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Honeymoon dinner recs for SoBe this weekend?

n
nycmonica Jan 23, 2008 06:59 AM

Help! Anyone have a good recommendation for a romantic dinner spot in South Beach for next weekend? My husband and I will be in town from New York City for our honeymoon and were considering a few places, but it sounds like there have been some closures and changes in staffing of late.

We'd like a place with good food (we'll try most anything though vegetarian is probably lowest on our list!) first and foremost, but outdoor seating in a romantic setting would also be nice for the occasion. Close to our hotel (the Raleigh) is key since we won't have a car, but if there's someplace really good and reachable by cab that's OK too.

After surfing around this board for a bit I've come up with a few options but would love some input. 1. Maison d'Azur. Any thoughts? We love food and will spend for this occasion but I don't know what kind of ambience the place has (or if we could even get a reservation at this late date). Love Anthony Bourdain and Les Halles and heard the chef worked under him. 2. I've heard mixed reviews about the Raleigh's restaurant and that there's a new chef. Anyone been lately? (Maybe this is more of a lunch or breakfast spot?) 3. Wish sounds romantic and we'd love to eat outside but the reviews there sound mixed too. 4. Casa Tua sounds romantic but like the food is sub-par. 5. Table 8 seems to be getting some good reviews. Would this be a romantic spot? 6. Sardinia sounds like the best food in town, but is it special enough for this occasion? Maybe for dinner on on one of the nights we're in town, though? Is this reachable from our hotel?

Any other thoughts, maybe something new that out-of-towners like us wouldn't know about?

Thanks in advance for any input!

Monica

  1. n
    nycmonica Jan 24, 2008 06:01 PM

    OK, one more request: anyplace to get tacos (I lived in SoCal for five years and miss L.A. Mexican food) for lunch one day while we're in town? Or other cheapie ethnic bites anyone would like to recommend?

    20 Replies
    1. re: nycmonica
      karmalaw Jan 24, 2008 06:52 PM

      best mexican in town: mi rinconcito mexicano --SW 20th Avenue and Calle Ocho (SW 8th St). On the weekends they have shrimp ceviche tostadas that are quite wonderful.

      There is one of the worst mexican restaurants I've ever been to, El Rancho Grande right next to Lincoln Road. But, many people don't know any better so it's usually packed.

      1. re: karmalaw
        j
        jessierandall Jan 24, 2008 07:18 PM

        I'm glad you want to mix it up a bit. That said, I would save the Mexican food for another trip....

        Grab a cab (or better yet, rent a car) and take the trek to Little Havana. Grab a cafe at a window or at El Nuevo Siglo ( a grocery that also has a small counter at which you can eat ). Explore Palacios de los Jugos, a giant market that will make you think you are in Cuba. The food at Palacios is not always sublime but the market atmosphere and the fact that a guy with a machete just cut a coconut for you and popped in a straw is fantastic. 5721 West Flagler

        You may want to consider the divey but still good Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop for lunch. It's Cuban and full of every kind of person you can imagine: cops, business men in suits, politicos, construction guys (and gals). It's at 2830 NE 2nd Ave. (Across the Venetian from you)

        Tap Tap may be a good spot for Haitian food and killer mojitos. 819 5th Street (Not 100% they serve lunch. Anyone know?) They have a green sauce that is lip smacking good. I would pour it on a peanut butter sandwich.

        A La Folie has good crepes and is inexpensive and tucked away in lovely Espanola Way.

        Check to see if Indomania serves lunch. It's a gem and serves Indonesian food. 131 26th Street.

        If you really want to get a sense of the area, I would try to get a tour of the Miami River area and Little Havana. It's a fascinating place. But be warned, it's NOT touristy and a little Espanol comes in handy.

        1. re: karmalaw
          Frodnesor Jan 24, 2008 07:52 PM

          *There is one of the worst mexican restaurants I've ever been to, El Rancho Grande right next to Lincoln Road.*

          Clearly you haven't been to Ver Daddy's Taco Shop yet.
          C'mon, El Rancho Grande isn't that good, but it's not that awful either. Their tacos al pastor don't completely suck.

          Generally Miami does not excel in Mexican food though.

          1. re: Frodnesor
            karmalaw Jan 25, 2008 06:30 AM

            oh - it's awful. It's like taco bell with table service -- except taco bell is better. When there are such tasty options not that far away: Mi Rinconcito Mexicano, Los Tres Hermanos, etc. there's no reason to subject yourself to a plate of mediocrity.

            1. re: karmalaw
              n
              nycmonica Jan 25, 2008 06:55 AM

              Wow, thanks again. Great recommendations. I'm thinking these could come in handy since they're forecasting rain this weekend.

