua

Dave's Cafe

Sushi Samba..never been but have read positive reports here.

Tap Tap..never been.

Taverna Opa? like it but was just at FLL branch

Any additions or deletions?


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  1. The Ice Box cafe is excellent and reasonably priced, and also supposedly has one of the best selections of basked goods ever. I didn't try the sweets but a friend did. Can't remember the exact location but is located on the pedestrian mall area (Lincoln Road).

    1 Reply
    1. re: kayonyc

      Ice Box desserts are really good but not the "Best Ever" by any means. That said, the Bananna bread pudding is awesome and the best thing they serve, followed by the german chocolate cake.

    2. Nobu is great, I like China Grill but some folks don't, never done Chalan, Puerto Sagua and David's are servicable Cuban, Sushi Samba is good but very pricey. Haven't been to Tap Tap in ages but I have a friend who goes every time he's in town. Haven't been to Opa but seems people go more for the scene than the food. I like going to Ice Box for brunch but am usually disappointed with the dinners.

      My favorite high end on the beach is Talula around 23rd and Collins. Husband and wife chef team, a little more laid back than much of South Beach, but they take the food seriously. My favorites include the tuna tartare, the shrimp tamale, soups are always excellent, steak is great, and when they have the venison it's my favorite.

      Mr. Chu's at 8th & Ocean does very nice dim sum for lunch and the regular Chinese is also quite good.

      I have heard that Johnny Vincenz has reopened at the Astor. He's one of my favorite local chefs (was there several years ago, then moved up to open in Ft Lauderdale, is now reopening down here again) and if it's open I'd definitely try it. Imagine Bobby Flay if his influence was Latin America instead of Southwest.

      Le Bon on Lincoln Road does good Belgian (esp. mussels & frites) and has a great selection of Belgian beers. Do the steamed mussel pots, not the broiled platters (I had the latter and they were overhwelmingly cheesy and made no sense to me).

      There are several new high-end places you haven't listed but I haven't tried many:
      Vix - (Hotel Victor on Ocean) - been there, "Vix" apparently stands for "Very Expensive". The menu sounds great but the execution was disappointing. Wouldn't go back.
      8 1/2 - in the Clinton Hotel on Washington (haven't tried
      Fifty - 4th & Ocean (haven't tried
      The Standard Hotel - old Lido Hotel on Venetian Causeway (haven't tried) - Menu by Eric Ripert, simple Mediterranean
      Sardinia - (Purdy Ave) - have heard good things but haven't been.

      1. Thanks...Nemo is another place I've enjoyed.

        We liked Talula but didn't love it.

        I was a fan of Johnny Vincenz at the Astor some time back.

        Funny side note..I notice you responded recently to a post on South Beach I made in 2001. You have good taste..:)

        The "other Boston poster" on that thread and I have become good friends.

        1. Here is what I would add
          Prime 112 - Ignore the steak and the fondue, get the rest of the food one of the best restaurants on the beach if you follow what I say.

          Tuscan Steak

          Mr Chu - especially lunch.

          Social - depending if sceney is a huge positve (must go then on friday or saturday) must avoid if not. Despite what some people say here, social has some very good dishes and you can get away with a very good meal here. Do not get desserts here.

          Le Bon - Go only during the happy hour special (5:30-7:30) when it is a downright bargain. Otherwise Frodnesor's comments are dead on.

          A La Folie

          Blue Door is very good buy there is a good chance you have been...

          Marks, very good but have not been in a while.

          Sardinia - I really like this place, but you should go for lunch. Dinners are too crowded now and they don't take reservations.

          Joes Stone Crab - Go if you have never been. My guess is you have...

          Nemo and Talula which you have already commented on...

          Places to nix...
          I would probably nix Sushi Samba. Though I like it, SS is really an inferior version of nobu, though the food is not exactly the same.

          There are a bunch of new places I have not tried yet but will very soon.
          Johnny V
          Table 8
          The Setai - Not new, but I am hearing rumblings that it is greatly improved so I now have to try it...

          Btw if you finalize your list, I can offer up dishes at many of the places you choos.

          1. Here are the finalists..:) Rather than 4 sit down dinners, we're going to do more of a grazing approach..have a drink..app or 2 at several places.

            Astor Place..Vincenz took over last week

            Evolution...got to at least see it

            Nobu...sucker for their creamy crab dish and black cod

            Blue Door...been but will skip this trip..have a drink at the bar

            Nemo..like but will skip..their menu is virtually identical to what it was when they first opened.

            Joe's..been but can't go to miami without a stop

            Sushi Samba..out

            China Grill..when done right which is most of the time; I really like their Szechuan Beef..blatant knockoff of a dish at Chinois on Main..but so is the whole restaurant and I don't care..:)

            Considering Sardinia..sounds great but we're not up to dealing with crowds..try it next trip when it cools off. Was turned off by Prime 112 for same reason. I didn't eat there; could barely find a place to stand there..:)

            Chalan, Puerta Sagua, Dave's in. We have 1 good Peruvian restaurant in Boston..and not much in the way of Cuban.

            No Chinese (cept China Grill)..too much good stuff home.

