Underrated in Miami
I saw the thread Overrated Restaurants in Miami, and I was thinking to myself... what about the underrated ones? It seems to me that the chowhounders here speak only of new restaurants or well known restaurants. And the hole-in-the-walls that were mentioned so far aren't really hole-in-the-walls - they've been mentioned at least once in the past 5 years in some review. What about unknown hole-in-the-walls? Or the nice restaurants that almost never get mentioned?
I'll give you two examples: Madrono's in West Miami is supposed to be known as the best Nicaraguan restaurant. Hereford Grill, nobody mentions it.
And sometimes I have to look at other blogs, and far-off sources to find out other gems like La Guardia near the Design District for produce or wait for the Miami New Times to mention some weird things like a produce stand in Little Haiti for having the best produce. And in another blog, I read that the baleadas are worth trying at Honduras Maya. But do we ever mention these things? Do we ever venture out to the unknown and seemingly underground restaurant scene in Miami?
So are we just snobs for ignoring the rest of Miami? What about upper-casual restaurants that serves great food? They may not be fine dining and they may not provide unique or entertaining or unusual atmosphere that makes one love the scene. Do we just want to impress others, especially the tourists and the readers who are planning their trips here, with our knowledge of what is already known? We just point to places they "should" already know about - simply because we already know about them by living here and reading the press. It should all just be about the food, or even a dish. Come on guys... show the real foodie Miami!
Step up to the plate with your own list!
Much of this board is dominated by comments about the newer trendy places because that's what visitors are interested in, and at least they get some genuine commentary on the good, the bad and everything in between.
I've generally found folks are also typically happy to share their own little discoveries too. My own personal list would include -
- tapas at El Carajo
- chivito sandwich at El Rey de Chivito
- sushi from Sushi Deli
- Japanese tapas at Yakko-San (which I learned of from this board)
- sopa de lima at Cheen Huaye
- Gourmet Diner - never mentioned by anyone but still cranking out great French bistro food
I've also got a lengthy list of places I haven't yet visited but want to get to as a result of other CH's recommendations - BBQ Beach, Scorch, the newly renovated Jumbo's, Sang's, Orale ...
My favorite underrated local Mexican Restaurant so far in Miami is Cheen-huaye. Favorite Dish - a classic Yucatecan dish, tastes just like a classic baked and simmering pork dish that a grandmother would cook… Conchinita Pibil - tender pork marinated in recado rojo (almost like a Mexican paprika thin sauce), served over plantain leaves and covered with shredded marinated red onions.... Delish!!
15400 Biscayne Blvd, Aventura, FL 33160
Thank you for bringing this up. I read these boards daily and get tired of hearing about the same places over and over again. The other day I realized that all visitors or newcomers to Miami are missing out on some really great and different food by wanting to go only to trendy restaurants. Why not El Palacio de los Jugos or other smaller joints that sell good food? I agree with Frodnesor about El Rey del Chivito. That's a sandwich you must try and unlike any sandwich I've ever had. There's a great Colombian restaurant called La Moon on 8th street between SW 1st and 2nd Avenues -- nothing fancy but serves great food. I'd love to hear more recommendations about these types of places.
Pardo's - Peruvian rostisserie chicken place in Doral. Some of the best non-fried chicken I've had. Spiced just right and cooked so well that even the breast meat is juicy.
Well up North in my neck of the woods, I can mention Mama Mia's in Hollywood circle, even though its not the best italian, to me its pretty great. Went this past Sunday with my hsuband and another couple and they make the BEST fried mozarella. They have pretty good pizzas (flat breads) and they serve amazing portions, not to mention the huge mountain of delicious garlic rolls they give you at the beginning while you read the menu. Also in that same area, the Wine store/bar called Hollywood Vine, amazing wine and you can pick cheeses and some hams they have in the fridge, they cut them for you there. I also like Eddie Hill's for sushi, not your "pretty sushi joint" but good food. And well Scorch, great great meat.
