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Miami's best recommended?

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We are coming to Miami in a few weeks for vacation and are looking for the best recommended places to eat. We were there 4 years ago and ate at Azul, Normans, Pacific Time, Baleen and Aria (at the Ritz where we stayed). We loved Azul, but I understand Michele Bernstein is no longer there. Is Michy's a must? What about the Blue Door at the Delano? Too chi-chi? Other places I've heard about are Nemo, Mosaico, Vix, Marks South Beach, Prime 112 (although we are not big steak house types), OLA, Restaurant at the Setai, I could go on...! We will probably have 6 nights, would love to hear your recommendations...thanks!

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  1. Casa Tua, Casa Tua, Casa Tua, Casa Tua, Casa Tua, Casa Tua.

    I've been to almost all the restaurants you mention, and I think Casa Tua will be one of your favorites. Absolutely beautiful in a non-trendy, extremely comfortable way (Think of eating in the home of a very good friend with a gorgeous place in the Hamptons) and the food was perfect.

    1. Not sure you have been recently but the food at Casa Tua has gone downhill.

      In Sobe:
      Table 8
      Nobu - if you have not been
      Osteria Del Teatro
      Prime 112 - The steak is decent. The other stuff is great.
      Joes Stone Crabs

      Outside Sobe:
      Ortanique
      Francesco
      River Cafe

      These are not in any particular order btw.

      Vix is not recommended. Setai - never eaten there but heard it has gotten much better. I doubt it is as good as any of the places above though and it is more expensive.

      1. If you loved Azul you should definitely go to Michy's. Very different kind of place, much more downscale. Highly recommend that you review other postings on this board as the menu is sort of hit or miss (the hits are quite good).

        Other of my favorites: Talula, Mark's South Beach, Nobu if you haven't been, Timo (a little out of the way in Sunny Isles if you're staying in SoBe), Joe's, Ortanique. Johnny V at the Astor Hotel is probably worth a try, I went right when they opened and they were still working the kinks out; it was still good, probably has gotten better.

        Have never been to Blue Door; Nemo is good to very good, but locals have grown tired of it as the menu never changes (OK if you've never been); Mosaico is gone; Vix sounds great but the execution is weak and it's very pricey; OLA was great when it was on Biscayne but I wasn't as enamored after the move to the Beach; Setai is extremely pricey and I haven't been but know people who have and say it's a unique experience.

        1. Thanks for all the info...we are staying at the Ritz Key Biscayne, so coming to SoBe everynight gets draining...but after looking at all the menus most of the places that sound good are there. I've managed to narrow it down a bit...Michy's, Table 8, Talula, Wish, Nemo, Pacific Time, OLA, Cacao, Casa Tua, Marks South Beach and the Blue Door. Nobu doesn't take reservations, and that's a major turnoff for us. Anyone have any opinions on Wish and Cacao? How about Azul with the new chef? I hear he hails from Todd English's kitchen, and I'm not a big Todd English fan. The other thing I've heard is that the Blue Door has very snooty service. Thanks again, this is so great being able to pick your brains!

          2 Replies
          1. re: kbfood

            Gotta say, just ate at the blue door and had great service. Food is very good. Do sunday brunch at your hotel. Unbeatable.

            No way on casa tua. Way overrated. Go to ortanique. Or if you want italian Osteria del Teatro blows it out of the water.

            You are also missing Francesco and Graziano's (go to the one on bird rd), Joe's Stone Crabs and River Oyster Bar. All of these deserve consideration. and only one is in Sobe.

            1. re: kbfood

              Try "Chocolate" @2091 Coral Way, 305 858 9088. Sounds as tho it"s for you. Must make reservations.

            2. If you're willing to do an early dinner you can usually get into Nobu by showing up before they open at 7, and having a drink at the bar or at the Skybar outside. There's a bit of milling around as they open the doors and we've already been able to get in as a couple without a wait.

              Last time I was at Wish was a couple chefs ago, so I can't say much about the food, but it's a very nice place to have a meal outside. Cacao is quite nice with a lot of varied South American influences. If you're going to the Gables I might choose Ortanique over Cacao but both are very good. I also like Chispa. Haven't been to Azul since Michelle Bernstein left.

              If you're looking to avoid the trek from Key Biscayne to SoBe, I'm curious if any other chowhounds can comment on Duo, which is in downtown / Brickell Ave. area. I have yet to go but have seen menus they have done for wine events and am quite intrigued.

              1. Okay, more choices to ponder. I have to say that everytime I look at Ortanique's website/menu I get a bit turned off, but between you all and the guidebooks, it comes highly recommended, so maybe I should just bite the bullet and make a reservation! Haven't heard of the others that tpigeon recommended....back to google I go.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kbfood

                  Get the snapper if you go.

                2. I agree with a lot of those already mentioned (Nobu especially and Blue Door)...just wanted to add an Italian place we like in Coral Gables called Cafe' Abracci on Aragon Avenue. It was a little loud last time we were there, but that was the only time we'd experienced that. Great food.

                  Also, I really enjoy the Forge. I know some say they like Prime 112 better. I haven't been there so I can't speak on it, but I've always had a nice experience at the Forge on 41st Street in Miami Beach.
                  Link: www.theforge.com

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: HeatherFL

                    Abracci is always loud... i think it is the accoustics of the restuarant. I find the food there extremely solid. There's a new italian place a couple of blocks north around the corner from francesco's... Tuscano Grille i think. It was quite good as well when i went for lunch last week. The wait staff was excellent. One of the people in my party is somewhat hard to please and they made him an off the menu rissoto that he loved.

                    1. re: sprmario

                      Funny. We've been there several times and just once was it really loud. Thanks on teh Tuscano Grille. Todd loves risotto. That will have to be a must try next time we're back home.

