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Jul 12, 2007 06:59 PM

Best Eats In Miami


I will be in the area and have 4 dinners and lunches to sample the best Miami has to offer. I am looking at Michy's, Casa Tua, Cielo ( I know it is in Boca but Angela Harnett is a great chef), La Goulue Christian Delouvrier ( have not heard anything about it), Cuban choice (friends that lived in Mia some years ago rave about Versaille but I have not read anything that good on the board), Evolution (have read most negative)...appreciate any suggestions.

Many Thanks,

Molto E

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  1. help me narrow down this list:

    Michy's definite

    La Goule Christian Delouvrier 70%

    Cielo 80%

    Casa Tua or Quattro Gastronomia or Escopazzo or other

    Table 8

    Pascal's on Ponce

    any of the Mark's joints

    North One 10

    is Mosaico around?


    Molto E

    5 Replies
    1. re: Molto E

      Michy's is a definite but I must caution you to diminish expectations a bit. It's a fantastic neighborhood place which has been elevated to gourmet destination by lots of national press. Check this board for tips as well - some dishes are a lot better than others. Here's a good start -

      Goulue is really mediocre. I have no idea how this guy has such a great reputation in NY. Skip.

      Don't know from Cielo, out of my geographic range.

      Tua, Gastronomia - have not been to either but the general consensus seems to be that they are highly overrated (Tua has its fans). Escopazzo is better liked, but I haven't been in a long time. I'd sugest Sardinia for Italian over any of them.

      Table 8 - went once, thought it was pretty good, was not so wowed that I felt compelled to return immediately.

      Pascal's - nice, fairly traditional French. Nothing particularly Miami about it.

      Mark's (South Beach) - I think this is one of the real under-the-radar places locally. Always good execution, high quality ingredients, some nice focus on local product ... some find it a little bland but I'm a fan.

      Mosaico is gone.

      Other thoughts:

      Talula - one of my favorites on South Beach. Husband-wife chef team both of whom previously had their own restaurants (Andrea Curto at Wish, Frank Randazzo at Gaucho Room and several other places). A little more downscale than other SoBe places but the food is top-notch.

      Timo - Sunny Isles - another somewhat underrated place, but again I think the food is just oustanding. Menu is updated every couple months, something of a mediterranean bent.
      Can see menu here (also Michy's):

      Michael's Genuine - Design District - Michael Schwartz is a vet of several SoBe restaurants (Nemo, Afterglow) and this new place in the Design District may be best yet. Again you should find lots of commentary on this board.

      6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138

      1801 Purdy avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

      Mark's South Beach
      1120 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

      , FL

      Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
      130 N.E. 40th Street, Miami, FL 33137

      1. re: Frodnesor

        Thank you for your insight...disappointed about goulue...I as going to put Sardinia on that list...I will check out your picks and may return with more questions...thanks again!!

        Molto E

        1. re: Molto E

          Frod is accurate (especially about Tua and Quattro) but I like table 8 more than he does and think it is as good as talula. The herald just wrote up the new restaurant @ the tides and said it was very good btw. That might be an option as well. I have never been to that place so I cannot tell you firsthand.

          Had some really good food @ nobu last night so it is back on my list of top places - it is a chain though so I would not put it on the list -- anyway I had:

          I ordered the creamy rock shrimp tempura - spicy (you must request spicy) for the first time and it was pretty awesome - spicy makes better than the regular creamy rock shrimp. They also had the white truffle scallops dish special that was even better than the black cod miso - this, despite the fact that truffles are way out of season -not sure how they got them...finally there was this salmon sashimi salad (i think) that was even better than their regular sashimi salad.

          1. re: tpigeon

            Thanks...Nobu could work...what about Osteria del Teatro?

    2. I have been to all of your considerations. I LOVE Michy's. The Fettucini Alfredo and Rids are to die for. Also order the Bread Pudding for wont be sorry. I order these three everytime I go and then try something new.

      Casa Tua is very nice and the ambiance is nice. However, it is incredibly expensive for very small portion sizes and while it is good I don't think it is good enough to justify the price. If budget is not a concern I would go to say you've been there.

