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Jan 14, 2010 12:03 PM

Dining dilemna: Sardinia or Redlight or ? but not Michaels

BFF coming into town, she use to live here and now poor thing lives in South Dakota. Wants a great dinner on a Friday (we have only one night to eat out). Great food she begs. Where do we go? She has already been to Michaels in a prior trip so it is unfortunately out. Tear falling. I have not been to Redlight and although just mentioned in the NYT I am not sure if I want to take a chance there. It has to be really good food. I love Sardinia and it is consistently good food. By the way BFF does not mind a not so pricey place. I could be a dive she says only make it good food. I am not in the mood for a dive and want a good mixed drink bar. Would anyone recommend Casale's next door to Sardinia. Haven't been there either but reviews look good. Do they have a bar? Where would a chowhound take a good food starved best friend? Help me out please.

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  1. Red Light may put out the best food in Miami. Their bbq shrimp is better than most renditions I had in New Orleans during my 5 years living there.

    1. Both have very good food and it is largely a matter of mood and preference, though a couple of insights ->

      - If you're not in the mood for a dive, Red Light is probably not for you (at least not this meal). It's not an outright dive but it'll never get called posh either. I miss the former bartendress who has now left but the mixed drinks are no great shakes (though they've got a small but decent selection of beers and wines).

      - I've found execution at both places to be a bit inconsistent. When Red Light first opened it was all over the map, though it's "grown up" considerably over the past year (service can still be slow but the food is more consistent). Sardinia too I've had some minor issues with - never anything bad, just sometimes not as good as other times.

      - I love hanging out the bar at Red Light (that's where I usually eat there) but again, if you don't feel like a dive, you'd probably be better off at Sardinia, or getting a drink at Casale first. Yes they have a bar, and an upstairs outdoor lounge area as well.

      - I would go to Sardinia over Casale unless you really need a pizza.

        1. I like Red Light very much but have not been back after waiting at least 30 minutes before leaving without even seeing a menu or water, and hearing another story of someone ordering pizza to the place.

          Sardinia is great and usually get high praise for recommending it. I would absolutely skip Casale, as I had a somewhat weird and disappointing experience there. The ingredients they use are top notch but the recipes were a disaster when I went, as was the server's understanding of the food.

          Regarding mixed drinks, what do you like? I typically recommend Area 31 in the Epic or Sra. Martinez in the design district for drinks, though the latter can be uncomfortably crowded.

          1. I wouldnt do Casale as its basically a pizza joint and you can get equal or better pie elsewhere in Miami. Sardinia has always been good on my visits. Red Light is also a great call but only if you and the BFF arent in a rush as the service was really slow when I visited (and that seems to be the message from others on the FL board). I really enjoyed my meal there though and didnt mind the excessive wait because I was enjoying my company and sitting on the terrace overlooking the river. Sra Martinez has been getting a lot of praise lately too. Meat Market is another place I'd definitely recommend. Its got great food, good cocktails, a nice wine list, and a sexy atmosphere that is always hoppin. Talula is also a great choice with a great menu. Area 31 has been fantastic on my 3 visits for dinner too. I dont think you can go wrong with any of these, so maybe choose based on what you want to do before/after dinner?