Birthday Dinner - Sra Martinez, Michy's, or MGFD
Good day all, after months of lurking in these forums, thought it was time to participate. Recently relocated to South Beach, and was quite disappointed in the quality of food and service, so it is nice to have had many foodies do a lot of the filtering for me already!
Ok to the question. It is my girlfriend's birthday on the 4th of July, and am deciding on which restaurant to go to. Requirements are simply great food, and second, decent value, (ie. Hakkasan is not in the equation, great food, horrible value for me). Let's say the budget is around $140, not including wine or drinks etc.
Sra. Martinez - We've lived in Barcelona and traveled Spain quite a bit, so we do know tapas/pinxos fairly well. Will the authenticity disappoint, as they have moved on to more of a latin approach. The other question was value. We are not heavy eaters, but CAN eat. Due to some posts stating small portions have been rectified/addressed, how would you say this place would satisfy our appetites? Are there any 'better' Spanish tapas locations?
Michy's/MGFD - These are our other options thus far. I am sure the food would be good, but since it doesn't share the ambiance/dynamic of tapas dining, remains as a backup unless you guys feel we would be more satisfied here?
Thanks for your time, and looking forward to providing the little input I can on these boards!
Ps. Any other locales you would recommend over these locations? Romantic is not a necessity, just great food! :)
re: The Chowfather
Thanks for your input!
Needed to thank you guys above for the Xixon recommendation!! Will definitely be returning there regularly! The tapas were verrrry tasty with great seasonings! Even better was the actual market! Quality produce/oils etc.. for cheaper than quite a few online sites!! So I stocked up on some paella rice, pimenton, galician bread, and olive oil :)
Thanks again! Off to Sra Martinez tomorrow!
Well made it out to Sra Martinez tonight, and was pleasantly surprised with this location. Food was on average, very good, ambiance was decent, and service was very good as well.
• Crispy Artichokes - Surprisingly good. The accompanying sauce had a nice lemon taste that complimented the artichokes. Seeming simple dish, but very tasty.
• Jamon Serrano - well can't really go wrong here.
• Patatas Bravas - Dissapointing to both of us. Essentially smaller potatoes (finger link size) hollowed out, filled with some sort of 'mousse'. Flavour profile was decent, but would not order again.
• Prawns a la Plancha - Cant really go wrong with prawns. Quite large, and cooked well, and a big plus is that they still had their heads. It was topped with a little chimichurri sauce. We preferred not to incorporate the sauce while eating.
• Scallop dish - Perfectly cooked, spinach complimented the scallops perfectly.
•Churros - Nicely fried, not oily, and very crisp. Chocolate sauce was tasty, and reminiscent of Spain.
Ambiance - I really enjoyed the physical location, and had what I consider one of the best seats. We were located in the corner (2 top table) with ample space from other tables (unlike other 2 tops). Biggest downer with the ambiance was the MUSIC! Why play a top 40 radio station...
Service - Fantastic. All dishes explained, beverages kept full, and never looking for a waiter.
I'll definitely make my way back there, and bring others as well.
Thanks to you all for your help!
Thank you all for your replies, very informative, as are all other posts written by you all. I think for this dinner we'll end up at Sra Martinez or Xixon.
lax2mia, very creative suggestion! And I didn't realize how close MGFD and SM were to each other! I'm going to be here a while, so I figure i'll give each restaurant its own night to impress me :) But why did you have to bring up Xixon!!!!! Site does not have a great deal of info, but seems authentic in its offerings. I know they are different approaches to tapas, but how would you compare the two for a nice evening out?
Frodnesor, thanks for your insight as well. I have a feeling i'd enjoy the cavernous feel too, normally feels cozy to me. Read through your reviews of these restaurants on your blog, VERY helpful.
Blind Mind, I will definitely have to give MGFD its night, and after that i'll begin tapas dining around the design district :)
Not the best situation when my girlfriend and I are foodies, yet have fast food budgets for the time being :(
So now I guess its Xixon vs SM. I will definitely visit MGFD and Michy's at another time.
ps. wish you success on your pub crawl! Sosta has my vote thus far :)
If it's for b-day dinner I'd try Sra. Martinez and leave Xixon for a more casual night (Sra. Martinez takes reservations, Xixon is the chaotic "whoever gets here first but if you know the owner you'll get in first but then again you may get lucky" kinda vibe). It'll remind you of the organized chaos of Barcelona (remember when the last person to walk into an establishment would say "Ultim!" to see who the last person was?) Then again, Xixon has the charm of a hole in the wall place and you can make it a funky, low-key birthday. Food at both places is great. Plus at Xixon there's a little market where you can stock up on Spanish products (pimenton, romesco sauce, etc.).