Clarke's Miami Beach doesn't get nearly as many props as it deserves..it's not just an Irish bar, it's got great gourmet fare, original dishes like Irish Spring Rolls and amazing Montauk-style scallops..then there's the amazing mini Beef Wellington's that would make Gordon Ramsay jealous!
WHat about Hollywood Boulevard and the area around Young's circle? We were driving there today and it seemed like there were a dozen small restaurants on one block. Has anyone got a recommendation in that area besides Chinatopia, which we love?
1824 Harrison St, Hollywood, FL 33020
Luis Galindos Latin American-Cuban
La Esquina del Lechon-Venezuelan
Best Time Wine-French
Jaguar-Ceviche Spoon Bar and Latam Grill
I definitely agree with Liberty, Laurenzo's, and Enriqueta's. I don't know about Oggi...never impressed there. I would have to add Cafe Ragazzi, Le bon, Spris, and Paninoteca, Sheba ethiopian, A La Follie and Uva 69. Never feel like we include Heelsha enough in our boards either... ;-)
Barrio Latino - Cuban/Argentinia: great family style restaurant, affordable enough to eat every day, great for take home when you don't want to cook. Favorite dishes: beef empanadas, beef entrana, ropa vieja, black beans, mariquitas....
Piola - A new location opened in Hallandale beach Blvd.
Kampai - good traditional sushi place. Friendly staff, love their spicy crunchy tuna roll, their Kanisu. Some Thai dishes are also very good. Fish is always fresh.
Tiramisu on Lincoln Rd. Best price/value on Lincoln Rd. Pastas are very tasty, specials are usually very good and reasonably priced.
Cafe Ragazzi - Charming family owned (Argentinean Family) Italian restaurant. The wait is always long but you will always be offered a wine glass while you wait.
- Do not remember the name but a good place for a sandwich in the Aventura area is a little cafe at the Lobby of the washington Mutual building next to the Aventura mall (Stefanno's?)
- For healthy lunches try the place next to juice and java at the promenade shops in Aventura (Do not recall the name). Great salads and juices.
- Il Migliori: Italian. Miami Gardens in Aventura. Try their chicken liver, chicken al "matone", their burrata, pasta w/mushrooms, tomato soup.
- Etzel Itzik for israeli food on 18757 W. Dixie Hwy. Aventura
- Manhattan Bakery for arepas, empanadas and cachapas.
- Locatel pharmacy in Hallandale Beach Blvd. to get Tequenos, fresh venezuelan quesos (chesses such as queso Guayanes, nata and telita), pan de bono and tres leches (yes, it is a pharmacy, but they sell all these goods as well). Also, if you want to cook with the BEST dark chocolate ever you can buy it there, is called "Chocolate del Rey Gran Saman" 70%.
Cafe Ragazzi Restaurant
9500 Harding Ave, Surfside, FL 33154
Barrio Latino Restaurant
3585 North East 207 Street, Miami, FL 33180
Kampai Japanese Restaurant
3575 NE 207th St, Miami, FL 33180
721 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Locatel Health & Wellness
1715 E Hallandale Beach Blvd, Hallandale, FL 33009
To have Tiramisu on an underrated list is ridiculous. It is not the best price/value on lincoln road either.
The following are better price/values on lincoln road
Argentinian bakery between altamar and fanucci
Books & Books
For me Titamisu cannot go on the same list as Spris, Pashas, Paninoteca or Pizza Rustica, I go to Tiramisu to spend a nice time with friends and have a complete dinner experience. I would go to Pizza rustica, pasha or paninoteca for a quick meal. I went to Le Bon once, not my type pf place (not my husband's prefer food) and VERY expensive compared to Tiramisu..., I can get 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and a dessert at tiramisu for like $70 and at le bon you pay at least $90 if not more.
Have not been to Fanucci or Rosinella, I can give them both a try!
I agree that you cannot compare them on price, but I would not classify Le Bon as underrated.....their fish entrees are all price in the high 20 and their meets in the high 30...Appetizer escargot $16 is expensive, ok, they have truffle oil and come from Belgium, but it is expensive. Maybe it is a place to go to taste their beers, have their mussels and French fries, is not what I tried when I went, and I do not think I would go again. If I'm going to spend $100 for a dinner I would choose some other place.
