Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Miami - Fort Lauderdale >
Oct 2, 2008 10:57 AM

South Beach - girls weekend - cuban, tapas, steakhouse -- must love food!

any suggestions on dinner spots in South Beach for 4 girls looking to enjoy one night of crazy expensive (sceney!) food/drinks and one night of fun/festive/more reasonably priced food/drinks. Particularly interested in Asian Fusion, tapas, Cuban and steak houses. We're staying at the Delano on Collins, so anything -- walking distance is appreciated. We're all 30 something, so have money to spend but don't want to break the bank both nights. Also, not looking for cheesy/touristy/20 something spots. HELP!!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Fun Asian themed spots are Philippe at the Gansevoort Hotel & China Grill. However, keep in mind these are "fun sceney" spots & the food is not foodie recommended. A great restaurant in South Beach is Talula, eat dinner there & then head to Plunge at the Gansevoort for drinks. Prime 112 is a great steakhouse. However, if you want great food you need to venture across the bridge & head to Pacific Time, Michy's, Michael's, Red Light, etc. Have fun in Sobe.

    17 Replies
    1. re: Foodfroggy

      Prime 112 is not a great steakhouse. It is a great restaurant and an ok steakhouse. Just for the record you don't need to go across the bay for a great meal.

      1. re: tpigeon

        I like puerto sagua for cuban. nice prices and authentic!

        1. re: mountdorahound

          not the type of place they are looking for

          1. re: mountdorahound

            Did you actually read the post? I would be very upset if I posted a detailed question like the OP did on an out of town board and was sent to puerto sagua. I like the place but not even close to what she requested. That's a real disservice

          2. re: tpigeon

            So besides Talula where do you recommend for dinner where you actually get great food on the beach? I have tried dinner at Sardinia & The Setai & was dissappointed.

            1. re: Foodfroggy

              Not sure what you ate at Sardinia, but sardinia is definitely great.

              Osteria del Teatro is great, macalusos is very good, alta mar is very good, nobu (though I have not been in a while - cooked dishes only) was great last time I was there.

              1. re: tpigeon

                Alta Mar is off the usual Lincoln Road path and a good meal. Solid and consistent and great fish

                1. re: tpigeon

                  Also Baires is very good as well.

                  1. re: tpigeon

                    I have been to Nobu a couple times, but I prefer Matsuri for a more authentic feel. As for Sardinia, they just didn't impress with their service & food was bland and uninspiring. I will definitely try Macalusos & Altamar though as I have heard great things about them. Last time I tried Osteria del Teatro was a few years back and has some amazing rigatoni, I take it it is still a great place then? Thanks for the recs...

                    And I really don't mean to knock the beach as I live on the beach, but it just seems as the more creative chefs are across the bay i.e. Pacific Time, Michy's, Michael's, Red Light, Chef Allen's, Azul, North 110, etc.

                    1. re: Foodfroggy

                      I agree 100% the more creative stuff is across the bay. Great meals and creative to me are two different things though...

                      Nobu is all about the signature dishes (black cod miso, rock shrimp tempura and tuna sashimi salad). Its sushi is inferior to Matsuri and also much more expensive to boot.

                      Del Teatro is still great.

              2. re: Foodfroggy

                for SOBE scenery (which usually means pricey average food, plus it's hard to get "great" food on the beach except for the same few places always mentioned on this board),

                anyways, my guess is that you're looking for a beach destination such as Sushi Samba or Bond St., Kobe Club or Wish, maybe Blue Door since you're staying at the Delano, or Prime 112 for their truffled mac and cheese.

                1. re: ankimo

                  I would nix kobe club on that list. I don't think it does very well so you won't even get the scene you are looking for. I know nothing about wish at this point. Blue Door is a good choice as the food is good and it is always a good scene.

                  1. re: ankimo

                    Martarello has great food but unfortunately is not a sit down place.

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      Martarello is great. Went there for lunch and if the waitress didn't take the plate away I would have eaten it too! The zucchini focaccia was amazing. And the portions were a good size. Only thing not really a place to 'see and be seen' but a good place maybe for lunch.

                    2. re: ankimo

                      I would reconsider Blue Door as their signature salad was dissappointing. It was drenched in heavy dressing & neither the shrimp nor crab were fresh. Look at the unappealing picture I took. However, in ankimo's defense, he does state that sobe food is usually pricey & average food.

                      1. re: Foodfroggy

                        Delano brunch is good, we did Valentine's Day there last year and haven't been back for dinner since...(meaning disappointed!)

                      2. re: ankimo

                        in terms of food, i really have a hard time defending a lot of places on the beach (thus you won't find a lot of agreement except maybe talula, but doesn't quite have the scene), so just getting something simpler without the scene is probably what i would do.
                        for example, have a relaxed, non-dressy meal at chalan on the beach or puerto sagua to start, then get dressed up and grab drinks at plunge rooftop (gansevoort) or setai (and avoid 20 somethings)
                        after 11, hit the clubs/lounges like Prive VIP section (talk to a promoter), consider Florida Room at Delano

                    3. I would actually vote for Puerta Sagua-great Cuban food and great prices. Let's face it, restaurants on the beach are over-priced and over-hyped. Get some good Cuban food in your belly and save that money for drinks or maybe dessert at News Cafe. You'll be in S Beach so the "scene"(which is pretty cheesy) will be all around you.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Luvfriedokra

                        There is no way they will have the time they want at puerto sagua and chalan. They want to go somewhere fun. Those places are great values but not fun.

