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3 Months in Miami...where must I go?

I'm a NYC transplant down in Miami for three months working at a restaurant, I live by FIU and work in Coral Gables but am more than willing to travel both to see the city and eat great food. Like at any resto, I work long hours so late night haunts with interesting food are a plus. I've searched on the boards but I don't want just Table 8 type places, I want your favorite local spots around Miami. Places that will make me feel like I've actually gotten to KNOW the city. So, suggestions?!! Thanks, I look forward to getting to know this town!

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  1. This is out in the outer reaches of Miami, I've seen the adress listed as both Homestead, and miami,but it is a Tiki bar, that serves a really great burger, i cant remember the name but it is next door to Krome Exxon 19900 highway 997 (or sw 177th av) it is next to a canal so you can watch all kinds of birds, gators, etc, while you eat, oh and watch out for the chickens that make their way in and through the eating area...it's really a cool little spot!

    2 Replies
    1. re: jword2001

      hI love Garcia's on the Miami River, Funky outdoor deck, fresh fish market, Whole roasted fish, plantains,has a full bar. Great prices, and you will feel like a Miami insider when you leave. And Versailles- serves a great mojito, stirred with a sugar cane stick- its bright and nirrored but really nice people and great classic Miami Cuban Menu.. I love the more "real" restaurants rather than the most trendy- love News Cafe fruit and granola, cafe con leche breakfast, people watching. Also great mojito at VanDykes on Lincoln Road. My daughter and son in law went to FIU, main Campus, lived in Sweetwater, and I learned everything about starting out eating in Miami from 3 Guys From Miami (back in the day before they were famous) http://3guysfrommiami.com/ - go where they say and you will have the greatest Miami local culture experience. In general everyone is so nice- and will help you if you don't speak spanish. I could go on- every little convenience store sells cuban coffe (drink withe sucre) for less than a dollar! I love the window at any La Carretta- guava pastry and cortadito(less milk than a cafe con leche). I tell you eating and drinking is so much fun in Miami!

      1. re: jword2001

        A few ideas:

        (1) Garcia's Seafood - 398 NW North River Drive - not a late night place, in fact I've only been for lunch, but they do nice fish chowder and a great dolphin sandwich in a divey little spot on the Miami River.

        (2) Hiro's Yakko San - 17040 W. DIxie Highway - fantastic Japanese tapas and open late (i.e. 3am or later, I believe) every night. Sashimi and lots of fresh fish (and a huge selection of other items, including usually about 15 or more blackboard specials every night) but no sushi. Given the late hours and great food this place is a big draw for folks in the restaurant biz.

        (3) El Carajo - 17th Ave. & US1 - outstanding tapas in a tiny place literally in the back of the CITGO gas station. Try the piquillos stuffed w/ bacalao - one of the best dishes I have ever had anywhere. Probably closed by 11pm.

        (4) Timo - 170th & Collins - perhaps a little too white tablecloth given your message, but I think this is one of the top restaurants in town and somewhat less pricey than South Beach or Gables places.

      2. FINE DINING

        Sardinia Ristorante
        1801 Purdy Ave
        Miami Beach, FL 33139
        (305) 531-2228

        Ortanique on the Mile
        278 Miracle Mile
        Coral Gables, FL 33134
        (305) 446-7710


        Beach Bar-B-Que
        1555 Washington Ave
        Miami Beach, FL 33139
        (305) 538-7201

        Siam Lotus Room
        6388 S Dixie Hwy
        South Miami, FL 33143
        (305) 666-8134

        Rustic Inn Crab House
        4331 Anglers Ave. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
        954-584-1637 800-274-2722

        Rustica Pizza
        667 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach - (305) 672-2334
        863 Washington Ave, Miami Beach - (305) 674-8244

        Jaguar Ceviche Bar & LatAm Grill
        3067 Grand Ave.
        Coconut Grove, FL 33133
        (305) 444-0216

        LC's Roti Shop
        19505 NW 2nd Ave
        Miami, FL 33169
        (305) 651-8924

        DIVE BAR

        Club Deuce
        222 14th St
        Miami Beach, FL 33139
        (305) 531-6200

        1. Should also add Sergio's for pretty good Cuban (especially their sandwiches, try the pan con lechon) on Coral Way and 32nd Ave. I think they may be open late on weekends.

