HOME > Chowhound > Miami - Fort Lauderdale >


Please comment on my Miami restaurant choices

  • p

My husband and I will be staying in South Beach for 5 days over New Year's. While we imagine it is going to be crazy for the holiday, it is a priority for us to hit as many exciting food spots as possible. I've been searching this board for a couple of days, and trying to find good food blogs and trustworthy recommendations, but I need some help with refinement.

Here's my list of potentials:

Michael's Genuine - seems like not to be missed from what I read here and elsewhere?
Michy's or Sra. Martinez. - Any recs between the two? What are the salient differences?
Talula - I think I've mostly read good things
Joe's Stone Crab - Will probably do the takeout, since I'm not into waiting for hours...
Latin American Cafeteria
Other Cuban options = Versailles? ISlas Canarias? El Rey de Las Fritas? ?

Here's a little more about what we're looking for to help with the recs. I know this doesn't really help, but we are ambitious and adventurous eaters and just want to try the places a local would say shouldn't be missed.

We probably will skip most Asian places unless they come very highly recommended (we get enough of that at home). We will want to do no more than one fine dining type place (i.e. $100 per person or more, tasting menu type of place) and maybe one or two upscale, casual, artisan food type of places (like I believe Michael's Genuine to be?). We'll definitely want hole in the walls, casual, cheap places for lunch and even for dinner. Suggestions for delis and the like are very welcome.

Oh and at this time we do not have a rental car, but I'm starting to think we may need to, so don't hesitate to recommend restaurants that are not at the beach (but I appreciate geographic tips, as I'm still trying to get familiar with the areas and whether the distance equates to a reasonable taxi ride or should use a rental if we only get one for a day or two).

Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You've done your homework! I think Michael's is a DEFINITE! Everything I've had there is top notch, EXCELLENT. Try the beef cheeks, they melt in your mouth and if you are into watching him cook, there's a "chef's counter" for a few. You have to make reservations NOW
    because they get booked. Smart to miss Asian restaurants since there's not much to speak of (I'm Asian).

    Great sandwich, snack place is Le Sandwicherie, 229 14th Street, Miami Beach, (305) 532-8934. There are only bar stools and an open counter BUT they make your sandwich FRESH with good ingredients and the BEST salad dressing. They'll let you have a squeeze bottle to add more on for yourself, yummy. If you read reviews about the sandwich being small, I disagree, my husband and I share one, it's enough and they are very reasonable.

    Do not miss eating on Lincoln Rd., another restaurant we call our "home away from home" is the Cafe at Books and Books, so great people watching. Their portions are large, so again we share an entree. Our all-time favorite is the Cuban pork sandwich with Yuca fries (eat first while they are hot, crispy and tender inside) and mojito dip and a large field greens salad. Another favorite is lamb meatloaf with smash potatoes. They also have a good selection of sandwiches and I think these are available night and day, so you get to eat reasonably. Visit the Art Center on Lincoln Rd at Meridian to see artists open "galleries" and end evening with ice cream or sorbet made fresh at Frieze on 1626 Michigan, just down and off the side of Lincoln. You can also have a drink at Segafredo Cafe.

    Have fun, sitting under the stars in January so you can brag about it when you get home and make them envious.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Eleanor Hoh

      Martarello kicks the $%#%$# out of Sandwicherie.

      1. re: tpigeon

        Ok I give up where is Martarello? I gather its on the Beach but when I google I just get these comments without an address.

        1. re: mom2mateo

          On west side of Washington just north of Espanola across from the Cameo

      2. re: Eleanor Hoh

        I like ice box more than cafe books for food but books has a much better peoplewatching location.

        1. re: Eleanor Hoh

          Grazi is a must --best restuaranteurs on the Beach. Ask for the Salmon Shelly--not on menu but excellent piece of salmon on top of grilled veggies

        2. Michaels Genuine SRA Martinez and Michys are all not on the beach so you will need a car anyway...

          1. If you want to hit MGFD, Michy's, and/or Sra Martinez, you will need a rental car. You can find rentals pretty cheap these days believe it or not. Its about a $50 cab ride from MIA to SoBe anyways so consider that. Cabs are very expensive here...

            As for Michy's vs Sra Martinez... Sra Martinez is a Spanish tapas resto with lots of small plate options with a traditional Spanish focus. Michy's has a wider focus (i.e. not just "Spanish") and its much more of a romantic spot for 2 to enjoy a great meal. Michy's also has plates that can be ordered as 1/2 plates that gives you an opportunity to enjoy more of what they have to offer. Both restaurants are fantastic so I cant say one is better than the other but Id have to say Sra Martinez is garnering a little more attention these days because its so new and has really hit the ground running.

            Another hole-in-the-wall that I recommend for breakfast or lunch is A La Folie on Espanola Way. Espanola Way is a cool pedestrian street with a few shops and restos. A La Folie is a French cafe that has a great assortment of sandwiches and crepes. The vibe there is truly unique.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Blind Mind

              There is another a la folie on purdy and you won't get eaten by mosquitos there

              1. re: tpigeon

                tp - i dont know why you constantly complain about mosquitos at the a la folie on espanola. Ive never been touched by one and I eat there quite often. Especially now when we havent seen mosquitos in a few months. Maybe Im just not gastro-mosquito food?

                pkt63 - Ive never eaten at Grazie but I can tell you that Quattro is overpriced mediocrity at best. I would recommend Sardinia as well.