            We don't do the late night thing anymore; but it will be a great treat to wander around a beautiful and warm city..not bundled up for a few days and nights..though we've had a very mild winter.

            Thx for the ideas and will report back.

            1. Add these to your list for consideration:

              Osteria del Teatro = excellent Northern Italian

              Lario's on the Beach = solid Cuban cuisine replete with an ocean drive street scene.

              Joe Allen = comfort food

              Pacific Time = Nouveau Cuisine on Lincoln Rd (the best on the pedestrian mall)

              Alta Mar = serious seafood also on Lincoln just west of the pedestrian mall.

              If you really want great Peruvian food you've got to get off the beach...try Salmon Salmon or Francesco's.

              Should you make it to Coconut Grove, go to Jaguar.

              2 Replies
              1. re: netmover

                I've been a fan of Lario's but haven't been lately. Ms 9 is not as "food obsessive" as me and if it's a nice day; she'd rather have lunch outside at Lario's than David's Cafe..

                Heard a lot of good things about Alta Mar..want to try it.

                I used to be a big fan of Pacific Time; but had a few soso meals over a few trips and scratched it. Has it improved?

                To go back to Talula, I was probably overly harsh in my other post. It was very good food..hanger steak done perfectly and yellowtail snapper. If I lived in Miami, I'd probably go regularly. I was a fan of the owners when they were at Wish. As an infrequent visitor, I like a little more "scene" or ethnic on my too infrequent visits.

                I've only got 5 days this trip; can't go everywhere..:)

                Thanks again for all the good ideas. If you're ever in Boston, I promise you'll eat well..:)

                1. re: netmover

                  Osteria, Joe Allen, Alta Mar are great choices. I must be getting senile.

                2. If you've been before, Pacific Time experience is much like Nemo - good, but the menu hasn't been changed in a decade. I recommend these places for first time visitors but almost never go myself b/c there's never anything new and there's nothing so great that I "have" to go back for.

                  Joe Allen is OK but not a place I'd go out of my way for or skip any of the places on your hit list.

                  Talula is a lot more laid back and less scene-y than other SoBe places (which is probably why it's one of my regular places).

                  1. Sardinia is one of the better restaurants to emerge in Miami in a while... but the kitchen hasn't figured out how to deal with the surge crowds... one night, late, had a minestrone that was appetizing as boiled vegetables in water. But last night, before the crowds hit, had a wonderful Sardinian couscous in clam broth with dark and textured seasonings... get there early is the lesson.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: miamiquery

                      Agreed, the food and service get a lot better when you go @ 4 in the afternoon on a weekday :).

                    2. went to sardinia at 7 wednesday night- place still 90% empty. service was okay- food runners and bussers on top of it, waitress was okay. for example, wine menu not given with regular menus, and though we asked a couple times for it, didn't come until appetizers arrived- not okay with us.

                      osso buco was good, but all other pasta dishes just okay. place filled up very quickly- people waiting for a table by 7:45

                      overall, very reasonably priced and pretty good food, just not wowed.

                      although on a separate note-- just had joe's take out tonight and found it exceptional. jumbo and cocktail shrimp, large and select stone crabs, hash brown, key lime pie (YUM!) i don't think we will go anywhere else for stone crabs again. had garcias last week, and found joe's superior. and not just because Giada went there!!!!

                      1. The lobster and orichette pastas are standouts here but the lobster pasta you have to deshell yourself so it is kind of high maintenance.

                        I like their suckling pig and seabass (which has bones so is also high maintenance). Their sweetbreads, when seasoned correctly are very good too (when they are busy they tend to under season them and you cant get pepper to compensate because they are so busy). Their pasta soup is very good too and is a bargain.

                        I agree about Joes Takeout btw, I always forget to recommend it for lunch...
                        As far as ossobuco goes, I like it served with risotto better so I agree with you. I just had one at Joe Allens by the way which was very very good.

                        1. I'd have to scratch Joe Allen's off the list also. Last time we ate there we were very disappointed. Will be down in late February. Looking forward to hitting Talula (missed it last time). I would love to do dim sum at Mr. Chu's but my wife does not like Chinese and doing dim sum for one seems rather pointless. Le Bon is also on my list (missed that last time too, but this time we will be down for 5 days instead of 4). Also, I have to ask, what is this love affair w/Osteria del Teatro? After hearing all the buzz we finally ate there and it was just ok, didn't knock my (or my wife's) socks off. I can think of a dozen places here in Philly that knock it on its a**. I realize with some places it's all about what you order. What is your favorite dish there?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Rondo

                            What a surprise, better Italian food in Philly then in Miami Beach. The question should be, who has the best Italian food im Miami Beach? I will also be there in February and I Have O.T. on my list so I can't wait to here about what to order.

                            1. re: stuartlafonda

                              The best gnocchi gorgonzola in the world is at Rosinellas near the Lincoln Theater on Lincoln Road. The rest depends on what you like in Italian food

                              1. re: foreverfood

                                Wrong, tuscan steakhous is better.

