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May 12, 2009 07:40 AM

Miami help: 1.Great Cocktails/Fresh Juice 2.Sushi/Ceviche

Australian coming to Miami for a break and to remind herself what the ocean looks like. I'm seeking advice on where to go for:

(1) Great cocktails made with fresh, seasonal juices? Last time I visited I was really dissapointed. Pretty much every fancy looking bar and hotel charges a fortune for really average drinks and I couldn't get a fresh squeezed anything anywhere for the life of me. I know that's just part of South Beach but maybe I missed something great?

(2) Fantastic sushi and/or ceviche?

Staying in South Beach but do have a car and planning a day trip or two to the Keys.

All tips welcome!

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  1. The wife and I had some great ceviche at Jaguar in Coconut Grove last Friday. It's on Grand, right near Coco Walk, so you can stroll there and wonder what the big deal is about Coco Walk.

    They do it a different way, more like sashimi, with various sauces. We also had the Mexican lasagne, what was I thinking when I ordered that? Kind of upscale, prices not too bad.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dbarnard

      Sounds nice - I'll give it a go (and will stay away from the Mexican lasagne!). Thanks

    2. Jaguar does indeed do good ceviches with several different styles and the option to get "sampler spoons".

      Ola in South Beach also does several interesting ceviches.

      Francesco's in Coral Gables is more traditional Peruvian style. I was actually underwhelmed by their ceviches though many folks love them. The arroz negro with seafood is very good.

      I recently ate at the just-reopened Cofradia Ceviche Bar in Coral Gables - good not great, somewhat limited selections for a place pitching itself as a ceviche bar (though they have just reopened and may currently be working with a limited menu).

      Area 31 in the Epic Hotel downtwon has a sizable selection of "crudos" on its menu and I really enjoyed an octopus crudo I had there. More info here ->

      Have not tried yet, but Eos in the Viceroy Hotel also has a number of interesting looking crudos.

      Sushi is not particularly a strong suit in Miami. I like Sushi Deli in North Bay Village (tiny sushi bar in a Japanese market), Naoe for a unique omakase experience, and Yakko-San for Japanese izakaya including several very fresh sashimi choices (but no nigiri or maki). More info on each of those here ->

      I'd encourage you to read more, as none of these are exactly typical sushi restaurants.

      As for cocktails, I was pretty impressed by the bar at Area 31 and the drinks were not completley outrageously priced.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Frodnesor

        Thank you!! This is fantastic - thanks for all of this great advice.

        1. re: Frodnesor

          Just heard that Cofradia has happy hour specials on ceviche and drinks Thurs & Fri, 5-7 pm. Haven't been to personally verify, though.

          1. re: dbarnard

            I wrote on my initial visit to the reincarnated Cofradia here ->

            The new layout is more conducive to happy hour.

        2. Your best bet for cocktails (of those I know) would be Area 31 or Sra. Martinez in the Design District. I cannot speak for the Area 31 bartender going off-menu, (have not been since they opened) but their house cocktails are quite good and geared towards a sophisticated tropical atmosphere with the fresh juices, and lighter more refreshing flavors that still pack a punch

          4 Replies
          1. re: Icantread

            Totally agree with Sra Martinez and Area 31 (giving the slight edge to Sra. because of the almost alchemistic fervor the bartenders have for their ingredients). Would also highly recommend the bar at Bourbon Steak (although it's a bit of a trek from South Beach) since they take their ingredients seriously as well. Plus you can go for seriously good gourmet hamburgers and your friends can tease you upon your return when you tell them you went out for burgers on your US vacation.

            On your way to the Keys hit up Robert is Here. It's west of the Turnpike at the exit to Florida City. Has local fruits, vegetables and shakes. A bit kitschy but fun.

            1. re: lax2mia

              Good calls on both Sra. M and Bourbon Steak bars.

              1. re: Frodnesor

                I heard the mixologist at Sra. Martinez left. He was the one who was passionate about the drinks, so I'd like to hear how they've been since his departure.

                1. re: tlubow

                  That would be a real shame. On the flip side of that, I would love to know where he ended up, if he is still in Miami. I think he also did some brand rep work for Lucid Absinthe.

          2. kind of a drive but matsuri for sushi is very good

            9 Replies
            1. re: tpigeon

              The only problem with Sra. Martinez is that there are like 5 seats at the bar, plus a little table on the veranda. Goldberg makes great cocktails-I believe he has cut down on his days recently as he found another gig. The bar guy at Michael's (sorry I've forgotten his name) makes great cocktails.
              Bourbon Steak makes the only palatable Ramos Gin Fizz I've ever had in Miami, and they are serious about their cocktails. The bar is also gigantic. Long way to go for a drink, though. Area 31 is highly recommended for fish-may be one of the best-and they make their cocktails with fresh ingredients. If you are looking for a Milk & Honey/PDT-type of experience here, though, you are probably going to be disapopointed.

              1. re: Miami Danny

                Good caveat. We are far far removed from any Speakeasy serious craft cocktail bars.

                By any chance do you know where Goldberg is currently working outside of Sra. Martinez?

                1. re: Icantread

                  Yes it is a sports bar-I'm sorry but I can't remember the name right now-but I don't think there is a great cocktail program there, anyway. I'll find out.