Tiramisu cheap pasta?, pasta is cheap OK, but is a nice Italian restaurant, good salads and I have eaten good meat entrees as well. Maybe I would not make a special trip to Lincoln road to eat there, but if I'm spending the day there I would definitely eat in there and do not feel I'm overpaying.
Le Bon depends a lot on how you order. The beat the clock special (1/2 kg of mussels and fries for $9.50) is a fantastic deal. Regular menu prices, especially for entrees, can be quite expensive.
And there is a certain logic to comparing Le Bon and Tiramesu, even if they're not quite the same type of place - they have the same owners (also Spris). Food is reliably decent at Tiramesu but I agree I wouldn't go out of my way to go there.
I do not know if there is another Manhattan Bakery, but the one that I mentioned is located in NMB:
18240 Collins Ave
Sunny Isles Bch, FL 33160
Personally, I think that European Corner is far better than Manhattan Bakery. Their Cachapas, tequenos, arepas and chicha are much better. I think their cheese selection is the same (they both sell the same brand). Regarding prepared hot food, have not try either, so cannot say.
Collins Ave, FL, USA, Collins Ave, FL
"For healthy lunches try the place next to juice and java at the promenade shops in Aventura (Do not recall the name). Great salads and juices."
I think you must be talking about Juice and Java itself. On either side of the restaurant are an eyeglass store and an Israeli clothing store. Juice and Java does have good juices and some of their dishes are really delicious, like the brown rice plate, in addition to being healthy.
I didn't know the Locatel sold tequenos and the like; will have to check it out.
As for El Rey chocolates, you can also find them at Whole Foods market. Many people don't realize that although lots of great chocolates come from Europe, the cocoa is often originally from SA (especially Vzla and Colombia) and there is some very good chocolate being produced there as well. El Rey is a great brand and, yes, I think underrated in the US.
re: diablita FL
I think you are right about the Juice and Java, after I posted it I then realized that maybe that is the actual place I was thinking about, but I do not know why the name did not ring a bell... Also, one of their employees left and open a very similar place I miami gardens in a strip mall (I think is called keystone) called Julios ( I think), also very good but the service is horrible...
I also saw el Rey at wholefoods, have not compare prices with Locatel, but the second has very good prices in general.
Just recently ate at Julio's. They have a juice with coconut milk and mango that is out of this world! We actually had a wonderful server, but were crammed into a corner and he was pulled in a million directions. Frenetic to say the least!
And I will definitely check out that Locatel. Whole Paycheck's prices are almost always higher for everytthing. My grandmother is in Hallandale (aren't they all?) and I will be sure to take her there next time I visit.
re: diablita FL
Get also a tres leches at Locatel, my sister told me she bought one the other day and that is was delicious!
I will try the juice that you mentioned, I love both cocnut and mango so that works for me...., good that you had a good server, I have always sitted outside and the last time we were there the service was soooo bad that my friends decided to leave no tip...I felt so bad for the lady... but imagine how bad she served us....
La Palme D'Or (in the Biltmore Hotel)
Why does nobody ever mention this place? It has one of the best chef/sommelier teams in ALL of south florida. I guess the atmosphere is a bit stuffy, but the food and the wine program are more than enough to make up for it. And anyway, its not like the place is a stick in the eye. Its just not nobu (whatever that means).
Am I the only one who really, really likes this restaurant? Of all the great restaurants in Miami, this is one of the top 3. But it never gets mentioned on this forum. Anybody got any thoughts on it?
ps: Madrono's is incredible. I didn't know it was highly rated, though. The place is clean, fresh, and cheap. If you go for lunch, you can get some incredible deals. Get the carne asada and then an app of fried cheese. The owner is always in there watching over the cash register. The weirdest part about that place is where its located. You would never guess such a nice place was in such a run down looking strip mall (unless you grew up in miami).
I will add a couple more:
- Cafe Pastis: Small French bistro close to sunset place. It has been a while that I have been there (too far for me), but I remember the food to be very good and prices more than fair.