                        1. re: tpigeon

                          i do agree re: puerto sagua and chalan, was just trying to find a compromise. so for a "sceney" place, realize you will have to compromise on the food! thus, some other sceney places besides the ones already mentioned are the Forge, Barton G (classic over the top food presentation), Nemo, Casa Tua (romantic house), China Grill, etc. I think Prime 112 or Blue Door will fit your bill as classic Sobe ambiance with good enough food.

                          1. re: The Chowfather

                            Ahhh, clever... So you just go around pasting up silly links? I went to your blog looking for expertise, but alas, it was the same boring drivel I can find in the New Times.Yawwwwwn. It put me to sleep.
                            Good night

                            1. re: Luvfriedokra

                              actually I find the Chowfather's blog helpful and upsetting at the same time as we went to China Grill in FTL and while we enjoyed the meal, our pockets were picked when the watiress (who gave great service) brought the check! Of course they didn't present any promotional menu for us to look at!!

                              1. re: jmdhsmiami

                                That's why I posted the specials....sorry about that. I haven't been able to make it to the Ft Lauderdale location yet. How was the scene?

                                1. re: The Chowfather

                                  We were there Saturday night. Thank god the special runs only Sunday-Thursday. Crowd was so-so. If you want to call a scene guys wearing cargo shorts and short sleeve dress shirts with a Columbia raincoat on, then it was HOT!!! A few people dressed for the show, but a lot of people were dressed like they were going to Piccadilly's Cafeteria or Sweet Tomatoes.

                                  Again, I was shocked by the prices as the food was a step above PF Chang.

                                  1. re: jmdhsmiami

                                    Actually, I have had some very good meals in China Grill. I did also have a meal that left me feeling like it was only a step above PF Changs for 3x the price and another that left me wishing I had gone to PF Changs. Quality of the sushi each time I have gone has been some of the best in MIami however, believe it or not.

                                    1. re: Icantread

                                      The roll we did have was the Havana Roll which was good. It wasn't a horrible meal, it was good food just pricey. The only time I have been to the one in South Beach was for lunch by accident. Wish I had gone at night as the daylight is not kind to the interior and left a bad taste in my mouth for sharing a fried rice and one other dish for 2 people and spending over $100 for lunch..

                        2. Asian Fusion? Cuban? You may be able to kill two birds with Oriente at the Cardozo a few blocks away from Delano.

                          I guess the tricky part is that you want "sceney" without it being "cheesy/touristy" as there are plenty of memorable places (like Barton G., B.E.D., & Tantra) with immemorable food (even though I'm willing to lose Chowhound-cred by saying that I've actually enjoyed the food at Baron G.).

                          Prime 112 has also been brought up. It is NOT walking distance (unless you wear comfortable shoes, as it's more than a mile away) but it would definitely fit the bill as an expensive sceney place for food & drinks. As for the food at Prime 112, the steaks are more than adequate, but the sides (the rum-soaked plantains and the mac & cheese) blow even the best chophouses away.

                          1. If you want sushi with a scene, dine at the Blue Sea table at the Delano. Its one big marble communal table and you can dine on sushi while watching all the beautiful people enter and exit the hotel. Nice write up here:

                            Id also recommend the Setai but youre gonna empty your wallets on that one if you want to do it right. Table 8 has a dedicated following and a nice little outdoor (not really outdoors but its hard to describe) bar scene. I wasnt blown away by the food there - it was good but too simplistic for my tastes I guess. Others love it. Nobu is also a great option for food + scene and you can do the whole Shore Club/Red Room thing afterwards. Just stick with mains and sashimi - sushi isnt that great. I also love Bond Street in the basement of the Townhouse Hotel (right next to Shore Club Hotel). Sushi is phenomenal and the scene on the roof can be a lot of fun.

                            As others have said, the best place to dine if your looking for killer food is the Design District just over the 195 Causeway. Places like Michaels Genuine Food & Drink, Fratelli Lyon, Michy's, and Pacific Time are all cant misses.

                            Have fun in Miami!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Blind Mind

                              can always hit up the Setai just for drinks at the bar facing the beach.

                              1. re: Blind Mind

                                We had an outstanding lunch at Michaels Genuine -- they are about to be featured in Food and Wine (Nov issue??) and it will then be impossible to get near -- so go now while the getting is good!!

                                1. re: jillbarry

                                  Not to underestimate the impact of F&W, but I think folks may have already heard of MGF&D ->
                                  NY Times #4 on list of Best New Restaurants Outside of NY
                                  Esquire's Best New Restaurants 2007

                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    I was there when they did the piece for F&W and, like Frod said, while being in F&W is great for exposure its really just added more flames to the fire has MGFD packed on a regular.

