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Miami Beach - Chowhound's choice! Where to Dine around Collins and 20th to 60th Street

An Insatiable Appetite Jan 27, 2010 11:28 AM

I know SW Florida pretty well, but infrequently get to the "other" coast.

I will meet five snowbird friends/foodies from the midwest on the beach next week, around 60th street. We are looking for a nice, mid to higher end spot for dining that's memorable, and will leave them saying "Wow, Miami Beach is great!." Open to any cusines that can offer a choice of steak and seafood, with price per person $50-90 for app, main and dessert. We've loved Michy's on the mainland (could fall back on it if needed), and the Forge may be too pricey.

We are looking for a spot that's within 15 minutes from Collins and 30th to 60th in season's traffic, thus preferably on the Beach. They googled Morton's Steakhouse, Hakkasan, Girassoles, Shula's and others, but it's not the same a a Chowhound's recommendation!

  1. The Chowfather Jan 27, 2010 12:28 PM

    Scarpetta

    1. Icantread Jan 27, 2010 02:13 PM

      On the mid range, I would add Creek 28

      1. Frodnesor Jan 27, 2010 03:28 PM

        South from 60th Street on the beach:

        - Talula at 23rd Street off Collins Ave., best food on South Beach.

        - Indomania at 26th Street St. off Collins for Dutch-Indonesian - huge assortment with the rijstaffel.

        - Hakkasan or Scarpetta in the Fontainebleau - both pricey.

        North from 60th Street opens up a plethory of cheap eats options. I've Google Mapped several here ->
        http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

        Best of them may be Las Vacas Gordas for Argentine parrillada, El Rel del Chivito for Uruguayan chivito sandwich. Grab a beer and some tapas at Lou's Beer Garden around 73rd & Collins (not on my map yet but ought to be).

        If you're willing to go across the causeway, aside from Michy's there's also Red Light and Anise Taverna close off 79th Street Causeway mainland side.

        There's no good reason at all to go to Morton's or Shula's. Not they're bad (Morton's isn't, anyway) but you can go to a chain steakhouse anywhere. Think I've driven by Girassoles but never paid much heed, if memory serves it just looks like a sandwich shop.

        The Forge is currently closed, reopening sometime.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Frodnesor
          p
          pearlD Jan 27, 2010 05:29 PM

          I'm here (in Aventura) from Toronto and last night we went to "PRIMI" at 71st and Collins (sort of in your desired zone).....It was fabulous...the best Italian food I've had in a long time and that is counting Toronto where we have many really good Italian restaurants. They do not take reservations except for 6 or more so I suggest going rather on the early side...we were there about 7:30 and had to wait about 40 minutes (on a Tuesday night) Two of us had the 'special fish' which was 'Branzini' served with a white Risotto, hearts of palm and artichokes in a light white wine sauce..incredible...one other had Pasta Ciao, he loved it and the 4th person had the green ravioli with a very delicate ricotta filling and a wonderful fresh tomato sauce.....I wish we weren't leaving this weekend because I would definately go again and try other dishes.....very special place and we'll be back next year for at least a couple of meals.....

        2. netmover Jan 27, 2010 06:35 PM

          Cafe Prima Pasta 71st Street

          20-25= +/- few
          26-43=0
          44 = Ft Bleu
          45-60=0

          This range you require offers you and yours very few options.

          Take them to Joe's! 1st and Washington

          2 Replies
          1. re: netmover
            An Insatiable Appetite Jan 27, 2010 08:44 PM

            Wow!
            Chowfather, Icantread, Frodnesor, PearlId and netmover,

            Thank you for the fast replies!
            Frodnesor, your google map and addesses is great!

            I'm not limited to the range between 20th to 60th, it's a radius of 20 minutest ime out from that area as well.
            So, jjust need a spot in, or within 20 minutes of that area. They'll be arriving from different locations, so it's an easy radius to find a good spot.

            I'll present these, and any other suggestions over the next few days to them, and let democracy pick a great spot from these keepers!