- European Corner. Is a venezuelan bakery also close to sunset place. They even sell Hayacas (like a venezuelan tamale, filled with chicken/pork/beef with almonds, olives, etc) during Xmas time!
7310 SW 57th Ave, South Miami, FL 33143
5889 SW 73rd St, Miami, FL
Speaking of chocolates, how does it compare with Romanicos? I think Romanicos Chocolates on Coral Way deserves a mention. I'm not sure if it's underrated but it is not often mentioned. It is widely known though, but they serve chocolates various chocolate drinks. They're now serving cold chocolate drinks with a mix of flavorings like coconut, passion fruit or raspberry, which I think is a plus on the summer months. It has consistently been in the top 10 best listings and the prices are very economical.
But now that Jimmie's was mentioned, I better check it out!
Romanicos-The Chocolate Shop
1801 Coral Way, Miami, FL 33145
My list of underrated place isn't that long as I'm consistently looking for them and I've only moved to Miami last year. But here it is:
Choice Cafe - Korean
Royal Thai - Thai
Nuevo Siglo - Cuban
Garden of Eatin - Vegetarian/Vegan
Off the Grille - Latin/American fusion - simple fare (?)
(word of this - the quality of everything here isn't top notch, but their plantain chips might be better than even Havana Harry's and steak for a low price - unless if they raised it recently - is a bargain. Quick, bistro style food that will more than fill you up is hard to come by in Miami).
Magnum Lounge - American (expensive), interesting old "Cheers" v. romantic ambience. Price can be made to think it goes to the ambience and live piano acts to make your bill feel lighter (mentally speaking).
Tinta y Cafe - Cuban coffeeshop a la comfort American style (indoor seating/lounging, cold coffee drinks, etc).
Mojitos - Cuban. I actually like this one, but I know it can be a contentious issue. But for Versailles prices, good food with nicer, trendier plating, I think this one is a good standby to have.
Honduras Maya - Honduran - for cheap fare, you have to try their baleadas - the cheese ones were salty since Latin American cheeses tend to be salty, but try the other stuffings. They also have a full menu.
Choice Cafe of Miami
2750 NW 3rd Ave Ste 26, Miami, FL 33127
Royal Thai Restaurant
10648 Fontainebleau Blvd, Miami, FL 33172
1305 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
Garden of Eatin
136 NW 62nd St, Miami, FL 33150
Off the Grill Cafe Bistro
12578 SW 88th St, Miami, FL 33186
709 NE 79th St, Miami, FL 33138
Tinta Y Cafe
276 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33130
Mojitos Cuban Cuisine
11401 NW 12th St Ste 502, Miami, FL 33172
Honduras Maya Restaurant
69 NW 27th Ave, Miami, FL 33125
Nice call on Magnum, haven't been in a while. The owner used to have a wonderful place on Lincoln Road called Jeffrey's which he closed a few years ago and moved to presumably much lower rent spot on 79th St.
By the way, it hardly qualifies as bargain eats, but Marky's across the street has a great selection of caviars and lots of other luxe items, as well as an interesting Russian market.
Good call on Tinta y Cafe. I had lunch there this week and ordered their special of oxtail with rice and plantains ($9.75). The oxtail was great, tasted homemade. They actually don't make it there, but order it from a Peruvian guy. In any event, it was good. I also like their decor and their sandwich selection. On Saturdays, they have parrilla.
I got to say I am miffed by all this jibberin and jabberin about price/value/economical/bargain etc on this post. Since when does that equate with "underrated". I fail to see the connection...underrated means not appreciated or not highly rated, no? That could fall into any price category IMHO.
That being said, I guess I should offer a few.
Once highly revered, now underrated:
Normans...so underrated it closed!