      Cielo is fine...nothing memorable to note about the experience.

      I go to Versailles when I want cuban and so do all of my Cuban American friends. People get put out by the fact that tour buses pull up but trust me it is still authentic.

      I would also check out Joe's or Monty's which are Miami institutions.

      The brunch at St. Michel is great as is brunch at the Tides.

      Smith and Wollinskys is also an amazing meal with a beautiful Miami view...I know it is a chain of sorts but it really is good.

      7 Replies
      1. re: lorilaw

        Thanks...I had a suggestion of Lariot for Cuban???

        1. re: Molto E

          the best Cuban food i have had in Miami would be Ay Mama Ines (Bird Rd. [sw 40th st.] & 119th?) it's actually "Afro-Cuban" i guess. but its different than most cuban places and it has an awesome selection of gamier fare such as Rabbit, Crocodile, Frog. There is this delicious Mushroom with Cheese appetizer that blew me away last time i had it., and their Arroz con Pollo is made to order, so it's gotta be good. There's also a white piano, so i'm guessing live music on weekends, mayeb some Bola de Nieve type idea.

        2. re: lorilaw

          "I go to Versailles when I want cuban and so do all of my Cuban American friends. People get put out by the fact that tour buses pull up but trust me it is still authentic."

          I have no problem with tour buses. There is just better Cuban food in South Florida. Las Culebrinas for one. Even Miami Havana (lunch only) on Miller is better. OTOH, if the total experience is more important than just the food, Versailles is a fine choice.

          1. re: diablita FL

            I went to eat at Las Culebrinas a few months ago and I thought it was there a specific branch that is good...maybe I picked the wrong one...which LC do you find better than Versailles?

            1. re: lorilaw

              People are not getting sick from Las Culebrinas! The original location in Miami just north of Coral Gables is fantastic. They have a vaca frita that is served over baked plaintains which have been soaked in wine, heavenly. This is a great place. If anyone has had a "terrible" meal there, it was an unlikely abberation.

            2. re: diablita FL

              Las Culebrinas does TASTE better than Versailles- but we took my in-laws there a few months ago and we all got some kind of food-bourne illness.

            3. re: lorilaw

              Not this time of year for Joe's. Stone crabs are out of season. I agree on Versailles. Get the mariquitas.

            4. For Cuban fusion, Yuca. For Cuban upscale, Cohiba. For Cuban trendy casual, Larios or (less trendy) Havana Harry's. For Cuban standard, Las Culebrinas.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mialebven

                After all the comparisons, in the commoners range, I prefer Versailles to each Lario's though all are populated by Miami Cubans.

              2. Of the ones you mentioned, please go to Michy's. We went on Friday after so many Frodnesor recommendations :-) and loved it loved it. Best oysters I have had in a long time (from Washington state). We enjoyed everything we had. BTW...anyone had the fried chicken there? Thinking about this one for next time but it hasn't been mentioned on any previous Michy's posts.... Anyway, I would definitely add Osteria del Teatro as well and hope you really enjoy your trip.

                4 Replies
                1. re: yomyb

                  I have had the fried was really good, but not good enough to change my mainstays...ribs, fettucini and bread pudding...try it next time in the smaller portion and see if you like it!

                  1. re: lorilaw

                    Michy's is a definite

                    Cuban will be a lunch and may be of a double dip of Versaille and one of the other choices...what are the dishes not to miss?

                    Other spots up for debate...Mark's South Beach...Nobu...Osteria del Teatro...I will be around Bal Harbour but will drive for eats.

                    Thank you for your thoughts...

                    1. re: Molto E

                      If you're going to make it out to Versailles you might want to go a little deeper into Coral Gables and go to Havana Harry's. It doesn't have the history and kitsch of Versailles, but it's a little less frenetic and more homey. Try the vaca frita de pollo (literally chicken friend cow, usually this is made with beef that's boiled then seared till crunchy. The chicken version is make with a sour orange mojo and it's as addicting a dish as any).

                      1. re: lax2mia

                        Actually I'd say that a "vaca frita de pollo" is a "cow-fried chicken" (sort of like the converse of a chicken-fried steak!)

