HOME > Chowhound > Florida >


Miami Girl turned New Yorker could use some advice!

Haven't been to Miami in almost 2 years--usually go once a year, and grew up there...but have been living in NYC for many years...Need some current advice..will be staying in the Aventura area which is not renowned for their food...will be there for several days...looking for inexpensive to moderate in price...

Have tried in the area:
Pilar--which I liked alot, reasonable, fresh, good portions..

Timo has been recommended but heard it's kinda hit or miss...How is Bissaleh?

Would really like a great seafood recomendation...traditional, and nouvelle...

So far on my list to try is:
Las Culabrinas--the flagler street or Coconut Grove location? Which is better? for cuban..
Tom's Place barbecue--West Palm?--this is probably too far...

What about Havana Harry's--any good?

Can easily travel to South Beach, Miami Beach...Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood--Etc...

Really like Bugatti's in the Gables, and Ragazzi Cafe in Surfside (must have their Ricotta cheesecake when I'm there)

Basically I'm looking for something good that is also a good value...not into trendy places with tiny portions, and pretentions...

Any cusine but not Japanese...Also, is there such a good thing as good Indian food in Miami...the place I read about that moved to North Miami I believe, is very expensive..

Thanks for any help...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm surprised to hear that Timo would be considered hit or miss, but indeed I see a post here that would indicate that. Very surprising to me, as we go quite regularly and I think they do some of the best food in South Florida. I will say that occasional dishes don't come off great - I am a big duck fan and for a long time I really didn't like the way they did their duck - too salty, fatty skin not crispy enough, bouncy texture - but lately they've fixed that too and their duck salad (w/ thin slices of rosy duck breast over slightly wilted spinach on red onions with a mustardy dressing, with a crouton smeared w/ duck liver pate on the side) is one of my all time favorite salads. They're also doing a very nice confit duck leg. The menu changes pretty regularly and so many dishes come and go.

    If it's a matter of ordering right, I can tell you the things I've had and enjoyed: fried oyster salad w/ white beans and pancetta (curious combination and it works); the above-mentioned duck salad; duck confit w/ pear & goat cheese; calamari w/ salami and hot peppers; mussels w/ italian sausage; pizzas (thin and crispy, from a real wood burning oven); short ribs (outstanding!); grouper w/ white beans and escarole. The whole yellowtail also looks beautiful but I haven't tried. The tasting menu is also a relative bargain at around $50, and the portions are hefty for a tasting menu. Often when my wife and I go one will order the tasting menu and the other can just get a couple apps. Great wine list too.

    OK, with my paen to Timo done with, let's see what other help I can provide:
    - I can't imagine driving from Aventura to Palm Beach for barbecue.
    - haven't been to Culebrinas; have heard good things about Havana Harry's.
    - Bugatti's and Ragazzi are both very good calls for Italian (and if you like them, I suspect you'll like Timo). If you haven't been to Bugatti's recently, you'll be surprised to learn they've actually updated their menu a bit for the first time in about 10 years.
    - The Indian place you're thinking of is called Heelsha and it's somewhere just off 163rd St. I went to their former place, Renaisa, but haven't been to the new one yet. It is rather pricey for Indian food (especially given their former dingy location - haven't seen the new place yet). Good Indian food is hard to come by in SoFl.

    A couple other random suggestions:
    - LeBon on Lincoln Road does very nice moules & frites and other belgian dishes. The "beat the clock" special ($10 for a 1/2 kg of mussels, w/ fries, from 5:30-7:00pm) is a great deal.
    - I've only been once, but had a pretty nice meal at Jaguar in Coconut Grove. They had excellent ceviches (many different choices, and you can get a "spoon" sampler of several), and then a curious mix of grilled steaks and the like and Mexican entrees. I'm usually not a big fan of this "grab-bag" style, but everything was actually pretty good and pretty fairly priced.
    - Mr. Chu's in South Beach (Washington & 8th St.) does very good Chinese and excellent dim sum in particular.

    1. Tom's Place is wonderful bbq - if you go, get both kinds of ribs and a slice of pie (I think they use lard in the crust, soooo good!). They're not open on Sundays. However, I agree it will be very far. You can go to Tom Jenkins in Ft Laud. Not fancy, but the best in Broward IMHO. It's an eat a picnic tables, no liquor type of place. Tom's is more of a sit down type place.

      In Ft laud, you can try Anthony's Coal fired pizza as well. Lot of places do the coal-fired thing, but I think Anthony's does it well. It's thin and crispy and sort of burny - yum. They have a very small menu, with salads, wings, pizzas and calzones as pretty much the options. Also, nice wine and beer selection for a smaller place.

