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Dinner out in South Beach - where to go?

My boyfriend and I are vacationing in South Beach this coming week and are really looking forward to some good eating and hoping not to fall into the generic, away from home, overhyped tourist pitfalls that people on vacation in warm places seem to experience.
Can anyone recommend some solid choices for dinners out & about? We're stay on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach at the Anglers resort and something within walking distance (or a short cab ride) is optimal...

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  1. This is probably the most frequently asked question on this board and there are a ton of suggestions here for places to eat in South Beach. It would be very helpful if you could (1) review prior postings and perhaps ask more focused questions about particular places, or at least (2) give some hints as to types of food, budget, ambience, etc. that you're interested in.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      That's fair. I browsed posts extensively but don't have enough of a grasp on neighborhoods, what is within walking distance (yes - I've looked at a map too, but this being my first time there, its difficult to appreciate what those 'hoods are really LIKE)...we're looking for cozy or hip ambiance and nothing too formal or frosty...we're looking for seafood and ethnic though open to all...really, I'm interested in local or savvy traveller recommendations based on quality of food and experience and find that it usually suits just fine. Sorry to be so general...
      I've heard mixed reviews re: the restaurant at the Anglers, btw. Some say excellent, others say nothing special.

      1. re: nycreba

        Places I would go in walking distance
        Azur - the people who don't like it are wrong.
        Tuscan steak
        Tap Tap - though I haven't been in a while and a recent report was not so great...
        Nemo
        Prime 112
        Joes stone crab
        Marks
        Alta Mar - cab ride

        1. re: tpigeon

          These are all solid suggestions although most are not what I would consider ethnic except for Tap Tap (Haitian) and some like Joe's are a far cry from cozy. That being said, you would probably regret coming to SoBe during stone crab season (Oct-May) and not partaking in a meal at Joe's. Its a local experience thats hard to match anywhere else in the country.

        2. re: nycreba

          I have not come across any negative posts or reviews regarding Maison d'Azur. Not saying they don't exist just haven't seen any.

          I would recommend checking out the lounge area at Table 8. That portion is intimate and hip. I've had a couple good meals there.

          I would also recommend Alta Mar for seafood/pasta. It's not hip but the inside is cozy. A locals place that is consistently very good.

          I would also consider Macaluso's if you are in the mood for NY Italian. Great meatballs. It passes the cozy/hip test.

          If you are willing to sacrifice cozy and hip I would go to Sardinia. Food is excellent

          If you are in the mood for Sushi, hit Bond St. Hip, cozy and good.

          Walk to Le Sandwicherie for a casual lunch
          or Puerta Sagua if you want Cuban food.
          and don't forget to grab some stone crabs at Joe's, Lunch at the take out section works fine

          1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

            Sardinia is kind of hip. It has a good crowd but is kind of far and if you don't know to walk to publix to get a cab can be a bit of a pain in the neck to go to. Obviously, I agree with your comments on the food. I think they are the 2nd best italian on the beach on a pure food basis and may be my favorite restaurant in miami overall given price, diversity, etc...

            Bond st is a good idea too but, the poster is from nyc which has much better sushi than sobe. If they eat at the great nyc places, they are bound to be disappointed...

            1. re: tpigeon

              We went to Sardinia last Saturday and enjoyed the food a lot; great charcuterie plate, sweetbreads, branzino, veal milanese,and suckling pig. I sampled everything and everything was very good. Service was a little rushed but we enjoyed it..and well priced for the quality. Seated right away at 8...got busier as the night went on.

              We stayed close to the Angler's Club. If you like to walk, and we do; just enjoying the art deco architecture....and walking without sloshing through snow is a treat that I now miss..:)..I'd suggest walking up Collins, left on Lincoln Rd..walk the mall and grab a cab from the west end of the mall..short cab ride. We got a ride but I'd have cabbed it home.

      2. that all being said the restaurant at your hotel is great.

        1. When you say seafood and ethnic in Miami, right away I think of Peruvian. And for that you gotta hop a cab and head over the water to Miami and Coral Gables..

          Salmon Salmon is a casual (in atmosphere not cost) and very cozy (less than 40 seats I'm guessing) gem serving high-end seafood and assorted Peruvian specialties such as: Arroz Chaufa (Peruvian fried rice), great ceviches (try the Pulpo(Octopus)) and for the meat lovers, Lomo Saltado or Marino (tips of skirt steak in a creole sauce with or without assorted seafood (shrimp, calamari, fish). I usually get the Marino, the Peruvian version of surf and turf.

