Recommendations for Restaurants in Miami
(1) If you can avoid it, don't stay at the Hyatt Regency downtown. You don't want to be downtown, esp. at night.
(2) Right over the Brickell Bridge from the Hyatt, the Brickell area has a number of good options, all centered on Brickell Avenue or Miami Avenue which runs parallel:
Duo - "New American" I have not been but have heard great things.
River Oyster Bar - also haven't been but has been recommended to me by several people.
Tobacco Road - next door to River Oyster Bar, primarily a blues bar (and a good one), but the burgers and other stuff is passable.
Rosinella - pretty good, simple Italian.
Perricones - decent sandwiches, salads, Italian. I like it more for the place (an old converted barn moved from somewhere in the northeast) than the food.
Along Brickell Ave. there are a couple good (chain) steakhouses, Capital Grille and Morton's. There's also a brazilian rodizio called Porcao in a building just east of Brickell Ave. if you want your meat on large metal skewers.
On Brickell Key in the Mandarin Hotel there's a place called Azul, and a more casual restaurant, Sambal (which has a pan-asian bent). Azul used to be very good when Michelle Bernstein was the chef, but she's gone and I haven't been back.
Apparently the building where Miss Saigon is located is going to be turn down (to build guess what) and I believe the location is already closed. If you're at the Hyatt you'll probably have to cab it as most of the restaurants recommended are over the Brickell Ave. bridge.
River is my top pick for both lunch and dinner. Novecento is casual Argentine which most out of towners I've taken there seem to like.
I find I like most foods when well prepared. And I'm adventurous enough to try many things.
Thanks everyone for your recommendations. I managed to find a place to stay (through an acquaintance) on the east side of the Venetian Way bridge--very nice with water view. I can't wait to get back and try out more restaurants, since my approach ended up relatively haphazard and I found myself at different venues.
I ended up my first night at La Carreta in Little Havana--authentic Cuban as far as I could tell and quite tasty, particularly the ham croquettes. This was the first time I had yuca and I loved it!
The next night I went to Gloria Estefan's club, Bongos (behind the American Airlines stadium). The buffet there was also Cuban and quite flavorful, though I thought La Carreta better. The flan was the densest and creamiest I have ever had (and I've had a lot). Like butter!
I had a fine vegetarian panini at the Riverfront Cafe in the Intercontinental hotel. They also had very tasty fries. A bit pricey, like all hotels.
I also ended up at Tony Chan's Water Club one evening, trying the shrimp and cashews, a lamb (!) dish, and several other protein-based entrees (tofu, beef, pork). Each dish rivaled the best Chinese food I ever ate in Los Angeles' Chinatown or elsewhere.
And I topped everything off by eating in real neighborhood place--Antigua Guatemala--near the airport. Very humble surroundings, but quite good food, including another dish I have never eaten--pacaya (edible palm flowers). I also had one of their jugos naturales--I recommend the passionfruit (maracuyá ). This was the most reasonably priced meal of the trip.
Thanks again, hounds!