Where are the great downtown Miami lunches?
I haven't been able to find much good food to eat for lunch in downtown Miami. Thus far, I have liked Sedici Cafe on NE 3rd Ave (great truffle cookies!), La Loggia on Flagler St, and (not exactly downtown) Manhattan Cafe on NE 14th St for their chicken salad. Anyone have any good recommendations?
Try Bin No. 18 for sandwiches/salads just north or Manhattan Cafe. Cafe Bali on 2nd for Longtong Cap Go Meh. Stoupsy's for chicken kabobs. Prime Blue Grill at One Miami for seafood risotto. Northern spareribs or pin rice soup at PF Changs (I know, I know, don't kill me) near Perricones, good burgers at Union Square Cafe (at Wachovia Tower), reasonably priced lunch buffet at Intercontinental Hotel.
Ok, here's a big secret Chowhound place:
Elie's Kosher Cafe - (786) 594-0196
145 East Flager Street, 2nd floor
best damn falafel, humus, and fried israeli eggplant in FL and the US. They have it right. Ask for their hot sauce and call ahead to order. They are slow. I don't eat meat, but baby chicken seems to be their most popuar dish. The only thing is the pita is unresponsive.
re: Nutritious Jane
Currently digesting an Eli's lunch of falafel platter. Falafel is outstanding, hummus is outstanding, eggplant is unlike any eggplant I have ever had. Lightly breaded and deep fried to a golden state and seasoned with salt. Very good. Service is a mess, be prepared for a wait. It really doesn't matter though, since the food is so good.
Re. a few of the places mentioned here:
Lila's Bistro closed downtown and re-opened over a year ago in the Gables (on Ponce). It's now called Mama Lila's Bistro, and it's terrific. Many of the old Lila's dishes are on the menu, but the sisters who run it are adding fun new food and amenities (like live music, and wine tastings, and special holiday parties, some nights). I think they're energized by a location in which they can be more successful. (Downtown's a hard sell for eateries that are doing something original, in a more gentrified setting, even when prices are extremely reasonable like Lila's. One of the sisters told me that it actually worked against them there that they made all their own salad dressings! Diners were suspicious... I guess downtown has so many greasy spoons where you don't want to even think about conditions in the kitchens that it was hard to believe anyplace could be different.)
And re. Raja's: When I stopped in to talk to the owners a few months ago (after an ad guy at a newspaper I write for told me the place was folding... most alarming, because where else in town can you get great dosai?), they said yeah, they were closing but only temporarily. They hadn't had a vacation in years, so were taking the destruction of the old building as an opportunity to take off some time, but they both said they're definitely planning on re-opening somewhere in downtown. They were looking at a spot near caribbean delight, actually.
Re: Mama Lila's Bistro - somebody please help me understand what I'm missing about this place. We ventured up Ponce to try it last week, based on recollections of hearing something good on this board (and, I now suspect, in the often unreliable New Times).
The lunch menu was a peculiar grab-bag - quesadilla, "bistro" salad, oriental noodle stir-fry, tilapia (what's good about this fish, by the way?), chicken club sandwich ... somewhat befuddled by the unconnected smorgasbord, we split a special portobello and goat cheese quesadilla for the table, and I went with a soup (the regular soup from the menu, an somewhat intriguing-sounding jalapeno/chicken/cheddar soup, was unavailable, so went with the special, a potato leek), and BLT sandwich - figuring, you can't mess up with a BLT, right?
Umm, well, there's a first for everything I suppose. The soup was bland and nondescript (a potato leek soup I had a day earlier at Les Halles down the street would have knocked its socks off). The BLT, inexplicably, was served on soft, untoasted cuban bread, such that the bread made up 3/4 of the volume of the sandwich. With limp, out-of-a-bag greens to boot. How can you possibly screw up a BLT, I ask you? The quesadilla - which I get to last, because, well, that's when it was brought to the table, well after our sandwiches - was OK. Much like something I might make at home as a lazy weekend lunch.
Did I mention that this fine sandwich set me back something like $10+? With absolutely nothing to accompany it? Not even a chip? Or a pickle?