And just to confuse you more I'm going to throw out Por Fin in Coral Gables. For that place I'd wait till there's a prix fixe special (either restaurant week or Miami Spice) where the value for what you get is phenomenal. There's a small tapas/appetizer menu as well.
2500 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL 33134
BM- can't believe you have only just gotten around to the brussels, with the frequency with which you hit that spot. My fav "veggie" there, although really my fav is the chunks of pancetta all up in there.
Xixon is nice, i really like it a lot, but i might lean towards Sra. M though for the bday dinner. More creative and quite delicious. Xixon tasty too but traditional. Everything there is good. At Sra., some are good, some are REALLY good, etc.
As far as prix fixe at Por Fin, last time i was there (last month) i believe they were running a $40 or $45 4 course special with something like a bottle of wine for every 2 diners? Did they stop that one?
You can't lose with Michys or MGFD either but as you've been to MGFD before you likely already know whether you want to go there or not.
I know, dmo... Its hard to believe but in all honesty I never really venture to the sides part of the menu. Just never had a reason to. Someone one night got the sprouts and they were so close I could see the massive chunks of pancetta. SOLD! Had em again tonite and probably will get every visit now.
On a side note, MGFD finally got what EVERY restaurant with a decent liquor selection should have - a bar menu!! Listings of all of the various spirits and their associated prices. Nothing is more frustrating than going out to eat and asking the server for a specific spirit only to have them say, "What is that? I dont think we have that..." The bar menu totally eliminates this hassle. Love it!
I think I have settled on Sra Martinez. Nicer ambiance more befitting of a birthday dinner :) Xixon would fit our personalities well for a birthday celebration BUT I'll probably pass by Xixon tomorrow, grab a couple tapas and visit the market. I read somewhere they had Galician bread (frozen) for a $1!!
Ahh Barcelona how I miss you, where else can you get two entrepans for 4€ each, and then get a FREE bottle of Cava!!
Thank you all for your guidance once again!
I wouldnt say MGFD lacks the ambiance/dynamic of tapas dining at all. The menu is divided into snacks, sides, small, med, lg, and xl plates. I am a big fan of small plates so thats typically what I order - a few small and/or medium plates. Very similar to what you'd get at Sra Martinez just not Spanish/Latin as a sole focus. I went to Sra M last Friday for some tapas and cocktails. Had the grilled squid and the eggplant "chips". Both were good and I shared both with a friend and we both got a decent amount of food I guess. We both agreed that the eggplant needed some tabasco though... The bar was really crowded, as it often gets with people waiting for tables in addition to people just grabbing a few cocktails and a bite like I was. When we finished, we headed over to MGFD for a final drink and an order of the brussel sprouts which Id been dying to try. They were phenomenal and I'll probably be getting them on a regular basis now.
Personally, I find the food and the tempo to be paramount at MGFD. The place just has a constant buzz that makes for a good time. Matter of fact, after reading/writing this post I just may head to the bar tonite!
Good advice from L2M, right on target. The truth is I think you can not do wrong with any of the 3. Just a couple additional thoughts ->
- Sra. Martinez, despite L2M's description of it as "cavernous," is actually my favorite physical space of all 3. It's in an old 1920's post office building, mostly open 2 floors with a small loft space above, and I reallly like the feel of the room.
- I find that food cost at each of these will typically run bewteen $40-60 a person. Should be well within your budget. Tapas portions have gotten somewhat larger at Sra. M and 3-4 pp is probably about right.
- L2M's suggestion of a mini-tapas-crawl in the Design District is a good one.
The tapas at Sra. run the gamut from classics to twists on classics (some work, some don't). Fried Artichokes - classic, Uni sandwich - twist on a bocadillo. Also drinks are pretty creative. It's a fun place although the space is a little cavernous. Michael's on the other hand is much stronger on mains and desserts.
Can I make a suggestion? If you like the dynamic of tapas, why not start off with drinks and a couple of tapas at Sra. Martinez (there's a bar upstairs w/ bartenders and well as "prep area" bar seating downstairs) and then make your way to Michael's for either more small plates or mains + dessert? They're about 1/2 a block from each other and you'll feel like you're on a mini-tapas crawl. It won't be like the epic tapa crawls of Seville or Madrid, but close! Both restaurants offer a good value (with MGFD a bit more so than SM) and I believe you won't be disappointed with either.
As for tapas, try Xixon on Coral Way (on the way to Coral Gables from Miami Beach). Small location, authentic food, pick your own bottle from the market section and corkage is about $3. Like Spain but without the cigarette smoke.
Welcome to Miami (and the Board). Look forward to your participation.