                        Look, here's a recipe:

                2. How do you rate the reviews at the Miami New Times??

                  29 Replies
                  1. re: Molto E

                    I rate them by the reviewer. Pamela Robin Brandt knows her stuff. Lee Klein is a hack.

                    1. re: Molto E

                      Not always reliable. Sometimes they are right on and sometimes you wonder: did they even try the place or did they just collect some cash and wrote an ad? Any particular place you read a review and are wondering about?

                      1. re: yomyb

                        I have to double check on which reviewer wrote the review but Evolution had a fantastic review but on the love. Even the review for La Goulue was in the end positive but the details were so-so. I looked at the menus of Mark's and Talula and it seemed to have a number of components a the dishes work there or is it too many extra touches?

                        1. re: Molto E

                          My first meal at Goulue was pretty good (really nice hangar steak) but 2 and 3 were downhill from there, and haven't been back since. For bistro level French I'd just as soon do Gourmet Diner.

                          I ate at Evolution recently and thought it was not quite as good as the glowing review, but not nearly as bad as many on the boards have said. A few dishes were fantastic, some were merely good, but I'd certainly go back for a special occasion dinner.

                          I find both Mark's and Talula generally do a successful job of avoiding the "too many notes" problem with some high-end cooking. There's a lot going on often, but I think both places have chefs who really concentrate on making the elements work together.

                          One interesting thing at Talula is that the menu bears the influence of both sides of a husband-wife chef team (both of whom were very successful chefs on their own before opening the restaurant together). Andrea Curto tends to be more out-there, while Frank Randazzo tends to keep it more simple (Frank's Char-Grilled Steak - especially the hangar or rib-eye - with onion rings is a great example).

                          As for Mark's, one of the raps on him actually is that his cooking is a little too subtle. I don't find this to be the case, but to each his own.

                          1. re: Frodnesor

                            I am staying right behind Bal Harbour so the first night, because La Goulue is so close that may be the easiest spot for dinner. When you dined there was Delouvier actually cooking? I have Michy's sceduled for night two so I am good there. I am looking at Michael's Genuine, Mark's, Table 8, Evolution, Sardinia, or Teatro to fill the rest of the dinners. Lunches will be Cuban (not sure where), maybe Casa Tua, and up in the air for the rest. Many thanks for your continued help in answering my questions!!

                            Molto E

                            1. re: Molto E

                              I have a suspician that Delouvier's presence at the Miami location is as ephemeral and fleeting as the presence of vermouth in a martini these days. If he's got any sense he sure isn't down here for the hot summer.

                              In any event, I might suggest if you're staying in Bal Harbour area you consider the following:

                              Cafe Ragazzi - right down the street from you, very nice Italian place, excellent pastas. Generally quite busy, often a line waiting outside.

                              Timo - about 10 minutes north up Collins Ave., one of my favorite places in town. Somewhat Mediterranean influenced. Can read up and see menu at the following links -

                              , FL

                              Cafe Ragazzi Restaurant
                              9500 Harding Ave, Surfside, FL 33154

                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                Delouvier will not be back until Aug. 3 so that will most likely be a pass for me, unless I do a lunch there. I did not get to dinner until 10:00pm so I headed to Casa Tua, which is a lovely restaurant. My service was outstanding and wine pairings top-notch but I opted for the chef's tasting for $160 + $75 with pairings. I thought the price was FAR OUT OF LINE for the fare. I would probably go back one more time to order a la carte because the service was so GOOD, but at that price the level of cuisine should be FAR higher. I had a tomato burrata course that I did not eat because the tomatoes were not ripe at all and it was not taken off the bill (that was an addition to the chef's tasting). Day 2 to follow...Michy's for dinner!!

                                1. re: Molto E

                                  $160 for a tasting menu at Casa Tua?????? That's absolutely insane. Look, I haven't been to Tua because I'm not a big believer in overpriced Italian food, so I can't talk about the food, but that simply confirms my pre-judgment. That's significantly more than I've paid for tasting menus at The Modern in NY and Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Vegas (and any number of places that don't come to mind immediately) - and I can pretty much guarantee those meals were leagues better. Can you give a rundown on the rest of the menu other than the lousy tomato burrata?

