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May 25, 2009 07:31 PM

The Long Miami List

I've done some research for an upcoming trip to Miami. I'm interested in food that defines Miami as a city. I posted about this before with little response, but thought coming up with a list might help me narrow down the choices. I appreciate any help out there.

In general, I'm interested in Latin American food, southern/soul food (if any), and restaurant classics beyond Joe's and Versailles. I'm especially interested in Cuban and how the fare there compares to Tampa's. I searched some recent threads for more down home food, which is my usual preference. Here's the list. Which are best bets when you have, saw, 5 or six lunches and dinners? any must-do breakfast spots?

Fine Dining considerations: Michael's, Michy's, Talula, others?

El Rey de Las Fritas for frita burgers and shakes. Pan con bistec. Tamales.

Sergio’s for sandwiches, steak and fish. Croquettes. the tortilla de platanos

Palacio de los Jugos, coconut and papaya juices. Pork is consistently good.

Havana Harry’s vaca cfrita masitas de puerco and palomilla. croqueta

Mao Colombian -- super hamburger. hot dog and the corn in Mao and DO NOT tell them to leave anything out.

Ortanique for upscale, much touted Floribbean.

Little Havana NMB for off the beaten path Cuban. Fried chicken. Tamales. Fish. Tortillas.

Ay Mama Ines it's actually "Afro-Cuban" Rabbit, Crocodile, Frog. Mushroom with Cheese appetizer Arroz con Pollo. Chorizo in sherry. Manchengo Cheese and Serrano ham.
Palomilla with ham and capers. Tasajo. Masitas de pollo.

Che Tito’s for grilled steak and chicken

Islas Carnarias churrasco with chimichurri. Potato chips. Chicken and garlic sauce. Caldo Gallego.

Versailles Lackluster (but not bad) reviews, still a part of the Miami experience. Tortilla. Garlic soup. Roast Chicken. Boliche. Picadillo. Seems like I should go.

The original Bahamas Fish Market fried whole snapper. Great grouper filets, decent paella/arroz con mariscos (yellow rice and seafood), cod fritters and assorted other frituritas including conch, etc.

Garcia's Seafood for a seafood chowder and grilled dolphin sandwich

Chalan for seafood? Peruvian


Puerto Sagua whole red snapper fried, bistec de palomilla with all the fixins and tamal de casuela con cerdo... chunks of pork in a corn meal gravy, abuela comfort food sort of dish. Popular with tourists. Sounds cheap, easy, and greasy.

Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop The chicken sandwich the cuban is not the greatest.

Luis Galindo's Latin America Chicken/cheese croqueta Their Vaca Frita is solid. It is always packed. Brilliant counter.

El Nuevo Siglo supermarket on Calle Ocho.

La Rosa. Morros are always tasty and the maduros are consistently the sweetest. good cuban rap of chicken or beef with moros and maduros. pionono- sweet plantain timbal stuffed with seasoned ground beef


Mojito Grill pan con bistec

La Carreta late night bites on the way home from downtown/the beach. for the Denny's cuban experience.

Casa Paco Fabada Asturiana

Casa Juancho great atmosphere and pretty authentic spanish cuisine. traditonal Spanish offering tapas, cochinillo (suckling pig), The restaurant has great ambience and live music but most people find the food to be no more than average

Asturias in Hialeah

Nena’s: cuban style home cookin. breakfast and lunch

Blue Sky Coral Way and 88th Ave. chicken soup, arroz imperial and moros!
croquetas at the Latin Bird Road Cafe on Bird and 67th Ave.

Oasis in Hialeah near Miami Lakes and Gratigney

Las Culibrinas

Jaguar in Coconut Grove for the ceviches in particular.

for Argentinian parillada, best of breed is Graziano's.

for Peruvian, Francesco's is much loved for their ceviches and for the calamari w/ squid ink risotto. Aromas Del Peru -- cheaper peruvian than Francesco

Los Ranchos in Bayside (downtown), offers authentic Nicaraguan food. Gallo Pinto Red Beans and Rice! Also, fried plaintains longboard chips.

Cerro Negro -- Nicaraguan

El Rey de Chivito -- uruguayan chivito sandwich

Chef Creole -- conch stew/fritters

Honduras Maya -- baleadas

Fritanga Monimbo -- pitahaya juice

El Atlakat on NW 7th -- pupusas de chicharron y revuelto Atlakat La Moon -- late night colombian eats

Xixon -- tapas, jamon iberico

Ideas -- nicer tapas place, i.e. chef's broken eggs




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  1. Andy - I was hoping not to monopolize the discussion in response to your last post and I'm glad to see you've put together a lengthy list. Here are some thoughts on those parts of your list I have any insight on ->

    Fine dining - yes, yes and yes.
    Sergio's - decent but I wouldn't go there over any of the other Cuban places you've listed.
    Ortanique - still very good IMO but has its detractors.
    Chalan - the classic for Peruvian is Francesco in Coral Gables. Ceviches, arroz negro. If you have one Peruvian place on your itinerary it should probably be Francesco over Chalan, and I don't know that Chalan is worth it on its own.
    Enriquetas - for my money the pan con lechon is the sandwich to get.
    Casa Juancho - I think the food is better than average and that the place is somewhat underrated.
    Blue Sky - I have never found this place remotely appealing.
    Chef Creole - the shrimp is very good there too.
    Los Ranchos - would not make my short list.
    Ideas - not really a tapas place, much more of a Spanish sit-down dinner restaurant.
    Novecento - is only OK.
    Yuca - way past its prime and really almost more of a historical relic to the original "Mango Gang" generation of restaurants at this point. I'd sooner go to its founder, Douglas Rodriguez's newer place, Ola.