Sensing some unhappiness, our server comped us a dessert, a slice of some moist white cake with super-sweet frosting and dulce de leche to boot. A nice gesture (and the folks there were nothing but friendly), but it hardly made up for the food.
This was one of these meals where you come away saying "I'll never get that hour back; I'll never get those calories back." What am I missing?
Its been some time since Ive been in downtown for lunch, but I used to do Stoupsy's and La Loggia occassionally. There was a place across from Courtyard Marriott that wasnt bad buffet either. Regatti's has the BEST bacon, egg, & cheese sandwich in the history of bacon, egg, & cheese sandwiches. Another place that is great and very affordable is the Sky Grill(?) in the BoA building. Lots of variety and good prices.
Downtown Miami is not the best place for a foodie, but please do not give up. La Loggia on Flagler is great. The Premier Wine Bar on North Miami Avenue is fantastic. Great wine list with Salad Creations on First Street. Lila's Bistro has a great burger. For healthier fare Granny Feel Goods on Flagler. Turkey meat loaf is fab there. Los Ranchos in Bayside. Bali Cafe Indonesian on NE First Street. Taste of Bombay. A little farther north in the Design District is Sheba's Ethiopian on North Miami Avenue. Micheals, Charcuterie and "A". There are more I will post later. Gotta get to a meeting!
Downtown Miami is filled with lunchtime adventure... Not sure your starting point, but you can walk or Metromover to most of my picks from mid-Flagler Street.
River Oyster Bar - 650 S Miami Ave, (305) 530-1915
We often dine at the bar and enjoy the burgers and fish sandwiches. The BBQ pork was great and then terrible but you can roll the dice on that one. They kept the Miami Spice idea all year and offered a 3 course set menu at lunch for $20 that is great. Nice Happy Hour deals/ fresh oysters too.
Next door is
Tobacco Road 626 S Miami Ave (305) 374-1198
Which is surely underrated on this board. The back patio deck is among my favorite GREAT ESCAPES in Downtown. The smoked turkey club sammie is a big belly buster, the fried fish sandwich a strong new addition to the menu. The burgers/grilled chix and fries are always good. Check the board for daily specials. They offer your choice of fries or caesar salad as a side - both are good.
Miami hounds Love to LOoOove Garcia Seafood Grille 398 NW North River Dr, (305) 375-0765
which I think is as grungy as they get but if you're not bothered by the grit, it is definitely a Miami tradition. The dining dock faces a bleak strip of the Miami River and the local's favorite grilled fish sandwich is longer on taste and shorter on fish than you'd expect (on a recent visit, the "legendary sandwich" featured a piece of fish the size and texture of a pad of yellow post-its...). I still visit once in a while to get that Miami Vice riverfront vibe.
South of the River, I like Perricone's 15 Se 10th St, (305) 374-9449
a quick and cheap Mexi fix at Baja Fresh 1010 S Miami Ave, (305) 523-2393
Thai/sushi lunch specials at Sushi Siam 801 S Bayshore Dr, (305) 579-9944
burgers and beers at Gordon Biersch 1201 Brickell Ave, (786) 425-1130
calamari or a burger at the bar at Capital Grille - 444 Brickell Ave, (305) 374-4500
fresh med-pita pockety stuff at Pashas 1414 Brickell Ave, (305) 416-5116
Rosinella Downtown (pastas) 1040 S Miami Ave, (305) 372-5756
In the hot and fragrant heart of Downtown,
La Loggia is really the nicest sit-down lunch spot 68 W Flagler St, (305) 373-4800
for Spanish food - Navarre 353 SE 2nd Street.
I second that emotion for Stoupsy's Thursday eggplant special 350 SE 1st St, Miami, 33131 - (305) 372-3663 (a vegetarian Greek-style scooped and stuffed half eggplant topped with feta and parmesean) Call and ask Leon to hold you an order as they often sell out.
