Good Eats near Baptist Hospital of Miami
I'll be visiting Miami in February and am taking a conference at Baptist Hospital of Miami.
I'm not familiar with the area at all and am really not sure where this is. However, I am looking for interesting, unique to Miami, places to eat out at for lunch and dinner. I know this is a very vague question. I'm from NYC and would like to try something that is not very good hear or special to Miami.
Ah, this is in Kendall, where I grew up. You're not terribly close to the trendy, swanky parts of Miami with really fine dining, and traffic around there (North Kendall Drive) is absolutely horrendous during rush hour. Kendall is kind of a soulless suburban dead zone that lacks a lot of character, but on the up-side, it's probably safer than other parts of the city. Are you staying near the hospital? Will you have a car?
My favorite Cuban restaurant in the area is La Carreta, and I definitely recommend you get some Cuban food while visiting Miami. The better La Carreta location is on Bird Road (SW 40th Street) and Galloway Road (SW 87th Avenue). From Kendall Drive, you'd take Galloway Road north to Bird (anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour, depending on time of day) and you can't miss it. Another La Carreta location is on Kendall Drive and SW 117th Avenue, so you'd just get on Kendall and take it west. Even though it's probably a little bit further, I say go to the Bird Road one; it has always been better.
You're also right by Norman Brothers, which is a gourmet food store and produce market that can be great for quick lunches or snacks to bring back to your hotel room. Everything there is awesome, from frozen yogurt shakes to baked goods and everything in between.
Beyond that, if you take Kendall Drive east to US1 (a MAJOR road that also gets ridiculously crowded) and then take it north, you can reach areas like South Miami, Coral Gables, and Coconut Grove, which are all known for nicer -- or at least more interesting restaurants (and more expensive, too). What types of food will you be in the mood for, and what kind of budget are you looking at? What do you have all the time in NYC that you know is awesome, so you definitely won't want to bother with it in Miami? (Chances are you don't need to mess with pizza or Italian down there.) Narrowing your options down will help us advise you further.
Go west on Kendall Drive from the hospital and drive a touch under three miles until you see a strip plaza on the north side of the street that has a pollo tropical in front of it. In the plaza is Barillo Latino. Very good Latin food of all kinds from cuban to Argentinean. Dh loves the grilled snapper and I adore the entrana (churrasco or skirt steak).
If you go just a bit further on Kendall drive you can go north on 117th to Bird rd. On the corner of Bird and 117th is Nunzios which is IMHO the best home style italian in Miami (my grandparents were from Italy and I grew up eating gravy every Sunday, but you're from NYC so this may not be what you are used to).
Back to Kendall Drive if you continue west past 117th you will find a strip plaza a couple miles down on the south side of the street (12584 SW 88TH St, not sure the name of the plaza, but it has a latin cafeteria and a drugstore in front of the plaza) with Bangkok Bangkok Thai restaurant. They do a whole fried Thai snapper which is incredible!
I agree with pp on Norman Brothers (not on Kendall being a "a soulless suburban dead zone") . It is an excellent farmer’s market/specialty market and it well worth the trip for the hot food and shakes. To get there you leave the hospital and go east on 88th to 87th ave. Go about a mile north on 87 until you see NB on the east side of the street.
Also leaving the hospital to the east you will find a barnes and noble. Pass the barnes and noble and take the right immediately following the plaza. Follow that less than a mile to the crab shack (I believe is the name). It is in a strip plaza on the west side of the street. You will get a hammer and some garlic crabs that are excellent. Don't skip the clam chowder. It is so rich and creamy. Definitely worth the trip.
Some other possibilities if you take 88th to us1 south, you will find Anacapri (gourmet, high end italian, excellent), Sea Siam (moderately priced, very good Thai and sushi), Tani Thai (inexpensive Thai, also very good). If you are up for a longer trip and an adventure, head down south on us1 to Puerto Vallarta (24811 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead, FL, cheap mexican, voted best seafood in miami by a local magazine, try the ceviche). Also south on us1 from Kendall you will find great seafood and an incredible wine list (named one of the best in the US annually by Wine Spectator Mag) at Captain's Tavern.
Kendall Drive to us1 north and you will find Two Chefs. Gourmet, somewhat pricey and excellent!
Good luck! Let us know what you try and how you like it!
I'm also from the area and have some different opinions. I think Norman Brothers is exorbitant and not even worth a visit. There are lots of mom and pop places everywhere to the west on Kendall, with Caribbean and South American places everywhere. If you want some simple, typical South Florida places, try Ankarr on Kendall and 97th Avenue. It appears quite nondescript but has delicious pastries and tapas in a really simple pleasant afternoon kind of vibe. The sweets, empanadas, and coffee are quite local. East of Baptist is a pleasant Argentinian place in the Barnes and Noble plaza called Rincon Argentina which also has a distinctive Miami feeling. For more classic Italian, though I agree that Nunzio's is great, Trattoria Luna just south of Kendall across from Shorty's Barbecue on US1 is in a shopping plaza with Vietnamese, Spanish, a deli, Japanese, and a sports bar. It's closer to Baptist. The Captain's Tavern is one more minute south. North on US 1 is South Miami, with Trattoria del Sol, Pizzeria Blu, and Casa Larios which is really popular with middle class Cubans, serving all the classics in a nice atmosphere for inexpensive prices. Town is nearby as well. It's a nice area to walk around in. If you want more specifics, just ask.
You guys have inspired me to be more positive (even though I still have my own problems and issues with the area, having grown up and spent way too much time there.) Despite my lifelong wishes to be a hardcore Chowhound, my family always returned to the same places and dared not try anything too "exotic": Anthony's Pizza on Kendall until it closed, and then Big Cheese on US1 for their Italian fix, Shorty's, a handful of storefront Chinese takeout places, La Carreta, Arbetter's for hot dogs, Fuddrucker's on US1 and SW 104th St for the best burgers around. But mentioning Caribbean, Thai, Indian, or even sushi in my house was verboten. I'm making up for lost time, very far from Kendall.
Rincon Argentina IS very good. Went there once, and I was very impressed with the steak and mixed grill I had.
Shorty's BBQ itself is a local landmark and institution -- not the best BBQ I've ever had, but probably the best in the area (unless you prefer The Pit, which is far, or places in Broward County, which are way too far to even bother naming).
re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou
It sounds like most of the places you were taken to still exist. As a result, you ate at some institutions. In addition, the ethnic places here are pretty tasty these days. However, as you know, Kendall is not paradise. It was planned greedily. Nearly all the beauty is east of US1, but none of the food!
Thanks to everybody for the suggestions.
I'm really looking for any type of food that is typical of Miami....south american/latin influences sound really good. I can get good Italian and Thai here in NYC. I want something different than I can't get here.
I will be staying at the Amerisuites on Kendall Drive I believe but my conference will be at Baptist Hospital. I won't be having a car so was hoping for places that won't be too far, not too expensive to take a cab too, or accessible via bus.
I learned that there is a bus along Kendall Drive so am happy to take that for some good eats.
Based upon this information, any other suggestions? Especially considering the lack of car dilemma?
Your hotel is within walking distance of a few places where you can get satisfied. In the Town and Country Center which is adjacent to your hotel, there are a few choices. I recommend Sergio's at the far end. It is cheap, friendly, and you can eat typical Cuban specialties. La Carreta is also on Kendall with a great coffee window. Moreover, there are places nearby like Ankarr which are definitively Miami.