    One place I definitely think you shouldn't miss is Red Light. Casual place, good cooking, strong focus on local ingredients. I've said more here ->

    Since you show some interest in tapas places, there are a couple more I'd throw in the mix - Copas y Tapas (mostly sandwiches, but I especially like their callos, a tripe stew, and their ensalada rusa, a potato-salad type item spiked w peas, carrots, bound with olive oil-rich mayo and good Spanish canned tuna); and Taberna Giralda (great bacalaitos). Both are in Coral Gables. There's also Michelle Bernstein's new place, Sra. Martinez, in the Design District.

    For more upscale Spanish, there's also Por Fin (also in Coral Gables), where I think the food has actually improved quite a bit since they opened (not that it was ever bad, I just think they're now hitting their stride).

    One other place that I think does good Cuban is Sazon in North Beach. Folks also like the Venezuelan bakery, Moises Bakery, across the street.

    You missed Tap Tap for Haitian food in South Beach which I mention not because I think it's one of the top 10 restaurants in Miami but b/c you're looking for local flavor.

    Breakfast - for some living Miami history, S&S Diner, about 70 years old. For another old-school diner type place I like, Jimmy's Eastside Diner further north on Biscayne (the "Jimmy's Omelette" with spinach, tomato, mushroom, onion & feta is my favorite). Icebox Cafe on Lincoln Road can be hit or miss but when it's good, it's good. Front Porch Cafe on Ocean Drive has good pancakes and is one of the only decent places to eat on Ocean Dr.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor

      many thanks for the guidance, frod. Your blog is a real treat, too, and I'll be taking a closer look in the coming days.

      1. re: Frodnesor

        Two more to consider that I love. Old Lisbon for Portuguese cuisine and reasonably priced Portuguese wines, red and white. Wonderful seafood. Nice service and ambiance. El Rey del Chivito at 6984 Collins for Uraguayan cuisine. Just bring your cardiologist as their food is not exactly heart healthy. Enjoy.

        1. re: Frodnesor

          For soul food, a couple more to throw at you (though I've not tried so these are not personal recs) -

          Peoples BBQ

          I should also mention Hiro's Yakko-San, a Japanese izakaya, which, though not consistent with your focus on Latin American food, is something of a local "foodie" institution. They also regularly feature a great selection of locally sourced fish and seafood.

          1. re: Frodnesor

            I would add Mahogany grill for soul food.

            I'd also add the Atlakat on SW 40th Street and 95th Avenue for Salvadorean.

          2. re: Frodnesor

            You may want to consider Xixon for tapas. It's casual but has some nice dishes; it's located near Coral Gables at 1801 Coral Way # 110.

          3. For food defining Miami as a city, I think OP might like to try Floribbean spots such as Ortanique, Ola, or even Chef Allen's. Not that they are necessarily Miami's best but I think a place like Ortanique for example well represents Miami's melting pot mix of latin/caribbean flavors and and attitude.

            Also still happen to think that Little Havana Resto in N Miami is one of the better cuban spots in town and probably the best Lechon Asado and Chicharrones de Pollo around.

            1. I think someone else recommended El Mago de las Fritas instead of El Rey de las Fritas - I'd try El Mago.

              Chalan for Peruvian? I'd go with Ceviche 105 instead. Francesco is good too but it's more upscale and not as "typical" as some people would say.

              I'll agree that you should add Haitian to the mix for local flavor. Not sure if Tap Tap is the preferred choice though. It's a "touristy" choice.

              The Venezuelan bakery Moises is just okay - I have a hard time justifying it over other Venezuelan bakeries like Manhattan, European Corner, Charlotte, & Biscotti. For one Venezuelan bakery, I'll probably go with European Corner since they have my favorite tequenos. Cachapas are decent there as well.

              For Cuban, I do like El Nuevo Siglo, La Rosa (a little greasy though), and Little Havana in North Miami.

              And I do think La Estancia Argentina got a following from the local scene? Their balcarce, I believe, may be the best in town. Dulce de leche lovers should not pass this place by without visiting. Although for facturas, I've enjoyed it at Panizza. I haven't tried the facturas at Tango's Bakery, but it is a very authentic Argentine bakery where they would serve a shot of orange juice alongside with coffee, in line with Porteno tradition (from Buenos Aires).

              And I do love People's BBQ - it's an above average eats for Southern.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mialebven

                I would do yakko san and pretend it is latin cuisine :).

              2. FYI, here's a nice summary of Miami restaurants in Epicurious from the Miami food writer Victoria Pesce Elliott