                          2. Osteria Del Teatro is the best italian on miami beach.

                            I generally order:
                            Spinach crepes app
                            Osso Buco
                            Asparagus with cheese

                            In general, their specials menu is superior to their regular menu.

                            When I went recently, I had a lobster pasta special which was outstanding. This was the single best dish I ever had there.

                            Funny you did not like joe allens. I have eaten there over a hundered times and I never remembered having a bad meal there...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: tpigeon

                              The sad thing is that we had eaten at Joe Allens on two other occasions and it was very good. We liked the bar and the no nonsense attitude of the place. It was a nice break from the "trendy"/"touristy" places. Unfortunately, when you are a tourist you try to make the most of the limited time you are spending in Miami. Do we really want to go back to a place that disappointed us when we only have 4 nights and dozens of other places to try? I think not. If I lived in Miami would I feel the same way? Probably not - I'd give both another shot. If we begin to make more than two trips a year to Miami (been doing two trips per year for at least 5 years now)would I reconsider J.A. and ODT? Most likely. Sorry if this sounds elitist or snobby. Some of you may think my logic is twisted but that's the way it is. I take eating very seriously, especially in a vacation spot where you can easily rack up a daily food bill of $150 to $200/couple. Make that $300 if you do dinner at BartonG or Prime 112. Before we came down the last time, I asked people on this board for their recommendations. By and large their recs were very good. Special thanks go to Frodnesor, who had some very good suggestions which panned out quite nicely. Oh, and if you like empanadas, you all definitely have to check out Dave's II, just off Lincoln. Incredible and very, very reasonably priced.

                            2. Rondo, glad you liked the recommendations. You mention Barton G - we went there with a group several weeks ago and I'd never go back. The food was servicable at best, the presentations are "cute" but silly and certainly do nothing to enhance the food (and often render it quite difficult to eat). I was very disappointed that they refused to let us bring our own wine for a special occasion dinner even though I offered to pay reasonable corkage AND buy some from their list as well. And believe me, their wine list is hardly so encyclopedic (or even qualitatively great) that they could think they really have all needs fulfilled. This place had a moment of greatness back when it was Starfish and Kerry Simon was the chef. Barton G is al shtick no substance.

                              Also funny you should mention Osteria del Teatro. I'm born and bred in South Florida and have lived in Miami Beach for more than a dozen years, and still have never been! It's partly because we rarely go out for Italian - esp. pasta - for a high-end meal, but still sort of odd. I've heard they do a very good osso buco w/ risotto milanese; one of my favorites, I suppose we'll have to try it.

                              1. Tantra- its one of those that turns in to a nightclub but the food is great. The thoery is it tempts all of your senses- grass floor in the main entryway, mood music, gentle lighting, fabulous food, and savory smells- (there's also some big screen tvs with what I can only describe as very soft porn/ soap opera type love scenes- not my favorite part but it fits)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jme1beachbum

                                  In Bizarro World you are correct. On Earth, where Superman is the good guy, Tantra is a triple threat of bad, overpriced and obnoxious.

                                2. Fro>

                                  Osteria is serving a $20 after 10pm menu now. Not sure what that means in terms of trolling for late diners. If you're out and about (perhaps after a show or a movie) this could be an inexpensive way to see what (if anything) the fuss is about...


                                  1. That's an interesting marketing approach to try to turn another seating. Good luck parking on the beach at that hour though!

                                    1. I just got back from a long weekend in South Beach and am dutifully reporting back on my dining experiences...

                                      Sushi Samba: I liked it a lot. The spicy Brazilian flavors really mix in well with the maki - a particular favorite was the "Neo Tokyo" roll. Obviously sushi purists maybe not enjoy it, but for me it was a really memorable meal.

                                      Tapas y Tintos: A bit hit-and-miss, but then again most tapas places are like that. Very strong classic tapas dishes like Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, not too much experimentation. Some of the dishes didn't click with me but I would go back.

                                      Lario's on the Beach: Meh. Certainly not as good food-wise compared to Puerto Sagua. We went there for the ambiance, and it delivered on that front, with a live salsa band - ended up dancing between courses. A very fun meal, but the food disappointed.

                                      Tap Tap: A real gem, although the food is not mindblowing. Just solid, uncomplicated, and affordable fare, in a fantastic ambiance that feels worlds away from South Beach. And the best mojitos I had during the weekend. I would absolutely go back.

                                      Sandwicherie: I had a quick breakfast takeout from this spot, quite good although the baguette could be better. The fresh mozzarella was a bit bland compared to, say, Busy Corner in Brooklyn, but whatcha gonna do? Still a tasty sandwich at a good price.

                                      Icebox Cafe: We had brunch here, food was terrific, service...eh, not so much. We were ignored for a long stretch of time and had to flag our server down to get the bill and get out of there. But the "Crabby Eggs" made it all worthwhile...

                                      Jerry's Famous Deli: A good place to go if you don't want to eat again for a while, monster sandwiches. My Reuben was pretty good, her Tuna Melt less so. Cold fries. Ah well - love the interior of that place, timewarp to Beverly Hills 1956.

                                      I think that's about it, still a ton of places I would have liked to have gone to, next time I suppose. All in all, a great weekend.