                                  1. re: Frodnesor


                                    When I saw the bill and reflected on the quality of the food only, I felt that it was a total joke. This was not Manresa, TFL, Atelier, etc, but the service was outstanding and the setting was lovely...though -

                                    1st course - tuna tartare ( needed seasoning), kumamoto oyster with transmontanous caviar and grapes, squash blossom stuffed with ricotta and goat cheese paired with Bruno Paillard Rose Premiere

                                    2nd course - Seared foie gras with white polenta crostino and cherry sauce paired with Fattoria le Pupille 'Solalto'

                                    3rd course - (addition because I love burrata) Burrata with tomato salad paired with Lackner Tinnacher Gelber Muskateller ( the truth is that any chef that cut those tomatoes should have not sent them out because they were closer to an apple rather than a ripe tomato...burrata was good)

                                    4th course - Risotto di Farro with lobster and black truffle sauce paired with Massolino Barolo...interesting flavors, the piece of lobster that adorned the dish was smaller than your thumb

                                    5th course - Ravioli stuffed with Castelmagno cheese, raw celery, walnuts and green pea sauce paired with Frederic Magnieu Puligny-Montrachet

                                    6th Red Mullet with aromatic crust, grilled polenta and white asparagus paired with Casa Marin Pinor Noir

                                    7th course - (absolute joke) Cast-iron seared Wagyu with fingerling potato sause and caramelized onions paired with Il Poggiolo Brunello di Montalcino...ok, the size of the two nubs of beef were not even the size of two thumb nails and one of them had grissle thru it)

                                    Dessert - Chocolate souffle, chocolate mousse, cherry and yogurt parfait.

                                    This really was a case of "what can have a bigger effect on the diner...good service or good food"? The service was outstanding but the food was lacking. I would go back and order a la carte because one time at a restaurant is not a fair gage.

                                    Molto E

                                    1. re: Molto E

                                      Well, you can't say you weren't warned....

                                      1. re: tpigeon

                                        I still say that I would go back one more time...

                                        1. re: Molto E

                                          I just can't begin to get my head around a $160 tasting menu with thumb-bits for the high-priced proteins. For goodness sake, look at the current tasting menu for Mario Batali's Babbo in NYC:

                                          Bresaola with Fiddleheads and Pecorino
                                          “Ferentano,” Falesco 2005

                                          Pappardelle with Chanterelles and Thyme
                                          “Jurosa,” Lis Neris 2001

                                          Duck Tortelli with “Sugo Finto”
                                          Teroldego Rotaliano, Foradori 2003

                                          Grilled Lamb Loin with Favetta and Mint Pesto
                                          “Rosso d’Orsone,” Dal Fari 2000

                                          Coach Farm’s Finest with Fennel Honey
                                          Franciacorta Brut, Ca’ del Bosco NV

                                          Vanilla Bean Bavarese with Brown Butter and Laurel
                                          Vin Santo, Fattoria Montellori 199

                                          “Cioccolato e Aceto”
                                          Vin Santo di Chianti Classico, La Sala 1999

                                          Warm Apple and Walnut Budino with Cinnamon Gelato
                                          Moscato di Trani “Piani di Tufara,” Rivera 2004

                                          $75 per person *
                                          (Accompanying Wines $50 per person – As listed above)

                                          You could do that TWICE and still have change to spare! Yes, the Tua menu you described had some more luxe ingredients (caviar, lobster, truffle, lobster, wagyu beef) but it sure sounds like they're stretching them to the limit through parsimonious portioning.

                                          A la carte pricing doesn't look much kinder - apps $14-28, pastas $20-42, mains $38-55. Whole Branzino for 2 at $100? For that much the fish better jump off the plate and start swimming again!

                                          Again, give me 2 of the wood-oven roasted whole snapper at Michael's for $41 instead, and let me keep the change (never had it, actually, but our last visit we sat at the kitchen bar and salivated as we watched about a dozen of these come out of the oven during the time we were there).