      1. thanks for the suggestions...brick oven pizza is not what I'm after...I'm coming from NYC where we've got the best of that sort of thing...I would like cuban, and seafood, and real miami type fusion fare....What's good in Ft. Lauderdale that's inexpensive to moderate these days? We will be arriving late after 9pm so need to catch a late dinner with our 20 mo old son in tow....anything between Ft. Laud airport and Aventura area would be good...not Japanese, or Thai (we are used to Sripphrai in NY--so everything else never makes the grade)..thanks...

        1. I can't speak to FTL very much other than a couple higher-end places that I know and like, Johnny V's and Mark's. (Both have South Beach restaurants as well which are also quite good, Mark's especially). Both are good examples of "miami fusion" (for lack of a better term).

          One inexpensive choice close to FTL airport is Lester's Diner, old-fashioned diner, open 24 hrs, would probably hit the spot for a late-night meal after a flight. It's on State Road 84 just west of US1 which is just a couple miles from the airport.

          We used to go to Padrino's on Hallandale Beach Blvd (almost to the beach) for Cuban but that was ages ago, maybe someone else can say if it's still any good. That's pretty much on the way to Aventura from FLL. Not sure if they're open late.

          The best late-night eating between FTL and Aventura (actually just a little south of Aventura) is a Japanese place with outstanding fresh seafood, but I won't tell you about it, because you're from NY, and you're already sure you've got the best Japanese!

          For good simple fresh seafood, there's Captain Jim's (also a fish market) in North Miami area on W. Dixie Highway between 125th and 135th St. Best fish sandwich in town (usually dolphin or grouper) is at a place on the MIami River called Garcia's (also tied to a fish market). Neither of these places are anything to look at (although it is nice to sit outside at Garcia's on the River). For slightly more civilized, but still an old-school fish place, Captain's Tavern in South Miami hits the spot.

          1. For moderate in Fort Lauderdale, I would really recommned a great newcomer called Valentino. This is a small but upscale, busy place that serves wonderful, nicely prepared food. Horserdish crusted salmon, stacked filet mignon, lamb, terrific pastas, mussels, etc. Its on US 1 and Davie Rd. For a bit more expensive, I agree with Marks Las Olas and would also suggest Casa de Angelo for wonderful italian.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Debbie

              Been to d' angelo again recently. I think it is very good, but has consistency issues and is overrated (I think osterial del teatro is a cut above).

            2. Definitely go to Bissaleh and have their bissalehs and burekas and the lemonade with mint. We always try to get there when we're in the area.

              If you find yourself in FLL on the 17th Street Causeway, go to a little (inexpensive) place there named Giorgio's for great sandwiches and salads.

              1. thanks for the suggestions...have notated them, although, Bissaleh is closed on Friday's and we are getting in Friday late..also, Pilar closes at 10pm...so need a late night spot that is at least fairly child friendly, and not expensive---the Giorgio's cafe sounds good, and the Aruba Beach cafe sounds cool, but we need to really head south from Ft. Laud airport towards Aventura area...so, something, Dania, Hollywood, Hallandale, or NMB would be good....was thinking Le Petit Cafe in Dania that I like for crepes, but they close kinda early---what is good in Hollywood these days? Searched through the posts, and the only concensus seems to be the Coral Rose cafe for breakfasts....Is Opa Taverna still good, as I read some negative posts about it. The Japanese place Yakko San sounds interesting, but not for our arrival evening..The menu at Timo is a bit expensive and with a baby, it's just not practical to enjoy food like this, when you end up distracted---(such is life with a toddler!)....I used to go to Padrino's several years ago, and found it fairly okay, but not a destination point for me...was looking forward to going to Las Culebrinas or Havana Harry's....Been to Peppermill, Katz's Deli in Waterway's also...I thought I remembered reading about a new Greek place in Hollywood that was supposed to be good...thanks for the help...

                1. oh, forgot to ask about Louie's Brick Oven --past 163 rd st on Biscayne..any good? in case we can't find something else open..i see they are open late on Fridays..

                  1. Went once to Louie's Brick Oven and was underwhelmed. It was edible but saw no reason to ever go back.

                    1. Welcome back to Miami, Janie.

                      Dont know much about FLL and other points north...just as exotic as Burma and probably more difficult to get to, as far as I'm concerned. Here are some picks for Miami-Dade.