                2. re: Miami Danny

                  The bartender at Michaels Genuine is Ryan. Irene also makes a killer cocktail there. I'll have to swing by Sra Martinez to check out how the bar is doing seeing that was one of my favorites.

                  Jaguar is definitely a good call for ceviche. They have many different kinds all of which do a different take on ceviche from traditional to non-traditional. Its also very affordable. I usually do the ceviche sampler and 1/2 chicken caesar for about $20 or something like that. I also really enjoy the ceviche at Francesco's in Coral Gables, but that is more intimate of a scene, more for going on a date Id say.

                  Funny that this thread really made me realize that we have no "bars" in Miami. Sure, there is The Room on South Beach, but that is beer/wine only. I recently went to Seattle and visited Vessel Bar and had one of the best bar experiences of my life. These guys were serious and passionate about their craft. We have none of that in Miami that specialize in being a bar and then maybe having food.

                  1. re: Blind Mind

                    Thank you, BM. I believe we may get one or two cocktail bars before the end of the year-but a lot depends on the 'economy'.

                    1. re: Miami Danny

                      I just want a speakeasy, dammit. Upscale, down-n-dirty, I dont care. Just gimme a place where I can go and have a killer cocktail or spirit, where the bartenders know wtf they are talking about and are passionate about it all the way down to the ice. Thats all Im asking. You can even bone me on price, I dont care. I just want a nice bar here in Miami that caters to "the drinking crowd" and by that I do not mean college kids...

                      1. re: Blind Mind

                        The little bar next to David Bouley's Evolution in the Ritz Carlton was excellent (albeit expensive). Alas, Evolution is long gone and I believe the bar is as well.

                        1. re: Frodnesor

                          Im not talkin hotel bar, Im talkin standalone bar that caters to the serious drinker. Where Miami Danny can get a kickass Gin Fizz (MD - if youre ever in Seattle, Vessel Bar is a MUST for the Gin Fizz) and I can sip on a bourbon from a highball that has a singular giant sphere of ice in it to keep the drink cold but not watered down. A place with no taps where bottled beer takes a backseat to booze and wine selection is limited to a few glasses. If the guys at Sra Martinez ventured out on their own and started up a small speakeasy like this, Id be there daily.

                          1. re: Blind Mind

                            Maybe we should open our own. . .

                            Btw, I'll throw in Gibson and P/X of DC to Vessel (haven't been but heard great things), Death and Co, PDT, etc. for awesome model bars

              2. Thanks to everyone for your MANY suggestions. I'm now returned from our trip and wanted to report back:
                JAGUAR - We made it to Jaguar in Coconut Grove (which bizzarely reminded me very much of the part of Brisbane I'm from in Australia?). They had a great selection of different ceviches but I have to say the restaurant itself wasn't really my cup of tea. It was so big and had that almost 'chain'-like feel. Also the serving sizes were massive - definitely get your money's worth but I prefer smaller plates so that I can try more stuff. Plus it's just too warm to walk around Miami feeling like a balloon.
                AREA 31 - Really enjoyed this. Fantastic view and perfect antidote to South Beach. Miami downtown is a whole other place when the sun goes down and the lights come out. Tasty cocktails with good fresh ingredients, tasty nibbles also - though we didn't stay for dinner.
                BOURBON STEAK - Splashed out here for dinner. Excellent food and cocktails but very expensive (as I'm sure you all know). Our server was perfect. I probably wouldn't return though. The restaurant itself is beautiful but very large and doesn't feel intimate enough for me (personal preference) and the location is a bit out of the way. Also, it feels like a good solid restaurant you could find in any town - it didn't feel like it had much of a Miami touch at all.
                MICHAEL'S GENUINE - Loved it. Great food (esp. seafood), great drinks. We went for lunch and enjoying lounging around and getting reasonably tipsy before browsing all of the fantastic design stores. I will definitely return.
                FRATELLI LYON - After wandering the design stores we ended up here for aperitivo (who wants to stay sober?). I was quite impressed with the italian-style aperitif cocktails - very refreshing and not too strong. We lounged here for a good couple of hours - sipping and reading and the staff had no problem with that at all.
                FLORIDA ROOM/DELANO - We braved the Delano one night to go see a great act play in the Florida Room (Tuesday - Big Bounce - recommend it!). I was surprised and really impressed with the cocktails. All fresh juices and well put together - unlike the drinks upstairs at the more debauched Rose Bar. Not cheap (of course) but worth it. I will return. Meanwhile, have sworn of the Rose Bar.
                JOEY'S CAFE (Wynwood) - DeLicOus!! Really enjoyed our meal here as well as the wine. Unfortunately i didn't try the cocktails (it was one of our last stops so needed a break...). I had prawns in a tomato-based sauce on top of polenta to start - really incredible. Their pizzas aren't bad - inventive toppings but I'm spoiled by NYC. Pasta was lovely. Dessert was fantastic.
                GARCIA'S SEAFOOD GRILLE - This was probably my favorite stop (although it's a tough call). Really fantastic seafood, including ceviche, cooked perfectly and without too much sauce or seasoning to cover the deliciousness of the seafood itself. Everything was juicy and tasty. Slightly more expensive than I had expected but I enjoyed it so much it was worth every penny!

                Now missing the beach and detoxing until next time. Thanks again for all the fantastic tips!