La Locanda (Meatsauce)
Shuckers (special grilled wings and a $1,000,000 view)
News Cafe has some great dishes. Eggs Smoked Salmon (Benedict style) is a phenomenal breakfast/brunch dish. Fruit and Yogurt is another nice b-fast dish as is their Bagel and Nova. Their salads are very well done. The middle eastern is solid. Even the pasta that IS NOT aldente is fresh, well, the one with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil...the aglio olio is decent too. And where else can you have a Chocolate Foundue at midnight featuring a freak show and a seabreeze?
La Locanda doubled their prices? Well then, I liked it a lot better back then too! Thanks for the update TP. Have you been back to the Italian joint on Alton & 17th next to Masters?
Three more to add to the list...
Lazeez Asian Cuisine - Pakistani
Layali Miami - Lebanese / Middle Eastern
Rinconcito Paisa - Colombian
9700 SW 24th St Ste E, Miami, FL 33165
11402 NW 41st St Ste 115, Doral, FL 33178
Lazeez Asian Cuisine
13919 SW 66th St, Miami, FL 33183
tequenos and pan con queso at Panna Express, the big Exxon station in Westonzuela
Lily's Italian restaurant in Boca Raton
Asaka for sushi and apps in the Promenade shops in Aventura (we think their fish is fresher than Kampai/Fuji Hana)
Middle Eastern Delights - delicious Lebanese food in a small storefront in Delray Beach on US-1, just south of Linton. You feel like you're walking into your Lebanese Auntie's kitchen and she'll have you sit down and feed you a huge, delicious meal. The mujadarrah is unbelievable, as are the usual suspects like hummus, babaganoush, etc
Sunrise Pita for delicious felafel and Israeli pickles in Sunrise on University (kosher, so not open on Shabbat)
Bissaleh for mouth watering Yemenite savory pastries (bissalehs and burekas) and their lemonade with mint.
I went to another place that I think was underrated - since I could only find one review online for it - Portobello restaurant in Coral Way (near 28th Avenue). Admittingly, I've only had little from the restaurant to eat, but from the acclaims of the friends I had around me, it was good, and from what little I had, it was good. On top of that, it's affordable even for dinner, and they serve good size portions of Italian food. The Venezuelan family that owns the establishment has been in business for 8 years.
2841 SW 22nd Ave, Miami, FL 33133
It is so hard to find a really good sushi restaurant, especially when most of the restaurants here mix it up with either THAI or CHINESE. Stay clear of these places as they are definitely not authentic. The best sushi all around in Miami, local Japanese go here and celebrities are known to pass by as well. MATSURI is a 100% Authentic Japanese restaurant specializing in fresh SASHIMI and SUSHI. They even have a Japanese menu for the truly authentic crowd. If you rather have a cheap and quick meal, head down to the Japanese Market on 79th street, its a Japanese Market but they have a little sushi counter. 100% authentic and Japanese owned. Alot of people talk about Yakko san's. Couple years ago it was soo much better when the chefs were Japanese. I went there recently and the hole place changed alot. Its still good if you want to have some DIFFERENT japanese food but if you truly love sushi and authentic Japanese, head to the restaurants I mentioned.
I've been going to Yakko San for a couple years and it's always been the same chefs, and while the menu was updated a bit about half a year ago I've not noticed much change at all in the quality of the food (though they did drop a few of my favorite items). Just in case it was not clear from the prior post, Yakko San does sashimi items but does not do nigiri or maki (sushi on rice or sushi rolls).
The place on 79th Street mentioned in the post above is called Sushi Deli.
I have heard Matsuri is temporarily closed for remodeling.
One footnote! Matsuri doesn't always treat its non-Japanese customers as well as its Japanese! You are liable to get miso shiro served first with a spoon if your not careful. One suggestion: never go with anyone who sits at the counter and asks for a bagel roll unless your ready for a laugh!
yakko san changed chefs and part of the group went over to oishi. the food is still pretty good though. I'm surprised no one has ever mentioned Peppers for chinese food - they do a traditional chinese hot pot and it's an all you can eat deal. you really should try it.
other underrated spots that i have found are mahogany grille over in carol city area, rustic inn for crab, and for sheer quantity of food, casola's when you're coming back from a night out.