          Also, for a unique sandwich experience, try El Rey de Chivito on Collins just south of 71st St. A chivito is a Uruguayan specialty, a sandwich piled with thin churrasco style steak, ham, mozzarella, bacon, a fried egg, mayo, lettuce, tomato, olives, served over fries (to catch the grease as it drips!) Like a heart attack on a bun! Open late (2am) on weekends.

          1. In addition to the ones mentioned already...
            Graziano's on bird rd
            Popcorn paradise - hot dogs
            River Oyster Bar - especially bbq ribs

            1. Mr chus for dim sum lunch

              1. I have not been but from everything I have heard Hy Vong is awesome. I am also hearing great things about this mexican place I believe is on Calle Ocho. I will find out more.

                2 Replies
                1. re: tpigeon

                  Oh, yeah even though it is out of season Joes Stone Crabs is a miami institution and so is Sunday Brunch at the Biltmore -- warning, last time I went to brunch at the biltmore it was not very good. But every other time was.

                  1. re: tpigeon

                    Hy Vong is an interesting little spot. Vietnamese, the food is more high-end than just a noodle joint though the place itself is just a hole in the wall. Went recently after not having been for years. The cha gio (spring rolls) are great, shatteringly crispy on the outside, soups are always delicious. The cari ga (chicken curry w/ sweet potato) was actually a little bland and greasy, though cellophane noodles w/ chicken and shrimp were good. The brownie sundae dessert is a very un-Vietnamese surprise, and a good one to go with a sweet Vietnamese coffee.
                    The place is legendary for the slowness of the service, and you'll usually have to wait (typically 30 minutes to an hour) to get a table, and then wait patiently to get your food. Complaining will accomplish nothing, it's just how things are there. Go with someone you have lots to talk about with.

                    Can't think of any Mexican place on Calle Ocho, though Casa Juancho does pretty good Spanish food.

                  2. I definitely second the recommendation for Hiro's Yakko San. Since I moved to S. Fla. last year, it's become my favorite place. Sardinia is also excellent.

                    I'm also a fan of Le Bon on Lincoln Road, which specializes in Belgian-style mussel pots, fries and Belgian beer. They have some good deals on the mussels between 5-7, I think.

                    When I'm down by the FIU campus I like to hit up The Pit for decent barbecue. Just take 8th Street west past the turnpike for a few miles and it will be on your left once everything thins out. The deep-fried Pillsbury biscuits from a tube are awesome. On your way out there, you'll also pass El Palacio De Los Jugos, which has good Cuban food and fresh fruit juices. El Rey de la Frita in Little Havana is also a good bet for a local take on a burger.

                    If you like tropical fruit and are up for a little bit of a drive, I would definitely suggest Robert Is Here, a produce market in Florida City. I believe July is usually when they start selling the locally grown Kent mangoes, which are undoubtedly one of the best fruits I have ever tasted. They make killer milkshakes there too.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: Nick

                      I usually agree with Frod and TPigeon, two great consistent posters. Not so much this time. I don't care for Mr. Chu's or Hy Vong. I prefer South Garden for Dim Sum on Sunset near 115th, nearer to you, and filled with Chinese, and Pho Thang on SW 160th, not so close, for real Vietnamese. For Japanese, I adore Su-Shin in Coral Gables on Aragon, although Hiro's Yakko-san is also terrific. I like Sakura in Doral for authentic Korean, but today's obscure pick of the day is right near FIU. Sabores Chilenos is a tiny shopping center place with the most delicious salsa for their fantastic empanadas. I think they refer to it as aji pebre, but I'm culturally devoidafunk here. Nick is also on the money about everything but Robert is Here, a notorious tourist trap (but props for a certain, oldtime cool.) Try not to blast me on your comebacks.

                      1. re: crach

                        Crach -
                        Surprised to hear no love for Mr. Chu's, though I can understand not being a fan of Hy Vong. Unfortunately the choices for Vietnamese are pretty limited in Miami. I am also a big fan of Su-Shin. Yakko-San recently updated their menu and (much to my dismay) has dropped the okonomiyaki, so Su-Shin may be the only place to get this now (on the dinner menu). I guess the payback is that the grilled pork belly and black pig sausages are now regular menu items.

                        1. re: crach

                          Ok, I'll bite, you are nuts, Mr. Chu's dim sum is awesome.

                          1. re: tpigeon

                            I preferred Frod's tone, but I'll engage you a bit. Is Mr. Chu's even Chinese? Are the dim-sum prices Chinese? Perhaps this doesn't matter, perhaps, to some, it might?

                            1. re: crach

                              I don't get your logic. "Are the dim-sum prices Chinese?" It's the equivalent of why a Big Mac costs more in London than in Dallas.