          As an appetizer I love is their Chicharron Mixto (lightly breaded/fried fish and calamari pieces (you can also add shrimp)) which IMHO is the best in Miami. Its so good I have even made a whole meal of it with some Cristal or Pilsen (Peruvian beer) to quench the thirst:). End the meal with one of their flans and an expresso so you can party til the wee hours (gotta burn those calories amigo) back at one of our great clubs on the Beach.

          A more upscale atmosphere and locale can be found at Francesco's in Coral Gables. They do a lot of the same dishes as Salmon Salmon but with more of a "gourmet" spin I would say. Fellow hounds on this board usually have very high opinions of their menu and food. I personally have only been there for lunch on a couple of occassions and have dined well, although I prefer Salmon Salmon (its that fried fish, what can I say, I'm a country boy at heart :).

          Either way you will not be disappointed and will have satisfied your craving for seafood and ethnic, Miami style via Peru. The cab rides are not so long that they will spoil your appetites either:). Plus you will get a chance to see more of our area than the touristy beach strip(s).

          Enjoy your visit and Buen Provecho!

          8 Replies
          1. re: eatnbmerry

            Thank you! I'll report back but I see Salmon Salmon in our future...

            1. re: eatnbmerry

              I've heard decent things about El Chalan which is Peruvian on South Beach, I think around 15th St. Haven't been so I'm not vouching for it personally.

              NYCReba - South Beach is fairly easy to navigate and to gauge distances. The heart of it runs from 5th St. on the south end to 17th on the north (though the "SoFi" or South of Fifth area runs - yes, this is probably pretty obvious - south to 1st St. and includes several restaurants like Joe's, Nemo ...). There are also some outlyers north of 17th including Nobu, Bond St., Talula, also Sardinia which is both north and west. The main North-South streets are Ocean Drive, Collins Ave. and Washington Ave., all "short blocks" apart. Lincoln Road, another area with a lot of restaurants, run E/W just parallel to 17th St.

              Mrs. F's walking range is about 5 blocks but your mileage may vary. I don't think that 5th to 17th is more than 2 miles total but that's just a guess.

              -----
              Chalan On the Beach
              1580 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

              1. re: Frodnesor

                I would not call chalan cozy or hip :).

                1. re: tpigeon

                  Though it is seafood and ethnic. Not sure how cozy or hip Salmon Salmon is either. Francesco's I might call cozy. Not hip.

                  I did like Maison d'Azur but there's nothing terribly Miami about it - not even the seafood, much of which is flown in.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    Frod,

                    How much cozier do you want than Salmon Salmon's space? I agree they are maybe not hip, as in not a current "in" spot that attracts the Paris Hilton types (although in the past I have run into a number of local celebs such as A-Rod, Andy Garcia, etc.).

                    However, more importantly, they are "hip" food wise to locals (which is what I thought NYC was looking for). Just serving great seafood and peruvian dishes everyday as they have been for at least the ten plus years I've been going.

                    As to the Chalan on the Beach I have not been either, but if its similar to the El Chalan on Bird in the Tropical Chinese stip mall, the food doesn't come close to Salmon Salmon or Francesco's.

                2. re: Frodnesor

                  If you go to El Chalan, (not that I recommend it) don't order ceviche, you'll end up asking for more fish to accompy your onions and vinegar... seriously. Also, last time I went (last week) I had the oysters with corn and onion and tomato and they used regular corn, not peruvian corn. Confusing since they have a peruvian market right next door (which is owned by the restaurant).

                  1. re: lianas

                    That's not exactly a ringing endorsement.

                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      My favorites are:
                      cau cau - tripe
                      cau cau de mariscos - mixed seafood and rice
                      aji de gallina - chicken with cheese sauce

                      I have had these many times and they have been consistently good.

              2. I thought Vix at Hotel Victor was very nice.... was when they just opened... not sure how it's been lately but I thought it was very nice..