15400 Biscayne Blvd, Aventura, FL 33160
El Rinconcito in Hialeah (sw 56 street) - Excellent Mofongo with chicharrones
La Camaronera - Fried Shrimp sandwich on cuban bread - YUM!!
Salmon & Salmon, Peruvian, NW 7th St in Miami. Tiny, crowded, and get ready to be ignored, but great ceviche etc.
Fox's, South Miami. Miami Liquor license #2 if I'm not mistaken- a little history & character that Miami is sorely lacking. Dark & cramped but good comfort food, try the fried snapper, french onion soup, & thumb (beef filet) bits. Who else has a "dieter's plate" that consists of a hamburger patty, sliced tomato, and cottage cheese? And paneling!
Fox's had the best slider's at one point... Haven't been there in years though. After a certain hour you used to be able to get them for $1. Is that deal still around? You used to also get 2 for 1 drinks after 11:00 pm on Saturday nights. Been dying to take my husband there for quite some time and it always slips my mind.
My dad took me there for happy hour sliders about 20 years ago, I remember going back about 10 years ago and they still had them, but I don't know about now.
Went back last night to put $ where mouth was, the menu is the same, but items looked and tasted different when they came out. Thumbits were good, but not as good, croutons were inferior, French onion was ok, not great, but wifey say dieter's plate was same as ever, that's going back 15 years.
Waiter was drunk and distracted, choco mousse was same as ever as well, martini was poorly made.
Same old Fox's, just not quite as good.
Miami has turned into more of a cosmopolitan city and with that the incessant need to 'keep up with the Joneses' as far as eating at the latest froo froo restaurant. Problem is that by the time you are there eating it's too late. You're paying for bragging rights basically, being able to say you at at so and so.. often at the mercy of waiting staff that think they own the place and are doing you a favor by even acknowledging your presence. The overpriced menu and subsequent hefty, unmerited bill just adds insult to injury. Trendy smendy. I'd much rather eat at a less flashy mom and pop establishment where its the food and service that matters. I'll give the topic of Underated in Miami some thought and get back to you..
I hate to agree with sunkissed, especially after almost 2 years later, but after thinking long and hard I cannot think of 1 underated eating establishment in this area. Yes, there are the mom and pops, the hole-in-the-wall restaurants, etc. that can't be under/over-rated since they don't get the publicity. I am not referring to these. But in regard to big names, I just can't think of one. As someone who grew up in SOFLA and currently live here as an adult, you got me there. That being said, there are I think many good big-name restaurants, but underrated? So much of our area restaurants are seriously hyped, many times setting the eater up for disappointment, unfortunately. If I change my mind I'll let you know, but please don't wait.
Le P'titParis on Commodore Plaza and Main Highway is underrated for sure. Food is always good, sometimes exceptional, Sophisticated look. If you haven't been there recently they have a new chef who knows his stuff although I miss some of the old sandwiches. Knocks the severely overrated Bouchon du Grove out of the box. Prettier, cleaner and the servers don't work at having the French waiter attitude.
Don't forget Miami Juice in Sunny Isles. Their all natural and organic menu is fabulous and the selection of juices is incredible. MJ's rice and the fresh fruit bowl are off the chain. Very good salmon too. Great place to people watch. They're not a chain and they've been around for over 10 years.
Dragon City - Chinese food (opens extremely late and cheap)
Panya - Best Thai food
6708 Stirling Rd, Hollywood, FL 33024
Noor's Bakery great selection or Zaatar breads all freash out of the oven and made to order $1.25 to $2.50
La Piazza While overpriced for what it is They still have great veal chops and the best Gnocchi anyone has ever had including grandma's.
Argentango... Still the best skirt steaks around
El Tamarindo The best Coal Fired Pizza in town must have the Broccoli Rabe and sausage... Also must try their flan! The big one on State Road 84 doesn't have an oven go to the one in Hallandale on Atlantic!
Agree on Dragon city too ...ask for chinese menu
Nacho Bizness The Korean pulled BBQ pork taco is to die for! food truck set up weekdays for lunch 1915 SW 1st Ave Fort Lauderdale