                                            1. re: Molto E

                                              Just as long as you dont eat their panini's. I really like the pastas, especially the carbonara and the garganelli.

                                              1. re: tpigeon

                                                They just changed the bread. The sandwiches are now an option though I have only tried the proscuttio mozzerella which was solid.

                                            2. re: Frodnesor

                                              But if you've eaten at Babbo you might change your mind. Granted I didn't do the tasting menu but I took my wife there for her birthday and it was a top-5 meal for me. The total bill came to just under $200 after tip (She's a cheap date -- doesn't drink).

                                              There are many places here where a $100+ per person meal can be had where the food isn't worth $10.99 but for a once a year, or once in a lifetime experience, I'll fork over the money to be wowed at the table.

                                              1. re: fultonbrewing

                                                That was the point of my comparison - not that Babbo is expensive, but rather that Casa Tua is a complete ripoff relatively speaking. I have no problem with $100+ tasting menus and have little doubt that Babbo is worth it.

                                                1. re: Frodnesor

                                                  Comparing Babbo to Casa Tua is like comparing an awesome restaurant to an overpriced decent restaurant :).

                                      2. re: Molto E

                                        If you spend $160 on food at Michy's I can almost guarantee it'll top what you had at Casa Tua. Just remember, the street in fronth of Michy's is torn up. Turn left on 69th and left into the parking lot for valet. Will be there tonight for GFs b-day so I look forward to comparing meals tomorrow.

                                        1. re: lax2mia

                                          What's the deal with the valet at Michy's? You pull into a spot behind the restaurant and they charge you $10 bucks to "valet"? Insane. I always see tons of cars parked in the "off-roading" section in front of the restaurant...wonder if that is valet as well?

                                          1. re: herbage

                                            We parked ourselves. In their lot. So did others. No one said a word.

                            2. re: Molto E

                              I'd rely on any reviewer from the New Times over those from The Miami Herald. Their head reviewer is a joke. Might want to check out Sunpost as well.

                              1. re: lax2mia

                                I am wary of Sunpost - don't think I've ever seen a negative review and I suspect they're just shilling for advertisers (their politics coverage is great though). New Times at least are not afraid to be critical, though sometimes it seems to be just for the sake of relishing their own clever turn of phrase. I also think they're often lazy and fail to pay multiple visits to see whether or not their experience was representative, good or bad.

                                There's no reviewer locally who I feel their palate is completely aligned with mine, but isn't that always the case? Same is true of the Herald. Another issue is that many of the Herald's online reviews are quite old and out of date.

                                1. re: lax2mia

                                  Both critics are knowledgable though tend to be a bit pretentious when inevitably intent upon impressing our upscal residents and tourists. I wish they would visit more holes in the wall.

                                  1. re: taiga

                                    In going back and looking, I actually find that the Herald reviews are fairly conservative, at least as far as ratings go. In Miami-Dade there are only 13 restaurants which got their top, 4-star rating. Unfortunately most of those appear to be woefully out of date (a problem I previously noted - they still have reviews posted of restaurants that have been closed for years!) and there are some bizarre ones in the old group (anyone ever heard of Crabby's Smoke House in Opa-Locka?).

                                    Ignoring that issue and focusing on those that appear to have been reviewed "recently" (i.e., past few years), there are only 4 4-star restaurants: Graziano's, Michy's, Yakko-San, and Timo. Which happens to include 3 of my 5 favorite local restaurants (I'd add Talula and Michael's to my list, in no particular order - and Graziano's doesn't suck either). To my taste, at least, that's pretty good.

                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      Many thanks for all the help with info on the dining scene in Miami. I ended up trying...Casa Tua (great scene but overpriced food), Michy's ( GREAT restaurant), La Goulue for lunch ( good bistro food, steak tartare and frisee salad), Osteria del Teatro (disappointing), Sardinia (Great restaurant), Michael's Genuine (Great restaurant), Rascal House (it is what it is the corned beef and pastrami was good)...again many, many thanks...still have a lunch to go...maybe Cuban and I will be posting some pics over on the Gullet soon.

                                        1. re: mialebven

                                          eGullet...I am able to load all the pics of the meals over there.