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Jan 25, 2007 12:32 PM

Hungry Detective in Miami

Did anyone happen to catch this on Food Network? He did:

Arnie & Richie's
Canela Cafe
Sango Jamaican/Chinese
Islas Canarias

Setting aside for a moment comments on the show itself (I for one am really concerned the guy is going to explode at any moment; it seems like every episode ought to end with him sleuthing out the nearest coronary care center) , I'm curious what everyone thinks about the places he "found". My thoughts:

Garcia's - very nice call, but then he completely screwed it up by getting lobster thermador (???) instead of the fish sandwich. It's the best fish sandwich in town! Ignore the allure of bubbling cheesy topping and get the fish sandwich!

Arnie & Richie's - they actually made this place look much better than I've ever actually seen it. The breakfast sandwich looked great, in a decadent, heart-clogging way: challah french toast around an egg ham & cheese sandwich. I had no idea they had such a thing (of course I've never asked for a menu there). Their latkes are pretty good too. But if you're going to Arnie & Richie's, you ought to mention that they have the best tuna on the planet (except possibly Epicure).

Canela Cafe - I'm charmed by this place and was glad to see them getting the publicity. Dishes were interesting - queso blanco w/ guava shells, serrano ham wrapped around plantains & cheese (do you notice a cheese theme to the selections?), fried garbanzos. I've only been to this place once, and ought to go back.

Sango Jamaican/Chinese - never heard of this place (down in Kendall, I think) and can't say seeing their version of sweet & sour chicken makes me eager to find it.

Islas Canarias - if I were picking a place for a cuban sandwich (and it appears you must if you're doing a food program in South Florida), I'd probably go with Sergio's. I got the impression this was a favor called in by an in-law. Program marks the first time in my life I have ever actually heard a non-gringo call a Media Noche a "Midnight Sandwich" - clearly playing to the national audience!

Overall - I think the first 3 places are probably genuine off-the-beaten-path "finds" for an out-of-towner, although he clearly ordered wrong at Garcia's and missed the tuna at A&R. Don't quite get the other 2. I'd pick Sergio's for a cuban sandwich but I'm sure there's many other good ones.

I frankly have difficulty on Caribbean as well simply because I don't know any of the places and what's good. Would love feedback from other hounds (other than Ortanique and Tap Tap!)

What would be your Miami "food detective" finds? My list would include:
Yakko San
El Carajo
Hy Vong (haven't been in ages)

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  1. not wowed with his choices either- totally agree about garcias; i like the place a lot, but would order the fish sandwich or stone crabs. i do think out-of-towners would consider that a find because its rustic, kind of waterfront, etc.
    the others??? i haven't been to any of the others, but i think the area has more to offer. i can't even believe they wasted our time with the fried sweet and sour chicken! if i just saw that show and had not been to miami, i wouldn't rush to come down- that didn't really do it justice!

    what did you guys think of giadas getaway to south beach?

    1. Arnie & Richie's is a decent Jewish-style deli but no great shakes. Hardly a place where I'd say "you have to try this!" (even to a local, much less a tourist). Canela is a decent, maybe better, place which I'd like to get back to. Haven't been to the others and am not likely to go.

      I am somewhat charmed by Giada and her lollipop head but I thought the Miami show was disappointing. Joe's take-away is good but the real experience is the dining room which looks the same as it did 70 years ago and the waiters who act much the same too. Casa Tua? Haven't been and it seems more hype than substance. Pacific Time? Haven't changed the menu in a decade (although the fried whole yellotail is pretty darn good). I thought the salsa lessons at Yuca were pretty funny.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Frodnesor

        We chose the Lobster based on the clue of finding the Lobster traps and riding the fit the storyline for the show.....Canela is fantastic! I really dont eat all the fact most of it is freezing cold when we eat it as we have to set up cameras, lights etc.....I lost about 15 lbs during the season and lived on power takes about 6 hrs to shoot a single restaurant segment.....and in Miami we were racing tropical storm Ernesto.....which was in full force during the Canela shoot.....

      2. Chris I've got to say I love your show. I just saw the reruns of Alton Brown's on the road show. I originally had seen the first couple of shows but never saw the end. You really made the whole thing.
        I did enjoy the Miami episode but got the impression that you were not really impressed with the Cuban but just being nice to your father in law.
        I hope that we will see much more of you on the food network

        1. Chris -

          Very glad to hear you're not finishing off all that stuff - I worry! Canela is a really charming place and I'm glad they got the publicity - I was happy to see a bunch of cars in the lot this evening as I drove home, probably in response to the show being aired.

          I figured the lobster was a tie-in to the boat scene, but if you ever get back try Garcia's fish sandwich. It really is the best in town.

          Having had the chance to see your take on a city that I can compare from a local's perspective, I think you definitely did well. Curious - where do you get your leads for where to go?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Frodnesor

            Wow, I think here was one lead....Garcia's was eGullet....a few friends and my father in in law...the sanwich was great...I just had to talk on camera....which a I have learned is not an easy thing while you are eating...I would have liked tto have stayed in Miami...but we really raced to beat the fact we shot the show in 3 days instead of 4...If you go to Canela, tell em I said hi and thats the 1st place I am going if I get back.....she posted some nice pics on the canela web site from the get to see the crew, check it out!

            1. re: ccognac

              I see you're getting ragged on for Islas but I for one prefer their Cuban Sandwich over Segios because of the bread. Besides, it gives me an excuse to also order their croquetas which are the best anywhere! I'm talking about the Coral Way location.