              Jessie, are all the places you mention in Little Havana or are some in South Beach? Still trying to figure out the lay of the land. And I do speak a bit of espanol, so that's good to know.

              And what about the Mexican place that may or may not be awful? I might be able to skip it for Cuban fare since we're starting to get passable Mexican in NYC now.

              What about Joe's Stone Crab? I've seen lots of mentions of it on the boards. Is it really worth a visit?

              1. re: nycmonica
                karmalaw Jan 25, 2008 07:04 AM

                El Nuevo Siglo is at 13th and Calle Ocho in Little Havana. I don't see the window open much -- but the lunch counter serves up some of the best cuban food in Miami.

                The GOOD mexican place, Mi Rinconcito Mexicano, is 8 blocks away at 20th and Calle Ocho.

                barring leaving south beach at rush hour -- it will take you about 12 minutes to get to Little Havana.

                Enriqueta's is at 186 NE 29th Street -- near Miami Midtown.

                1. re: karmalaw
                  j
                  jessierandall Jan 25, 2008 07:21 AM

                  Monica, I would skip the Mexican if I were you...

                  Tap Tap, A La Folie and Indomania are all on the Beach. Enriqueta's is a cab ride across the causeway to the mainland.
                  (Not entirely sure it's worth a cab from the Beach just to get there. You may be better off getting a fuller spectrum of life and food in Little Havana).

                  Tap Tap has Haitian murals on its walls and it's a nice experience. Haitian food has a lot of African, French and Spanish influence. I've had good experiences at Tap Tap but the service can be lackadaisical.

                2. re: nycmonica
                  lax2mia Jan 25, 2008 08:04 AM

                  Do yourself a favor and skip the Mexican. Get it out of your mind. Don't think there's good Mexican here because there's not. Trust me. I know where you're coming from.

                  If you've got a lunch date open you can try Joe's, but I'd go to the take-out area vs. the restaurant itself. It's less formal plus you can eat in or take it to go and eat it at a park or the beach.
                  I'm trying to think of something ethnic that's good and unique to here but Tap Tap is the only thing that comes to mind.

                  1. re: lax2mia
                    karmalaw Jan 25, 2008 08:34 AM

                    Have you tried Mi Rinconcito Mexicano? If not, you're in for a treat: real mexican food -- and GOOD.

                    1. re: lax2mia
                      t
                      tpigeon Jan 25, 2008 09:06 AM

                      El Chalan- solid cheap peruvian. 16th and washington.

                      1. re: tpigeon
                        n
                        nycmonica Jan 25, 2008 10:40 AM

                        Wow!! Thank you all for the wonderful ideas. I'm excited to try all of these places!

                        1. re: nycmonica
                          t
                          tpigeon Jan 25, 2008 12:33 PM

                          oh yeah, liberty steak house - argentinian steak is also nearby.

                          1. re: tpigeon
                            karmalaw Jan 25, 2008 07:32 PM

                            yeah -- but liberty is just mediocre if you're used to a real parrilla.

                            1. re: karmalaw
                              t
                              tpigeon Jan 25, 2008 09:37 PM

                              Liberty is solid and their provoletta rocks. It ain't grazianos but it works just fine for me and should for anyone from nyc.

                              1. re: tpigeon
                                karmalaw Jan 25, 2008 10:06 PM

                                If you can't get off of the beach, it will make do. I am spoiled when it comes to parrillas.

                    2. re: nycmonica
                      Frodnesor Jan 25, 2008 11:03 AM

                      Agree that (1) Whether El Rancho Grande is passable, or far worse, in either circumstance I wouldn't regard it worthy of a meal on a short vacation; (2) Rinconcito, as good as it may be, likewise is probably not worth going out of your way for on a weekend vacation unless you have a real strong hankering for Mexican. Forget Mexican, do Cuban or other Latin American (Peruvian, Argentinian) instead. It's more local anyway.

                      Joe's Stone Crab is a Miami institution, and the food is quite good. Great stone crabs, good sides (hash browns, lyonnaise potatoes, creamed spinach, etc.), other fish dishes are good, plus - surprisingly - excellent fried chicken which is a remarkable bargain at $6 for a 1/2 chicken. The stone crabs will definitely set you back anywhere between $35 - $50+ a plate, depending on what size you get (larger sizes are more expensive; I find the smaller ones have sweeter meat and usually get the "selects" - in between medium and large and 7 claws per order).

                      You can get take-out from Joe's Takeaway next door and avoid the waits.

