Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Florida >
Oct 23, 2007 02:12 PM

South Beach Dining

I'll be spending some time in the Keys next month and finishing the trip with a few days in SB..around Collins and 10th. The food scene changes there frequently so I'm looking for some updates. I'll give a few I've enjoyed in the past and maybe someone can add a few..or ding a few. Probably not really wanting to break the bank..and apps at a few places is fine for dinner. No car and prefer not to travel too far; but will if there's a good reason. Probably not too interested in Italian/Asian..plenty of that in Boston.

Puerta Sagua..this and Chalan are usual stops
Chalan on the Beach
Dave's Cafe..has the original reopened?
Joe's/Take Away..always go but 1 week in the keys, I'll probably get my fill of stone crabs
Nemo..have enjoyed for years but generally go for lunch
Talula..enjoyed but wasn't blown away
Table 8..had just opened my last trip and didn't try it..should I..another new place in that same area; name escapes me...eta Vix
Prime 112..been there for a drink..didn't care for the crowded vibe
Taverna Opa..been to the 1 in if not mind blowing food

Wish..have enjoyed in the past..still good?
Johnny V's..closed? menu was ok..didn't make it to dr
Tap there late Sunday..they were out of most of the menu and we walked..worth trying?

Alta Mer..never been but remember reading good things

New names to me Sardinia? Grazianos Argentine ( worth a cab ride?) probably don't want to haul myself to Michael's Genuine....though I remember his food at the original Nemo; Michy's..again enjoyed her cooking in the past but it looks like it's a haul from SB.

Apology for throwing out a lot of names; but I'll return the favor if you're ever up this way..:)

Any comments on my list are welcome..we'll have 4 nights and try to mix it up..casual/higher end.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Good list, you've got a pretty solid idea of what your options are.

    - Not sure which David's Cafe is the original, but I believe they're all open and had just briefly closed for a day after the owner's death. If anyone knows differently, please advise.
    - Talula is one of my favorites but if it didn't do it for you, well, that happens.
    - I've had one meal at Table 8 and was not as impressed as others have been. Service seems to have become a real problem there with reservations pushed back more than an hour, etc.
    - Vix in the Victor Hotel is what you're thinking of. I went once and thought the menu read great, but the food was not as great as the menu sounded. There have been good reports here about the Indian sampler plate they were doing for Miami Spice (a city-wide summer $35 dinner special program)
    - Haven't been to Wish for a long time so can't comment. I thought it was more clever than good last time I went.
    - Johnny V's is indeed closed, and no great loss, for some reason it just wasn't nearly as good as the original incarnation several years ago.
    - I love the bar at Bouley. Lots of unique and homemade concoctions that they use including jalapeno-infused vodka (used in a drink with mango puree), rosemary-infused bourbon, homemade bitters, etc. The bar food menu was only OK. The sushi bar just got a glowing write up in New Times but the sashimi sampler plate I had was only OK.
    - Sardinia - I really enjoy this place. Great antipasti (especially the various veggies but the salumi and cheeses are nice too), some interesting pastas (including a linguine with bottarga, which is a dried tuna roe), some nice seafood dishes with fregola (like an israeli couscous).
    - Graziano's is probably the best and highest class of the various Argentine parilladas. If you're a serious carnivore this is worth doing. If you don't want to leave the beach, Liberty Parilla on the beach gets some mentions here.
    - Michael's Genuine is quite good and I'd seriously consider hopping in a cab for it, particularly if you liked Nemo.
    - Michy's is a favorite of mine but if you've done it before, you know what it is.

    There are a few other new places you haven't mentioned (DeVito's; Ouzo has moved from North Beach to South Beach) but none which I'd put over your current list.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      Ms 9 corrected me. We did like the food at Talula..:) My only complaint was that it was fairly dead the night we went; fun sitting at the bar overlooking the kitchen. Talulah seemed like the kind of place that if I lived in Miami..or Talulah was in Boston, it would be a very good local place and I'd be a regular. We don't generally hit the trendiest places at home; but when we go on vacation, we like a good mix of "local ethnic and things a little more "sceney"..but with good food and not feel like we got ripped off. Table 8 and Vix seemed to be too far into the sceney/overpriced and not delivering the goods. Granted, they had just opened. So those were nice spots to sip a cocktail..:)

      Fine line and local info is invaluable.

      1. re: 9lives

        I'd give Table 8 a shot. It can be sceney but the chef/owner is serious about his food.

        1. re: lax2mia

          Atmosphere at Table 8 is cool. Food is good, but nothing blew me away. Seemed really plain to me, thats all. Definitely not a bad experience, but with so many other options on SoBe, it gets lost in the sauce for me. Id say give it a try and come to your own conclusion.

        2. re: 9lives

          Fully agree that Talula is not the hippest place on the beach. That's probably why, as a local, I prefer it. We always sit at the kitchen bar there as well.

      2. Was just down in Miami a couple weeks ago from NYC and I grew up down there---I posted about my meal at Olivers under an original vegan post on the Fl board to report in general where I ended up eating...but anyway, thought Oliver's was excellent, have eaten there a couple times and my family goes there alot. Food was expertly prepared and prices were extremely reasonable, and portions good. It's a cool little place, and out of the chaos of the crowded touristy part of SB...Don't know why the regular posters (the same 4 or 5 names I always see don't recommend it)--it's solid good gourmet prepared--and not priced crazy like other places. It's where the locals go. Anways, here's the address: You can walk to it or cab over. It's near to Alton around 9th street, I think?
        959 West Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
        (305) 535-3050

        9 Replies
        1. re: janie

          Never even noticed it.