Next door - That Old Time Pizza Inc 360 SE 1st St
Across the street - Premios Deli 1 SE 3rd Ave (decent made-to-order sandwiches best pressed on the grill. Friendly staff and owner who try VERY hard to please).
Bali Cafe 109 NE 2nd Ave (305) 358-5751
is everyone's favorite spot for Indonesian food and simple sushi preparations. We hit a MAJOR pothole there last week when we discovered they used prepared chicken patties (the stuff of McNuggets!) in a grilled chicken dish. I brought a friend for lunch and he was horrified at the limp, chicken flavored sponge they presented. My warning is to stick to the top-of-the-menu fish (chili or yellow curry is my favorite).
I hesitate to mention that across the street is a BRAND NEW deli run by a husband and wife team (he is a Turkish architect and she is Japanese). The menu is super simple grilled panini sandwiches and salads but he is making his own soups and they are delicious. Please don't tell anyone because I hoped to keep this one all to myself. Pesen’s Breads & Paninis 106 NE 2nd Ave (305)371.4370
Raja's Indian (steam table Indian) 33 Ne 2nd Ave, (305) 539-9551 is marked "closed for vacation" but we were told by the owners the building will be torn down this year. A big loss.
Soya & Pomodoro (funky Italian, fun Thursday night parties) 120 Ne 1st St, (305) 381-9511 is also a little on the grungy side - a matter made worse by the heat index in Downtown summertime. The eggplant parm is nice as are some daily specials. If you ask - they will undercook the salmon dish - do order and do ask.
I like the vegetarian salad with feta and apples and the seafood bisque at Premier Wine Club (light lunch, evening wine tastings) 145 N Miami Ave, (305) 416-5187
There is a 99 cent taco stand behind Walgreens on Miami Avenue called Burrito Express. 27 N Miami Ave (305) 416-0019 Not for the faint of heart (and I eat EVERYTHING) - if you prefer your Mexi air conditioned, Aguacates 2 (also casual mex) under ROSS dress for less is OK in a pinch - 100 S Biscayne Blvd (305) 381-9628
Finally - a big shout out to Habibi Mediterranean Grill. 93 SE 2nd Street, for their spicy fish and the Med combo platter (in veggie or meat). This is "the little place that could" - started out slow and has gained a following. It's located off-street in an alley near Lila's Bistro (good) and Garuda Indonesian (meh)...
Downtown Miami is not a mecca for good, chowish food. Hopefully, things are changing for the better. Stoupsies is good and on Thursday they have a very good eggplant special. Habibi is good for Middle Eastern. Cafe Nosh has a huge menu and good food. Their soups are very good and their baked chicken is delicious. There's an Indonesian restaurant at 109 NE 2nd Ave that's supposed to be very good (I can't remember the name). We're trying it today. La Loggia is very good, but a little too pricey for my "everyday" lunch. Upstairs in Macy's they have a buffet. Sometimes it's better than others. There are some good choices on the menu. Rigatti's on SW 1st St (another Italian owned by Argentinians) has good salads and daily specials. Their pasta is good, but oversauced. If you request it less saucy it's not a problem. The owners are very nice. If you discover anything new and interesting, please post.
I actually didn't like Soya e Pomodoro. I went for dinner on a supposedly hip Thursday night with live music acts. The service was dumbfoundingly slow, the food very mediocre, the portions small and prices high. It's as if they're expecting to cater to the South Beach crowd that may just happen to live in downtown Miami - but it doesn't work for me.
Has anyone tried Burrito Loco in downtown Miami for Mexican/Peruvian?
Soya & Pomodoro - We really wanted this dining experience to be a good one because the decor was so charming and unique. Unfortunately, we’ll never go back, although it is only a few blocks from our work. The soy burger had zero flavor, even for a vegetarian. I asked for ketchup to liven up the flavor, and the waiter rudely responded, “NO!” We then had to douse our burgers in oil and vinegar to make them edible. After multiple requests, our Dixie cups were not refilled with water. The hard baguettes scratched our roofs of our mouths. When we asked for separate checks, the waiter informed us that their machine had suddenly failed. Definitely NOT recommended, save your money.