                3. re: karmalaw
                  Miami Danny Jan 26, 2008 06:53 AM

                  Have to agree on Mi Rinconcito, although they have better tacos at the Orale! taco truck. From 10/25/07 ...... "The real deal is revealed...Mi Rinconcito 1961 SW 8th St (Calle Ocho)...sorry for letting it be concealed, but I just love this place. I used to go every Sunday for a while for 'breakfast'', usually shrimp ceviche tosatadas, a couple of cold Tecates and a tripe or foot dish. Whenever my wife was sick, or vice-versa, their caldo de res (beef soup) is as good as anyone's mom's chicken soup to make you feel better. Authentic, cheap, delicious. And cold, cold, Tecate. And I've never seen any gringos here...until now, I hope. http://www.miamisunpost.com/1025bites...

                  1. re: Miami Danny
                    karmalaw Jan 26, 2008 10:40 AM

                    Well, at least this gringa has been there on a regular basis... and I remember telling you about Mi Rinconcito one night at Stop! almost 2 years ago when we were talking about mexican food in Miami. I was lucky enough to have found them right after they opened in 2004 at their original location on the other side of the street.

                    Like any restaurant that I really love, I dragged everyone I could get there to try it out.. even the tibetan rinpoche I brought there pronounced the food very good

                    And, unlike many restaurants that move and expand - they've held true to their tasty food. Hmmm... shrimp ceviche totasdas for lunch it IS.

                    1. re: karmalaw
                      Miami Danny Jan 26, 2008 11:03 AM

                      I actually heard about them from a fellow named Juan Rodriguez, who told my wife about it. She was going there for about a year before I ever made it there. Wasted year. Speaking of wasted, I think I remember the conversation. It was over some sake sangria, no? Also, keep in mind that Mi Rinconcito has a weekend specials list (Especiales de Fin de Semana), and shrimp ceviche tostadas are only available on Sundays, and sometimes they run out. I've seen people eating plate after plate, followed by an enormous bowl of Pozole or Menudo. Like I said, throw in a couple of cold Tecates, and syou're on your way...

                      1. re: Miami Danny
                        karmalaw Jan 26, 2008 11:32 AM

                        I rarely had the Sake Sangria. Usually had a glass of Malbec or the Crios Rose de Malbec when it was warm outside.

              2. n
                nycmonica Jan 24, 2008 06:32 AM

                Wow, thanks to all of you for your fabulous recommendations. I'm thinking maybe the Delano idea (since it's so close to the Raleigh and looks incredibly beautiful) might be just right for Saturday night. Then we can go to Talula or eat at the Raleigh's new restaurant on Sunday night. We're only there for a super-short visit this time. Anyone know how to get a reservation at the Raleigh's restaurant? Can't seem to find the name. And would Talula require a reservation on a Sunday?

                Thanks again to all of you!

                Monica

                1 Reply
                1. re: nycmonica
                  Frodnesor Jan 24, 2008 06:37 AM

                  For the Raleigh, just do it through the hotel - particularly since you're staying there.

                  I've never been to Talula on Sunday so can't say for sure, but suspect you're OK without a reservation.

                2. t
                  tpigeon Jan 23, 2008 07:32 PM

                  You can do the spa at the standard late afternoon, then watch the sunset at the standard while eating (go for the grilled food). That is really tough to beat for overall experience...

                  1. n
                    nycmonica Jan 23, 2008 11:21 AM

                    Frodnesor, I thought the same thing when I saw that the seafood was flown in daily at Azur. So much for the locavore trend! Still, it does sound tempting. I'd be interested in hearing if anyone has been to Blue Door lately. Jessie, have you?

                    Also, how hard is it to get reservations at these spots?

                    Thanks again to all of you for such great input!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nycmonica
                      j
                      jessierandall Jan 23, 2008 11:52 AM

                      Blue Door is lovely but food at Talula is better. I was last there several months ago and enjoyed my meal.

                      You may also want to venture to the other Andre Balazs-owned property, The Standard. Eat outside - the view is breathtaking and the food is very good. Very, very romantic. Locals and tourists love it. If you go on Sunday, don't miss bingo at about 9pm.

                      1. re: nycmonica
                        Frodnesor Jan 23, 2008 01:21 PM

                        Suggest you take a peek at OpenTable.com to get an idea of reservation availability. They have reasonably good coverage for Miami (incl. Blue Door, Talula, Sardinia, Maison d'Azur, Wish) but you may want to call the restaurant directly if you have a preference as to in or out, etc.

                      2. n
                        nycmonica Jan 23, 2008 10:04 AM

                        Thanks so much for the fast and detailed feedback! I believe it was your review of Maison d'Azur that made me think it sounded worth a visit! Your mention of Talula has my interest piqued now too. Would you recommend it over Azur even though it doesn't have the same ambience? Talula's menu sounds a little more adventurous. Creek 28 sounds interesting too. I'm originally from the Pacific Northwest and like the idea that approach to food, though I'm not familiar with the chef (left Seattle years ago). Also, good to know about the construction outside Wish!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: nycmonica
                          n
                          nycmonica Jan 23, 2008 10:11 AM

                          Thanks, Jessie. We must have posted simultaneously because I didn't see this earlier. Do you mean the Blue Door? I just checked out the website and it does look super-chic!