            1. re: An Insatiable Appetite
              Icantread Jan 28, 2010 09:27 AM

              Don't worry, that's not a wasteland area. PLENTY of choices, especially if you add 20 minutes to the travel time

          2. LilMsFoodie Jan 28, 2010 09:40 AM

            Talula

            I'd probably try drinkies at the Fontainbleu. I'd like to see a Billion dollar renovation, for one thing. Hope they got rid of that hideous kiddie pool with the octopus<G>

            Scarpetta's really appeals to me, but I've not been yet. Maybe in April after high season dies down.

            Look forward to your choice and report back. LMF

            16 Replies
            1. re: LilMsFoodie
              Frodnesor Jan 28, 2010 10:11 AM

              Other than the glowing blue floor there is not much to recommend the "Bleau Bar" in the lobby of the Fontainebleau. The drinks are uninspired, and the folks who pour them indifferent.

              1. re: Frodnesor
                lax2mia Jan 28, 2010 10:39 AM

                Really? I've had the opposite experience. Bartenders have been very friendly and the tequila/serrano pepper drink (named El "something) is pretty good. The drinks at Scarpetta are much better (the San Remo is addicting). But Bleau Bar is more fun for tacky people-watching.

                1. re: lax2mia
                  Frodnesor Jan 28, 2010 11:11 AM

                  We can definitely agree on your last point.

                  1. re: Frodnesor
                    An Insatiable Appetite Jan 28, 2010 05:21 PM

                    Great! We are definitely booking a night at Talula with the strong vote from Frodnesor and LilMsFoodie, and 2nd and possibly 3rd nights are up for grabs, with votes to narrow down among Scarpettas, Primi's, one latino spot, and Michy's baed on other suggestions

                    I used to visit snowbird friends at the Fontainbleau when dinosaurs walked, and Ben Bernice and son Benjy Novack were known about town, and The Deauville was another top spot, especially at the ?Starlight room......

                    1. re: An Insatiable Appetite
                      Frodnesor Jan 28, 2010 07:27 PM

                      I live only a few blocks away from 71st & Collins and have never heard of anything called "Primi". My suspicion is that refers to Cafe Prima Pasta, which is on 71st St. close to Collins, has a dish called Penne Ciao, and is a decent but pretty pedestrian Argentine-Italian place.

                      It would not make my short list of places to visit on a brief trip to Miami Beach. Indeed, it's only blocks from my house and it's not very often on my long list either. There's nothing wrong with it, just nothing that I've noted very special about it either.

                      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite
                        Icantread Jan 29, 2010 07:32 AM

                        If I could suggest a casual, inexpensive alternative to Prima Pasta devoid of Michael Jackson banners - I found George's on 300 72 Street more my preference and at a good price point. It's right around the corner from Prima Pasta.

                      2. re: Frodnesor
                        Icantread Jan 29, 2010 07:27 AM

                        Have not tried drinks at Scarpetta, but would recommend Hakkasan's bar. A bit sweet, but not to the degree prevalent in most of Miami.

                        1. re: Icantread
                          An Insatiable Appetite Jan 30, 2010 04:27 AM

                          Aha! The group is narrowing down choices.

                          Has someone who's been to Scarpetta, Indomania and Michy's have a clear favorite of the three for my group's tastes?

                          1. re: An Insatiable Appetite
                            Frodnesor Jan 30, 2010 06:48 AM

                            I've been to each but you've not told us much about your group's tastes other than that you want "a choice of steak and seafood." A few more thoughts ->

                            - Scarpetta is probably the most traditional, and clearly the most opulent, of the 3 - elegant, and menu format is typical with appetizers, pastas, and mains. The food is Italian but not overwhelmingly traditionally so. It is not very "Miami" as it is really primarily a clone of chef Scott Conant's NY restaurant.

                            - Indomania is a neat place, much more of a locals' place. The food has no particular connection to Miami (not many Dutch-Indonesians here) but it's good, and interesting. Many things are highly spiced, though not necessarily hot-spicy. Best way to experience it is by getting the rijsttafels, which offer more than a dozen different dishes to sample.