                                    Getting back to the OP's question though... I remembered another place to try on your trip as I woke up outside LAX today craving a nice French breakfast crepe. That place is A La Folie on Espanola Way. This restaurant offers a great selection of breakfast, brunch, and lunch crepes along with French baguette sandwiches. Espanola Way has a great vibe to it too that youll enjoy and A La Folie contributes to that unique vibe with an authentic French cafe feel. Sure, it lacks in the "scene" department but youll need a break from that stuff at some point and youll thank me for this recco later ;)

                              2. I was there (SoBe) for a 40th b'day last week -- we had the big celebration dinner at Casa Tua at 17th and James.... the food was incredible and the service impeccable -- walking distance from Delano. We had drinks at Raleigh before hand, was kinda quiet, but the ambiance was outstanding.
                                Tallulah is good food, but I don't know if you'll want to walk there.... a little sketchy right about there. Has a great back patio.

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: jillbarry

                                  Thank you to all of the above for all of your incredible feedback. Love Chow. We have reservations at several of the sceney places mentioned - prime 112, Talula, Blue Door, and also Nemo. We won't go to all, b/c we a)dont want to break the bank and b)understand that (as mentioned above) often times sceney means compromising our foodie tastes. Thanks Chowhounds. If anyone wants to throw on a couple more replies about anything right outside of south beach (cab ride away) that is simply NOT TO BE MISSED -- not sure when we'll be back to Miami, coming from LA and NY -- it can be a hole in the wall - as long as its food heaven. Bring it on! We're the kind of girls who can rock any ambiance. Thanks again to everyone!!

                                  1. re: Maggietwin

                                    Talula and nemo are not sceney -- don't go there expecting one.

                                    1. re: Maggietwin

                                      you HAVE to try Michaels Genuine Food and Drink in the Design District. short cab ride from the beach.

                                      1. re: jessicam29

                                        Michaels genuine is probably a $30 cab ride each way. Also not sure how easy/convenient it is to get back on the beach from there. Assuming cabs hang out there now, the option is not undoable because you are a group of 4. If cabs dont hang out there it may be a bit inconvenient for you to get back but not terrible.

                                      2. re: Maggietwin

                                        Thank you Maggie for clarifying your post so chowfather and tpigeone don't think i lead people a stray!
                                        I also like to go from fine dining to hole in the wall as long as the food is good. And who says puerto sagua doesn't have scenery? And even the great chowfather himself says he likes the place so it has to be good! Right?!
                                        And thankyou confirming that I did read the post. Or at least read into the post.
                                        Try it ,, you'll like it and you won't go broke!

                                        1. re: mountdorahound

                                          This is simple: Go to Prime 112 and Nobu. You'll have good food, see a great crowd and have plenty of fun.

                                          1. re: mountdorahound

                                            I was in SOBE this past weekend and was so excited to try some authentic cuban - and of course headed to Portua Sagua after all the rave reviews both here and from our concierge. Unfortunately I was VERY disappointed with my meal. Maybe I ordered the wrong item (the place was packed so it' s obviously popular) - fried kingfish, rice and beans, etc.
                                            The fish was deepfried (no batter) beyond recognition. Once getting through the "crust" (needed a hacksaw) that had formed the fish itself was, as expected, like sawdust. The fish was truly inedible and in retrospect, I should have just sent it back to the kitchen. The iceburg lettuce leaf, pieces of pimento pepper and, I kid you not, a dozen or so canned pea garnish did nothing for the plate either. Rice and beans alright, but not outstanding.
                                            Dining partner had a grouper and tomato stew which was tasty, but again, not remarkable.
                                            Went to Table 8 the following night to redeem ourselves - fabulous avocado and shrimp salad with poblano relish and sweetbreads with truffled pasta, roasted chetnuts, melted leeks to DIE for. Not a huge scene there but close to all the places you want to be...

                                            1. re: Sassfoodie

                                              "rave reviews" for Puerta Sagua is probably overstating it. I think most folks' assessment is "If you want Cuban and you're on South Beach ..." It's far from the best Cuban food in Miami, and many will tell you that the Cuban food in Miami isn't as great as many non-locals think or expect either.

                                              As for the iceberg salad w/ pieces of pimiento and canned peas - that's pretty much what you'll get as a "salad" or garnish in just about every Cuban place in town. If you're lucky maybe you'll get a skinny slice of a frost-bitten, more-green-than-red tomato to boot.

                                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                                LOL Frod... so true.

                                                Decent cuban is too far from SoBe to be worth it I think...

                                                Michael's is definitely worth the cab ride!

                                              2. re: Sassfoodie

                                                so where do you go for good cuban or latin food?

                                                1. re: BLover33

                                                  I like to go to good old Versailles in Calle Ocho, like the feel of the place. I also love Palacio de Los Jugos on Flager and 57th. Latin is so many things so it depends on specific cuisines. I love Peruvian. Biscayne Blvd has a few decent Peruvian place, and there is a bit more upscale Peruvian in the Gables, but my fave recently is Salmon Salmon...