                      Italian: Bugatti (Coral Gables) and Tutto Pasta (Coral Way, Miami) are the two best trattorias around. Havent been to Sardinia (M. Beach) yet, but the rave is definitely on.

                      Seafood: Fresh seafood is still a rarity in Miami. You can find it at Cayo Esquivel in the hinterlands of West Hialeah. The blue collar crowd tends to behave (most of the time) and the daily specials are particularly a good value. I know it's expensive, but go to Joe's Stone Crabs in SOFI...not to the restaurant, but to the take out next door. And then have yourself a picnic on the beach two blocks away.

                      Cuban: I've recommended Havanna Harry's many times. The chicken ropa vieja is sufficient reason to visit Harry's. Rancho Molina of Hialeah fame remains the bastion of Cuban peasant food. I miss the old digs, as they've recently moved across the street to a new place, but the food is more than OK.

                      Fast Food: Dogma's for dogs, fries, and lemonade. I've only been to the Biscayne Blvd location, although the Beach keeps late hours I'm told. If you crave for a "designer" burger, there's always Oneburger, right next to The Globe bar/restaurant (Coral Gables).

                      Enjoy your stay...travel safe.

                      1. Thanks for the good wishes...yes, I mentioned Bugatti, always liked it alot..--any opinions on Creolina's , Cafe Seville, East Coast Burrito Factory, Gibby's (is it still around?)--, Bravo Italiano, Coco's (thai, vietnamese), Chima? Also, does Yakko San make good shrimp tempura? Thanks............

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: janie

                          Creaolina's is good, not great "Nawlins -style" food. We sometimes go before theatre at Broward Center, which is very nearby, but I wouldn't go out of my way. Cafe Seville is also good, but not great...Adds a lot to the neighborhood, but not worth a trip. Fish there is very well prepared. Gibby's closed and no loss, except for the "blue-haired crowd" perhaps. Bravo is another which is just OK. Try Valentino's for excellent Italian food (Federal Hwy) or Cibo e Vino (E. Oakland Park Blvd). Chima is a fun experience with a group and very pretty. Sorry, but I don't know the other places.

                        2. Is Creolina's the place in Fort Lauderdale? If so, I tried it once, it was decent but very heavy. Lots of cream, lots of roux.

                          Never had shrimp tempura at Yakko San but have separately had several shrimp preparations and several tempuras and both are excellent. It stands to reason...

                          Haven't tried any of the others you mention.

                          1. In Aventura unespensive in the area all you could find is Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang etc.. and other chain name restaurants. There are good places in the area, but it may be a little too costly. If you like Indian at a moderate price try Guru in South Beach It's on 11 St between Washington and Collins. If you don't mind to drive to the Doral area there's an Italian place called Bruchetta (41 ST NW 107 AVE) which is pretty good. The are also opening a new location on Western Miramar which it may be closer to you. On Lincoln RD you may want to try Bayans great little place not expensive if you try their Pumpkin Ravioli with Mascarpone Sauce. As for Cuban you have a wide choice down here, my personal favorite is Versailles on SW 8 ST.

                            1. In Aventura is Chef Allen's, one of the originators of "floribbean cuisine". I ate there last winter and had a very good meal. I was expecting a four star Bouley/JG type experience but it was not at that level and so I was a little dissapointed. It was, still, an excellent meal and would suggest you check out their website. As long as you are in Aventura it is probably worth a visit.
                              On the issue of ribs, don't even think about going all the way up to west palm for Tom's. I ate at Tom's when they were in Delray/Boca and I thought they were good but not special. Tom Jenkins is special and it is just outside the the airport and so much closer.
                              If you do go to south beach consider Osteria del Teatro. I ate ther on Tuesday and had a fantastic meal. I took the advise of local hounds about how good this place was and they were right, it was fantastic. I considered Johnny V at the Astor, menu looked good the space looked awesome. The wife thought the menu looked a little to strange and wanted OdT instead..

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: stuartlafonda

                                Hi Stuart...this is Janie from the outer boroughs...I've been to Chef Allen and wasn't terribly impressed thought it was way past its heyday several years ago....and have had better elsewhere and cheaper, too....don't think we'll make the barbecue excursion--had two really good meals so far, at Scorch and Pilar,,,,,will report back with any other winners....ate at Osteria many years ago, around the time when I think someone got stabbed there,,,and yes, it was great, and expensive if memory serves me right...Johnny V at the Astor was incredible years ago,,,didn't try the place in Ft. Lauderdale and so I'm glad to hear he's back downtown beachside...have fun!