                            - You've been to Michy's, so you know it. Some people are put out by the decor, though I find it charming (I saw Chef Michelle Bernstein recently explain that she wanted it to look like a Barbie playset from when she was growing up - with that info, it all starts to make sense). Menu format offers almost all dishes in tapas-style 1/2 portions, which enables you to construct a bit more of a tasting menu style of dinner if you wish. Though the culinary influences are literally all over the map, the menu probably offers the most "local flavor" of any of the 3 you've mentioned.

                            1. re: Frodnesor
                              Icantread Jan 30, 2010 09:05 AM

                              I would add that Indomania is definitely funner in a group

                              1. re: Frodnesor
                                t
                                tpigeon Jan 30, 2010 03:15 PM

                                You should add creek 28 to the mix. That place does not get enough love

                                1. re: tpigeon
                                  An Insatiable Appetite Jan 31, 2010 08:17 AM

                                  Frodnesor,

                                  I get that some of my guests are not as adventuresome as you and fellow chowhounds. I dine on Michelin 3 star cuisine for dinner, and chomp on local BBQ the next day for lunch, hot off the cooker! I won't mention what I've eaten in roadside stands in Asia, though "cat, bat or rat" have been my guesses on some items.

                                  Glad you added the tidbit about Michy's decor, I wondered too about it!
                                  On a later trip, I'll have to try Sra Martinez, Hakkasan, Meat Market, Scarpettas, Creek 28, and Area 31. Screw the waistline, there's great places to try.

                                  Come to Naples for a Chowdown as the season winds down. We've Inca's Kitchen, IM Tapas, Escargot 41, Sea Salt and other great spots.

                                  1. re: tpigeon
                                    Icantread Jan 31, 2010 03:20 PM

                                    Interestingly enough, the sous chef used to (still does?) help Michael's when it came to getting its local ingredients. Makes sense since I don't think their kitchen is big enough for more than a day's worth of food.

                                    1. re: Icantread
                                      An Insatiable Appetite Feb 23, 2010 04:27 PM

                                      Chowhounds, Thank you for your spot-on advice!

                                      My group of 10 flipped over the atmosphere, service, and food at Talula. It's one of the best dining spots we've been to in S Florida. I'll have a review up soon. We liked it better than Michy's as it's a warmer atmosphere, the service is better, and the food is as good or better. Michy's has more choices of dishes than Talula. We'd be happy at either spot. We also tried Scarpetta in the Fontainebleau and had a good meal, however service was spotty, a complaint we've since heard from others.Food was generally good to very good. Wines are pricey, and mosty Italian. The cuisine is really Mediterranean, not so much Italian. It's an attractive setting, more glitzy and upscale than Talula, as befits a Fontainebleau Tourist Magnet. The Bleau Bar was nearly empty, as people chose much lievlier spots to meet and greet. Sad, it's unique. I heard the Fontainebleau was in foreclosure, having started renovation a couple years ago, with much higher room rates in mind to cover the hige investment, than what the market bears in 2010.
                                      I've a review with photos of Scarpetta at:

                                      http://aninsatiableappetite.blogspot....

                                      We got better bang for our buck at Talula, then Michy's , followed by Scarpetta.

                                      1. re: An Insatiable Appetite
                                        Frodnesor Feb 23, 2010 05:24 PM

                                        Glad you liked Talula, it's one of my favorites.

                                        Not sure I could agree that Scarpetta is more Mediterranean than Italian. It may be geographically agnostic Italian, but it's pretty unequivocally Italian through and through (with perhaps the exception of the raw fish "susci" dishes, which I think are purely a chef's flight of fancy). While there are some dishes that come from Mediterranean parts of Italy (octopus with potatoes, Sorrento style sciatelli) there are at least an equal number that are clearly Northern Italian and not remotely Mediterranean (agnolotti dal plin, tortelli di zucca, etc.). Put it this way - I'm sure there's just as much butter as olive oil flowing through that kitchen.

                                        By the way, you unfortunately managed to avoid some of the best things there, which are the house-made pastas.

                                        But I'd agree that Talula is a better value (and, I should add, has a couple excellent house-made pastas themselves).

                                        1. re: Frodnesor
                                          t
                                          tpigeon Feb 23, 2010 07:42 PM

                                          solea is really good btw

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