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May 29, 2008 09:48 PM

Traveling to South Beach & Key West

My wife and I will be traveling to South Beach (4 nights) and Key West (3 nights) from Southern California in mid-June and want some ideas for Cuban food, interesting/unusual places to eat and Sunday brunch. We will have a car and we are fairly adventurous but would prefer to stay close to South Beach (I try not call it SoBe). We have reservations at Emerils, Ortanique, Sardinia and Prime 112 for now. The Cuban place would likely be for lunch but we're open for making changes to our arrangements. We're staying near 10th and Collins so I hope that's going to be a good spot for most places to walk to whenever possible. One of our favorite restaurants in LA is (soon to be was) Table 8 so that may help steer us in the right direction. We somehow plan to stop at Table 8 in Miami as well.

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  1. Hope you have a good time! Table 8 not great here, but for a out of towner it might be worth the visit. It might be easier to search the board for suggestions as this topic has been covered excessively already! : ) Frodnesor did a great compilation of the "best of" lists for every conceivable interest:

    Schnebly's Winery ( while it may not be the best wine, it might be a fun pit stop on the way to Key West, has a great garden.

    We will be in Key West the second weekend in June and already have my favorites lined up!

    7Fish for dinner
    Blue Heaven for dinner (Sunday Brunch is good
    )Sarabeth's (of NY fame) great anytime of day!

    You will find other suggestions for more local dives in Key West in Frodnesor's list I am sure.


    3 Replies
    1. re: jmdhsmiami

      Wow!!! This is amazing, what a list. Thanks very much. If you ever come to LA and need to find places to go, let me know and I'll try to help. Or Vegas... but that's been and being covered extensively.

      1. re: winophile

        Thanks for the offer Wino!

        We have a trip to Asia next year April and we are trying to figure out what kind of layover we will do in LA, I want to see Ellen's talk show but we are passing thru LA both ways on the way to and from Asia. I will keep you in mind!

        Since you are not a regular poster on here, any suggestions now is welcomed, maybe some classic timeless suggestions that will be around a year from now would be good as oppose to newbie suggestions.

        1. re: jmdhsmiami

          A year from now in LA? Surely you jest. Restaurants come and go here like mad, even the very good ones, and some good ones are not so good in a short time. Today, I recommend Fraiche in Culver City, AOC in Fairfax (small plates), Mastros in BH for steak (have not been to Cut but it is supposed to be very good), Spago tasting menu with wine pairing remains the best dinner we have had. If you want a view of Pacific, Geoffrey's of Malibu is best, with Paradise Cove very cool view but just beach food. Remind me again in Winter. LA is a great food town despite rumors to the contrary. You must also go to Pinks for a late nite hot dog experience 2nd to none. Oh, Crustacean and Grace also not to be missed. Valentino in West LA has best wine list you've ever seen and food to match, depending on what is special. I hope this gives you something to think about. Campanille also good for typcially Italianized California, but its not fine dining.

    2. In addition to the "best of" list, I think this thread has some good ideas for some uniquely South Florida places ->

      "Florida" cuisine

      Talula does a nice Sunday brunch and also IMO has the best food on South Beach. I would certainly pick it over Emeril's.

      Just to make sure you know, Ortanique is not on the beach but is in Coral Gables.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Frodnesor

        Thanks very much for your reply. Funny thing is, I checked my reservations again and realized I had already booked Talula's for Sunday brunch! I must have heard from somewhere that it was the place to its confirmed.
        Yes, I realize that Ortanique is in Coral Gables but we have a car so I'm looking forward to it. I hope its worth the drive, since any drive now needs to be worth something....

      2. wino,

        Just eep your expectations in check. I would scratch Emeril's as it's not exactly representative of S. Fla plus it's a tourist haven (not that there anything wrong with that, but there's only so many people in Tommy Bahama shirts and shorts wanting to smoke cigars and drink light beer out of the bottle that I can take at one time). Talula is much better and somewhere like OLA would probably be something a little different than what you'd get in L.A (similar in vein to Ortanique). The menu at Table 8 here is different than the Melrose location and I like the one in L.A. much more. Sardinia is also the type of place that you'd probably already find in L.A. (Osteria Mozza is a good comparison but OM is much better). The restaurant scene that is buzzing is more on the other side of the bay in Miami proper. Michael's Genuine, Driade, Pacific Time and Michy's. Most of these are the types of places you'd see easily in L.A., but at least Michael's and PT focus a little more on Florida ingredients.

        For breakfast try something different. There's an Argentinean bakery at the west end of Lincoln Rd. with pastries (usually with dulce de leche or membrillo (quince paste)) and cafe con leche which would be a good way to wake up. There's also a "Little Buenos Aires" area on around 71st and Collins with Argentine restaurants, bakeries and a burger shop.

        Lastly, if you're in town between June 16-30, Miami Spice (the annual promotion put on by the Convention and Visitors Bureau in August and September where restaurants offer prix-fixe lunch and dinner) is offering a "Miami Spice Preview Week" where restaurants will be trying out their menus prior to the launch in August. Of the ones I see participating so far, Blue Door at the Delano Hotel would be a great choice followed by Tuscan Steak.

        2 Replies
          1. re: Frodnesor

            Driade is where the Fratelli Lyon is located and is an Italian furniture company. They opened up a showroom here in the Miami Design district. They took the front half of the showroom and they opened a restauarant that utilizes furniture and accessories from Driade. It was funny we were eating off the table that is our outside dining table! What a great way to promote your product by utilzing it in real life!


        1. try the Restaurant at the Pelican Hotel. the sidewalk tables are fun for people watching. the food is fabu!
          826 Ocean Drive

          for cuban:
          3555 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33130 ยท 305-445-7614

          for bubbles and great apps, the bar at the Biltmore Coral Gables is fun.

          in Key West, try cuban at El Siboney

          call first, as they tend to close sometimes in the summer.

          also check out Schooner Wharf Bar, Turtle Kraals, Half Shell Raw Bar, Kelly's Caribbean, Louie's Backyard (for drinks on the deck),

          1 Reply
          1. re: edible complex

            Wino, I asked for your suggestions for LA now as looking at your post history, you don't post often and wanted to get your insight into LA dining.