                              1. re: lax2mia


                                The fresh, stone crab dumplings at Mr. Chu's this season might not have had "Made in China" stamped on their little behinds, but they were

                                A M A Z I N G.

                                I'm with TP on this one.

                                Chef Z>

                                Where are YOU cooking?

                                Late night, try the smoked pork or the fried fish sammie at Tobacco Road on Miami Ave (til 4am), say hi to the Cheer's crowd at Clarke's on 1st Street (1am weekends) where the "low brow" burgers are as satisfying as the "high brow" duck. Beach BBQ on Washington stays open late weekends and has the best whacked smoked pork and giant onion rings in the hood (ask for a side of the unfortunately named "piggy sauce"). If you're in the Design District, Alan Hughes has opened his hipster hideout 190 again and keeps the party going til 3am weekends (now moved to 54th after the old landlord jacked up the rent). Closer to your job - stop by the brand new Christabelle's Quarter on Commodore Plaza and give a warm Miami welcome to the very nice guys chased out of Louisiana after Katrina. Do not mention hurricane season started today, but do check out the late night eats til 3am. (Eat the bacon wrapped fried oysters and think of me...)

                                Welcome to Miami!


                              2. re: crach

                                Re chinese: same stuff I get in chinatown in new york and in san fran. That's about as chinese as I get. Never been to the mainland. I agree with lax on the pricing issue.

                                1. re: crach

                                  From what I'm able to gather from a few older news stories and reviews, Mr. Chu was formerly head of the kitchens at Tropical and at Toni Chan's Water Club, though the restaurant is owned by Toni of Thai Toni. I think he's the real deal.

                                  I've never found the dim sum to be very expensive at all. I usually go with my 2 kids (who are pretty good dim sum eaters), sometimes with my wife, and eat like a piggy myself, and the bill is typically between $40-50 including tip.

                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    I guess I'm still mad about the historical episodes at Thai Toni which may be unfair. I'll try again with as open a mind as I can have. If you don't understand, don't ask!

                          2. Chef Z, if i may , provided you have not been in the keys before,I would highly recommend that you also search the Florida board for rec's down there, and if you get a few days off go,it's really worth the trip.

                            1. Tobacco Road in downtown, Liquor License #1 and lots of live blues. I've heard they serve food also. . .:-P

                              Second the 3guysfromMiami advice. Don't miss Versailles. And I would go to the Biltmore for a splurge just once -- or forget that, just go on a sunny afternoon and walk around the grounds. That's the best part of going there anyway. :-D

                              1. Love New York for food, not so crazy about Miami. but...try BALI CAFE for Indonesian, 109 NE 2nd Ave. Open monday-friday lunch & dinner, sat-sun lunch only.Delicious
                                TONI SUSHI on Washington Ave & 12th in South Beach, Very Very Good. We love Hy Vong on 8th Street in Miami, Very Authentic. The hearty soup is always great.Beef Bo Bung is perfect. Good Thai food at 520 NE167th St PANYA THAI. Excellent ceviche at THE CEVICHE HOUSE, this location only,13448 Biscayne Blvd.. The fish soup is also very good.
                                I'm a chef myself and quite picky. I'm interested in authentic ethnic foods, service is less important, and hole in the wall kind of places are my favorite. In Miami, the best food is found in the strip centers.

                                1. These are my humble suggestions:

                                  Madrono – good Nicaraguan near FIU
                                  I prefer the carne asada with gallo pinto and maduros. You need to have a side of queso frito too.
                                  10780 W Flagler St
                                  Miami, FL 33174
                                  (305) 485-3332

                                  Poblano – good Mexican in South Miami
                                  5850 Sunset Dr
                                  South Miami, FL 33143
                                  (305) 740-9087

                                  Salmon Salmon
                                  Good Peruvian
                                  2907 NW Seventh St., Miami

                                  I agree with Hiro's Yakko San. Divine.

                                  Siam Palace – good Thai near FIU
                                  9999 SW 72ND St Ste 109
                                  Miami, FL
                                  Phone: (305) 279-6906

                                  La Sandwicherie – great fresh sandwich – Miami Beach
                                  Been going there since I was a kid. I prefer mine on a croissant. Open-air counter. Get it to go and sit on the beach.
                                  229 14th Street
                                  Miami Beach, FL

                                  Front Porch – good for brunch.
                                  1418 Ocean Dr
                                  Miami Beach, FL 33139