                12 Replies
                1. re: chefschickie

                  Frodnesor - we're actually staying at the Anglers which houses Maison D'Azur and have had a few lovely french breakfasts there (although hard to screw up french press coffee & pastries)! but have passed on what appears to be a lovely, though generic, dinnertime menu. Numerous friends have recommended Puerto Sagua on Collins so I think we're headed there tonight for Cuban and possibly to Salmon Salmon sometime in the next day or two...did indeed try out Joe's Stone Crab at lunchtime and had some very nice claws & excellent key lime pie but am glad to have been there for a late lunch (juuuust squeezed in under the 2 PM lunchtime shutdown) and not at dinner. Thanks to all for many recommendations and we'll keep eating our way through South Beach and the surrounding environs...

                  1. re: nycreba

                    Puerta Sagua does a really nice paella..an order for 2 can feed 4..:) Ropa vieja (kind of a shredded beef in a tomato based sauce) is also great.

                    For lunch their Cuban sandwich is very good but the roast pork is even better.

                    A fun way to go is to order a paella at Puerta Sagua for a certain time..takes about 45 mis to cook..and walk to Tap Tap (5th and Jefferson?)for a great mojito..then back to PS for dinner.

                      1. re: 9lives

                        That's a strong move. I never did the paella at PS because I could not deal with the wait...

                        1. re: 9lives

                          Interesting. I've never had paella at a Cuban restaurant. Always stick to Cuban dishes. Is is different than traditional paella from Spain?

                          1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

                            They do it 2 ways, seafood only or chicken and seafood.

                            I can't say it's as good or the same as you can get in Spain..I've seen dozens of recipes; but it's really good..lots of saffrron in the rice, creamy rice w/mussels, clams, shrimp, white fish, squid and a chunk of lobster...definitely not just a rice w/seafood thrown on. I haven't been to Spain; but my recipes include sausage and a lot of ingredients and I find it really hard to get all the seafood done properly..without overcooking a lot of it.

                            At $17-19/pp it's a bargain..same dish cost twice that..1 block east.

                            Is it the best paella in the world? no..but it's real good.

                            I think in dining out (and not just limited to FL but everywhere) it's important to "manage expectations." The skirt steak I love at Liberty Parilla would probably be a bummer if I ordered it at Prime 112..and I'm sure ther are better paella's in the world; but this is a Cuban diner...and to me, it's a great dish..

                            1. re: 9lives

                              Nicely put 9lives: "think in dining out (and not just limited to FL but everywhere) it's important to "manage expectations."

                              When it is only seafood, instead of paella, it is called arroz con mariscos (rice with seafood). I prefer this version to paella because many places seem to forget the mariscos and load you up on the chicken. By the way, if the rice is soupy style (lap it up with your bread yum yum) it is also called "a la chorrera" (runny, soupy etc.) which is how I prefer my arroz con pollo as well.

                              1. re: 9lives

                                You picked the wrong comparison b/w Liberty and P112 ,but I get your meaning :). Frankly P112's steak isn't that good.

                          2. re: nycreba

                            Most people thing Francescos (one of my favoirite restaurants in miami) edges out salmon salmon. I have not been to salmon yet though...just thought you should know...

                            1. re: tpigeon

                              There's no comparison TP, Francescos beats Salmon hands down and I love Salomon Salmon...it's just in another league. Francescos is Peruvian Continental cuisine, whereas Salmon is pure Peruano. Salmon = Cozy yes, hip no! Francescos = cozy no, hip no! But the chow at both places excels. Niether offer a full bar BTW.

                              As for Chalan, I can vouge for the Lomo Salteado with Tucu Tacu.

                              Looks like the OP has come and gone already so this is for our consumption...

                              As for Paella at Sagua, I have not had the cojones to order so darlingly there. I stick to the basics and try to avoid that place like the plague during the hot months. I beleive I would avoid it all year long were I to ever enter that kitchen. They do have the best Roasted Chicken BB/rice in town IMHO. You got to specify to the server you want the breast with a little extra of that ajus sauce to get the true Net Sagua sensation. Also, if you order it late, it can be dry. I used to eat there three or four times a week back in the day and have tried virtually all their specials.

                              1. re: netmover

                                I have been to Salmon Salmon a few times over the years hoping to be dazzled. It has yet to happen. ( Truth be told, it has been at least a year since my last visit).

                                I think the place has a charm all it's own. It's hip because it is so far removed from the very concept of hipness.

                                Perhaps I will try again...this time, I need to manage expectations.

                                1. re: chocolada

                                  I've felt the same way. The last time I went i just thought of it as a casual, inexpensive night out and it met my expectations accordingly.