                          1. re: nycmonica
                            karmalaw Jan 23, 2008 10:17 AM

                            I haven't eaten at the Blue Door in quite awhile.. I stopped eating there because the food was mediocre at best. Perhaps someone can provide you information as to the current status of the quality of the food.

                            1. re: nycmonica
                              j
                              jessierandall Jan 23, 2008 10:17 AM

                              Yes, Blue Door. The food is very good and it fits the romantic bill.

                              I think Talula has really good food. If you go, make sure you sit outside. Sitting inside is unromantic and not as nice.

                              Creek 28 is in a hotel that's kind of low- budge, boho romantic in a sense. It's a nice escape if you are a local but I'm uncertain that it should make it into your top picks.

                              1. re: jessierandall
                                t
                                The Chowfather AKA sobe Jan 23, 2008 08:02 PM

                                Completely agree that Creek works if you are local but probably not if you are visiting.

                                I always enjoy going to the Delano for a drink at the Rose bar followed by Dinner at Blue Door. Meals are usually very good and the setting is great. I prefer the outside patio but it's all good. You can head to the pool bar for an after dinner drink. Always a fun night.

                                Talula is great but not sure it fits into the honeymoon equation.

                                Maison d'Azur works. My only concern is that you won't have much privacy. Tables are very close together.

                                You mentioned The Raleigh. Was one of my favorite spots when Eric Ripert was involved over the past few years. Small but great menu in a great patio setting. Chef Brana is running the kitchen now and could be worth looking into.

                                Wish is always a romantic option. Good menu/food in nice outdoor setting.

                                Ok, since we are talking about a honeymoon I'm throwing Casa Tua into the mix. At least try to get a drink in the lounge.

                                Cafe Joley at the Astor is worth looking into. New and I haven't been over there but it sounds like it has potential.

                                I'm also a fan of Table 8 although its been a few months now.

                            2. re: nycmonica
                              Frodnesor Jan 23, 2008 10:58 AM

                              For my money, Talula is the best food on the beach and the menu is definitely more adventurous than Maison d'Azur, which sticks pretty closely to straight French brasserie but with a strong focus on fresh seafood (they fly in fish from all over the world, which does seem odd given all the water surrounding Florida, but go figure).

                              If I was picking just for the food, no doubt it'd be Talula. For good food + "honeymoon" ambience, Maison d'Azur might get the edge. Incidentally, the indoors at Talula is not notably UN-romantic, just nothing terribly special.

                              I actually have heard good things about Blue Door recently though the history of mixed bag reviews is correct. Have not heard anything specific about a chef change or anything that would explain it and can't vouch for it personally. The online menu looks remarkably pricey even by SoBe standards.
                              http://www.chinagrillmgt.com/blueDoor...

                            3. Frodnesor Jan 23, 2008 07:31 AM

                              The outdoor area at Maison d'Azur is quite nice. It's sort of tucked into the hotel property and off-street, so you're surrounded by the front building (old Mediterranean style) and some gardens and other hotel property behind you. Nice soft lighting, good music. I understand the place becomes more lounge-y later in the evening but when we were there (before 9pm) it wasn't that way at all.

                              I love the Raleigh Hotel but have not been to the restaurant. The report recently was that Jeffrey Brana - formerly executive chef at Norman's (a Miami institution opened by Norman Van Aken), and then briefly at his own restaurant-critic-fave Brana's, which is now closed, is now at the Raleigh. The hotel website doesn't have any further info.

                              I like Wish's outdoor seating as well (though there may be construction on the road it faces out on) but don't love the food as much.

                              I'm not a big Table 8 fan, though others are. It's a nice space, and one of the few places on Ocean Drive worth eating at.

                              Sardinia has great food, and it's a nice-looking place, but not terribly romantic. The outdoor seating is purely utilitarian. Sardinia would be a very short cab ride from the Raleigh.

                              Talula has a nice outdoor patio area (garden, no view) and excellent food.

                              I've not been to Creek 28 yet but it's a neat, cozy, romantic space and I've eaten at one of the chef's earlier restaurants and enjoyed it.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Frodnesor
                                j
                                jessierandall Jan 23, 2008 09:56 AM

                                You might want to sit outside at the Delano's restaurant. The food is good and the ambiance is romantic and chic.

                                1. re: Frodnesor
                                  Icantread Jan 23, 2008 11:06 AM

                                  Creek 28 is wonderful. Simple menu, very good food, great bartender. A little bit simplistic outside and not terribly romantic (at least during the daytime). Cannot vouch for how it looks at night, but I really enjoyed the restaurant nonetheless

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