We're going to Miami... where do we eat?
My husband and I are going to Miami in the middle of January (to escape the Chicago cold!). We would love some restaurant recommendations from you guys. We eat pretty much anything and everything. A nice variety of low to high priced places would be great. We're thinking of hitting up Joe's just because we've heard it's legendary and I'm sure it's nothing like its sister restaurant in Chicago. We're staying at the Royal Palm on Collins and would like places that are accessible either on foot or cab. What are some of the musts? A wide variety of cuisine would be great. Just to give you a sense... we lived in NYC for seven years, have eaten our way through San Francisco and Napa and are slowly making the rounds in Chciago... we like GOOD FOOD! We'll be there for four nights.
Yes, I've heard that Chicago Joe's is no where near the original Joe's. Some places we like...
In Chicago: Avec (fun communal tables, good small plates), Bluebird (fun bar - not frat bar, excellent food, good wine/beer list), Spring (nice seasonal menu), Sai Cafe (fresh, fresh, melt in your mouth sushi).
In NYC: Nha Trang (hole in the wall Vietnamese, but best salt and pepper shrimp I've ever had), Blue Ribbon (good, cozy atmosphere, great good, nice wine list), Five Points (excellent service, great American food), Pearl Oyster (one of the best lobster rolls I've had -- even better than Mary's Fishcamp),etc.
SF/Napa: Betelnut (good, fun Chinese food), Redd (excellent new American menu and fun, modern vibe).
Hope that helps! We like anything from a hole in the wall to nice, higher end stuff.
If you are fixed on staying on South Beach then your options are more limited, I'm finding less and less really good food on the Beach, and more tourist traps and overpriced places that under-deliver on food quality. Having said that, there's lots of South Beach links here ->
Best dinner on the beach IMO is at Talula, husband/wife chef team, both of whom were independently successful before marrying and opening a restaurant together. Good food, "New American" is I suppose what you'd call it. More info here ->
Sardinia is also very good for regional (Sardinian) Italian, the antipastos are very nice. Joe's is worth doing esp. if you've never been to the original here, it is an institution.
For cheaper eats, I like Indomania but there are several suggestions for cheap eats in the threads linked to above.
There are several new places that are just opening up on South Beach and mid-Beach in the Fontainebleu, I'd peruse the board for comments.
If you're willing to spend a little cab fare, I think the best eating in Miami these days is off the Beach. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District (about 7 miles away) has food that is somewhat in the same style as Blackbird (I assume that's what you meant) and Avec - interesting without being fussy and using high quality ingredients, lots of smaller dishes. Michelle Bernstein's restaurants, Michy's (Biscayne Blvd. and 69th St) and newly opened Sra. Martinez (Design District) also play on the small dish thing, with Sra. M a more distinct Spanish tapas focus in the menu (and a very nice bar space too), and probably also being the more buzz-y place right now on account of having just opened a couple weeks ago. Pacific Time, also in the Design District, is also doing the small dishes thing too.
A little further up Biscayne Blvd., Red Light turns out some good food at a reasonable price and is in a funky spot on the Little River (and next to a strip club). Calls itself "regional dining," with a focus on local, organic ingredients, and a little bit of New Orleans flavor to it.
Sushi and other Asian is generally not Miami's strong suit unfortunately.
Scout - The closest thing you are going to find in Miami resembling Blue Ribbon is Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, mentioned by Frodnesor above. Sadly, I agree with his sentiments regarding the South Beach dining scene. You have to get in a cab to go to Michael's but it really is a great amalgam of the best of what is being offered in NYC these days, food-trendwise. The only thing it lacks is the Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken.
You are not going to find anything even remotely like the Pearl Lobster Roll on South Beach. But since you are going to Joe's, they do a great Fried Lobster. Of course, get the Stone Crabs too!
Now I have to head up to NYC and get one of those Lobster Rolls.