                  2. I've never been a big fan of Abracci's food, much more a see-and-be-seen place. For Italian in the Gables I prefer Bugatti (but I don't think it's so good that it's worth going out of your way for.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      I haven't tried Bugatti and I didn't see Abracci as a see and be seen at all. By whom? LOL It was just a bunch of older people trying way too hard to look younger, but we did enjoy our meals. I will have try Bugatti, though. Thanks for the recommendation.

                      1. re: HeatherFL

                        I'm not suggesting it's a young crowd, but it is definitely a big-shot crowd, esp. for lunch (I don't get there in the evening).

                        1. re: Frodnesor

                          Nor was I referring to young being equated with "hip"/seen and be seen. Just giving an observation of my experiences.

                          Never been there for lunch. I guess it depends on your definition of "Big-Shot." If you mean a bunch of business people trying way too hard, eh-I could care less. It seems being that it's in the Coral Gables business district that would probably be so. A lot of $40,000 a year millionaires trying too hard and a lot of millionaires trying to relate to the former...See that in South Tampa and back home on South Beach all the time...

                          I'm there for the meal. It doesn't matter to me who else is there as long as they're not loud or disruptive. Oh-and they don't smell.

                    2. I'm going to Michy's this weekend, and I've been several other times and can tell you that I haven't had any misses there. I love being able to order anything on the menu in a half portion, so I can get a lot of little choices. If you enjoyed Azul, then definitely go here. It's one of the few restaurants in Miami where the products are all amazing. A few of the dishes from Azul made it to her menu here (tuna carpaccio, very similar shell fish platters and ceviche, etc...), and all of the new ones are great. Try the truffled polenta if it's still there, and as always, the fois gras dishes are awesome.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: IDGuofM

                        I like Michy's a lot, and think some dishes are fantastic, but there are others which just baffle me: the conch "escargot" style? The brussels sprout salad that accompanies the duck confit? Have you had these and think they're good?

                        1. re: Frodnesor

                          I haven't had the "escargot" conch, but I did have the conch she made at Azul (sort of a "mojo style" with garlic, lime, and cilantro) with fried yucca and that was pretty great. I have had the duck and thought the brussel sprouts were good (if i remember they were in kind of a mustard vinaigrette with celery?). Considering I'm not much of a brussel sprouts fan to begin with, I was impressed. Admittedly, I've seen others complain about the sprouts and I'd prefer something else to them, but I thought they were prepared well and tasted good.

                      2. There are 3 restaurants in Coral Gables that I haven't seen listed that I would put above the rest, including Ortanique, which is too noisy to converse without shouting. These are (in decreasing order of price): La Cofradia, Palm d'Or, and City Cellar.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: odurih

                          I have never found City Cellar to be anything to get excited about other than a decent, reasonably priced and fairly quickly delivered lunch.
                          Just went to Cofradia today actually and thought it was pretty good. Definitely different, a nice change of pace.

                        2. Just came back from Miami. I had a delicious lunch in Bill Baggs State Park in Key Biscayne. It was at Boater's Grill at No Name Harbour in the park. Simple, delicious fish and the view was lovely overlooking the harbour, boats coming in, and there were even some dolphins that came by. It was an overall lovely experience.....casual though. Thanks to 'chocolate' from this board for recommending this to me!!!!!!!!!!

                          In SoBe, I ate at Ice Box Cafe. I've been there twice now and love it. There menu is constantly changing based upon the fresh ingredients in the market. Very fresh, and tasty food. And the chocolate peanut butter ice cream cake is heavenly!

                          1. Went to Talula last night. We're from Manhattan and have gotten tired of the same entrees in most restaurants. We were very, very happy with Talula. We ate like kings for $220 for 3 and we tipped about 24%. Our server was friendly and knowledgable. No 'server drama' like you can get on Ocean.

                            The room is tasteful and quiet, with nice music that doesn't overwhelm conversation. We had snapper, the pork chop and the hangar steak, and we couldn't decide which was better. I also loved the ceviche, and the foie gras was absolutley perfect.

                            Save room for dessert if you love bread pudding.

                            And the Vero Beach Lemonade was a lovely cocktail. Not too sweet, not too tart.

                            Our waiter was Carlos, and he was just perfect. Friendly but not unctuous.

                            1. Nexxt cafe is a must!!! The food is wonderful and so are the drinks! Not very expensive and the menu is huge!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: jeffsangel03

                                I hate to disagree with you but nexxt sucks.

                                1. re: jeffsangel03

                                  I don't think it's a must and I don't think it sucks either. I think they tried hard to replicate the Cheese Cake Factory which equates to good food at a good price and a lot of it, that's Nexxt...it's good, or decent, not great. With a menu that size there's sure to be some losers, I have personally never had anything that was unedible. What bad dishes have you had TP?

                                  Obviously a lot of people like it becuase it's always packed, however, they are probably not chowhounds either...or at least they don't appear to be posting much here. For your average smo coming from US suburbia Nexxt would compare well or surpass the myraid of chains...the quantity vs quality approach is their schtick...to some people that equation = value. Their location is among the best on Lincoln without a doubt...that too counts for something.

                                  1. re: netmover

                                    Nexxt is a worse version of cheesecake factory. As far as determining suckiness, the tpigeon Ratio clearly resolves for x suckiness by taking Calories/Taste. Nexxt has a high suckiness ratio.

                                    1. re: tpigeon

                                      I have to agree with TP. The place is quantity over quality, although as net pointed out, it's not inedible. When I take friends from out of town (especially those from suburbia w/ kids) to Lincoln Road I close my eyes and pray that they don't notice Nexxt as we walk by. Luckily none of them have suggested it but I know it's just a matter of time. Plus pigeons seem to be eerily attracted to the place.