                1. re: Blind Mind

                  Count yourself lucky. I suggest that next time you go look at the counter. I am pretty sure you will see some off spray there. I have got bitten every single time I have gone there. The food at the purdy location is just as good and they do not have the same issue there.

              2. re: Blind Mind

                Thanks, everyone, for your comments so far. Luckily, there are still tables available when we're there next week, so I'm optimistic about hitting MGFD and am still debating between Michy's and Sra. Martinez.

                Another question...if we do Italian at the beach, what would you recommend, Grazie or Quattro Gastronomie? Thanks!

                1. re: pkt63

                  None of the above. Sardinia over either.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    Agree with Frod. Grazie is good but sardinia is quite a bit better. Quattro is not quite as good as Grazie and more expensive than Grazie. A better question is would I want to go to Osteria del Teatro or Sardinia. At the end of the day I would choose sardinia now. I think they have taken the title away from osteria who has had it for at least 15 years (I am talking south beach only).

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      If you on MB on Sunday, then go to Joe's at 3 pm. The bar is open, get your name on the list and they will serve you promptly at 4 p.m. This is the best way to do it and if you haven't been to Joe's before, then dining inside for the full service is worth it. It could be hectic in Miami Beach as two major bowl games are coming to town (Orange Bowl and the National Championship game). That's means a ton of tourists and busy restaurants. One restaurant that I didn't see on here is Casa Tua. Some love it, some don't but many agree it's one of the very finest on Miami Beach and occasionally you run into an Elton John, Madonna or Brad & Angie there....they like it!


                      1. re: LargeLife

                        Sardinia is better than casa tua and much less expensive. What famous people like or dont like is irrelevant.

                        1. re: tpigeon

                          I like Sardinia a lot as well but I did have a great meal at Casa Tua a few months ago...

                          Casa Tua was certainly more expensive but you can't beat the ambiance of sitting in that garden and my meal that night rivaled or topped prior meals at Sardinia. It was only one meal, but it really was fantastic.
                          Having said that, these two restaurants offer two different types of italian cuisine and i'm sure OP would have a very nice meal at either.

              3. Bienvenidos a Miami! I can't comment on the upscale restuarants but I can definitely help with your Cuban picks.

                You really should get a rental car or even a taxi and venture into Little Havana at least once for some good Cuban food.

                El Rey de las Fritas on Calle Ocho (SW 8th St) is not to be missed. It used to be a dump but when that burned down, they re-opened in this remodeled space in a little strip mall on the north side of the street. It is absolutely spotless. We were just there last week and my Cuban husband said that if his mother ever gets out of Cuba, El Rey de las Fritas is the first place he would take her so she could eat the food of her youth. Be sure to have a guarapo (sugar cane juice) or a batido (fruit milk shake) or the fresh limeade -- they whip it up in the blender so it's frosty and frothy and perfectly tangy-sweet.

                The menu is on the wall and it's in both English and Spanish. I always have a tamal (without ketchup, please!) and a frita (Cuban-style burger), which comes covered with freshly fried shoestring potatoes. The garbanzo stew is bliss in a bowl. The Cuban sandwich isn't bad either. You must order a colada to go -- the small container of coffee that comes with little plastic thimble-sized cups for sharing outside on the sidewalk while you enjoy an after dinner smoke (or not!).

                I did not like the much-touted Cuban sandwich at Latin American Cafeteria. It was so dry it cut the roof of my mouth -- like eating shards of glass. I never went back.

                We think the food at Versailles is overrated, too -- but perhaps that's not fair as we only ate there once. However, I still recommend it for the atmosphere. Get your Cuban coffee outside at the window and stand around listening to the old guys discussing politics. There's a great deal of arm waving, shouting and cigar smoking. That experience alone is almost worth the trip to Miami.

                We like La Carreta better. It's just down the street. My husband and son prefer it to Versailles hands down... could also be due to cheaper prices but I frankly can't remember.

                In summary -- El Rey de las Fritas is our pick for the best Cuban food at the best price in Miami. It's a true locals hangout. Buen provecho!

                1 Reply
                1. re: psuarez

                  i recommend:
                  renting a car
                  enriqueta's sandwich shop for a tasty cuban sandwich
                  moises bakery for some scrumptious empanadas
                  el cristo to try bolivian salteƱos, and then get some cuban there

                  if you had to pick between the two -- Michy's and Sra Martinez
                  I would pick Michy's...as mentioned, you can still do half orders at Michy's
                  the desserts at Michy's are superior

                2. I can help with the cuban restaurant/hole in the wall combo...there's a small place in West Hialeah called Mesa BBQ which is not a BarBQue place at all but they have great country cuban food. If you like pork, this is the place to go...they have all other cuban dishes too but their "pork belly cracklings" are the best - they are called "chicharon de puerco". You will def enjoy their food. Clean place but small and they usually have a line outside for take out but you can also dine in. If you are interested in traveling to Hialeah from the beach, let me know, you will not regret it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: guiragirl

                    Michy's, Sardinia..and while you're at it going to MGFD, why not stop into the new Pacific Time in the Design District?