          The menu looks like an odd grab-bag. Even the apps run a pretty strange gamut - baked onion soup, "caribbean seafood soup," smoked salmon and brie crostini (a combination, let me note, that does not exactly sound like a match made in heaven), shrimp and brie quesadilla (what's with the seafood and brie?), thai chicken satay, escargot in roquefort butter, hummus ...

          What's good there?

          1. re: Frodnesor

            I've eaten at Oliver's several times with some older friends of mine who, when they are visiting, go there all the time, because they stay a block away on the water, and he can't walk too far (bad leg). It's shoots for a perfectly acceptable, hum-drum mediocrity, and hits it on the nose. Terrible wine list. Perhaps that's why it never gets mentioned.

            1. re: Miami Danny

              Hey Fro-Daddy>

              Oliver's is a popular spot for locals making the "West Avenue Walk of Shame" - that dreaded morning after in last night's clothes with last night's date and this morning's regrets (undies in your handbag are optional).

              Brunch items are fine. Parking is possible. The kitchen is reliable when they're not weeded. The Gourmet Carrot next door is also a good west side spot with fresh and healthy entrees, sandwiches and salads. These are not "must-sees in Sobe" but local hangs. BTW the Carrot is Kosher. Taste Bakery and GoGo around the corner are of the same ilk. All good, low key places...


            2. re: Frodnesor

              Well I wouldn't describe Oliver's as hum drum mediocrity, at all. It may not be the most nouvelle cuisine, but I found it to be fresh, flavorful, and well prepared, and at a fair price, which is frankly what I look for in a reliable place. It's become very hard to find an affordable place down there that's down downscale, and still good atmosphere, and lots of variety, and healthy options. I have had the Shrimp Scampi there with Lemon Pasta, and this past visit, I had the Salmon Scallopini with wonderfully prepared french styled vegetables, and amazing carrot potato dumpling fritters--great combination of flavors, fish cooked perfectly, and the fritter dumplings were amazing. The fresh mozzrella salad with grilled tomatoes was simple, but again, fresh, and beautifully prepared. My husband had the Spicy gulf shrimp with tortelloni which are perfect, juicy and better than any shrimp I've had at other places that charge 4x more, and these shrimp are better than the scampi shrimp, so you could put them with another pasta if so desired. Chicken marsala is excellent, and so is the Tilapia. If you're looking at that online menu, it's not accurate. You need to stop in and get a real menu, it's more condensed and described much differently. Anyway, cool atmosphere, and if it makes a difference to you, I'm a NYC chowhound, and my sister in law who lives in Paris for 25 years, and knows great food, loves the place as well, and has eaten there many times. Different strokes for different folks, guess you'll just need to try it and compare it to what you're looking for.

              I don't like trendy overpriced pretentious places, even if they do hit some high notes. This is a good place, reasonably priced, that's airy looking, and it's very clean, as well. I grew up in Miami and have lived in NYC for over 25 years, but I still approach eating down there as a local, and feel most comfortable in places that are solid, and decent value.

              Key lime tart is good, and salads are nice as well--but I'd stick with dinner entrees to give it a try.

              1. re: janie

                See that's the thing-the choice in Miami really isn't between mediocre neighborhood-only one-step-above-a-diner type places, and overpriced pretentious places. There is a happy medium of great, decently-priced finds, all over town, if you care to look for them. They have not become difficult to find, they are, however, for the most part NOT on South Beach. I would say, in all fairness, that Miami probably has as many mediocre restaurants as the next city. Oliver's is the perfect example.

                1. re: Miami Danny

                  Well, I still disagree with you about Oliver's, nothing I have had there so far I would describe in that way. What did you eat there, I am curious? And as to the great decently priced finds all over town, where are they now? I would like to know as I am back again in January for a visit, and have not seen much on this board to reflect "decently priced value". I just keep seeing the same trendy places recommended over and over again, or the more ethnic finds that Koppleman has written about in his posts.

                  I've had to have any Thai food in Miami that could begin to compare with Sripiphrai here in Queens, NY--quality or price wise, or authenticity wise. I thought the pizza at Anthony's was great, though. I've never had Chinese in Miami that could compare to what we have here in Flushing, Queens, in terms of quality or price wise, or authenticity wise, either. So, what is it that is great now there at a great price anymore. You see, I remember the days of the classic Miami restauarants, before nouvelle cuisine, when you could just get great chow there, and for great value, those places are gone, they are yesteryear, and what I continue to see over the past several years is pricey places--and not just in SB, but all over.

                  How do you define decently priced? Maybe our standards are different. I am open to anywhere in Dade or Broward for a good meal, I know my way around everywhere, I grew up there. So, please recommend some of your favorites and I will check them out.

                  1. re: janie

                    I agree with danny about olivers. I really liked it when it first opened but the best thing I can say now is that it is inconsistent. Very inconsistent.

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      We just had dinner at Sardinia for the second time, and this time it was amazing! Service was wonderful, food: clams in a saffron broth with tomato, tuna and salmon tartar, grilled prawns with pasta (the best we have ever had) and seafood paella. All very well prepared and quite flavorful. Our first visit was a bust but this dinner made up for it twice over. We will be back to sample more very soon. This is a little gem off the tourist radar.

                      1. re: dlgc

                        next time try the desserts, they are all winners except for the tiramisu which I never tried...