Anniversary Dinner for Visiting Foodies
We are coming from Portland, OR to celebrate our anniversary in Miami. Portland has a pretty great food scene and we are spoiled by it! I have been debating where to go for a Friday night anniversary in a city I have never experienced.
Hubby is packing a suit and I want to get dressed up too, but would like to keep it under $250 or so. We are staying in South Beach and would prefer to avoid Italian etc over something that seems a little less like what we can get at home. It would be nice to stay in South Beach so we don't need to drive and can rely on cabs.
Talula, Michael's Genuine and Sra. Martinez keep coming up but so far they just don't feel right. I'm pretty interested in experiencing fruits and veggies I don't usually see. I saw a fresh hearts of palm salad somewhere and thought that sounded great. I also harbor a bit of a blood orange obsession. Wish seems interesting and it is near our hotel but some accuse it of being "simple" which again doesn't quite feel right. Solea-seems like that would fit the bill of feeling like we are not in Portland any more but I am often wary of hotel restaurants.
If anyone can sway me in a new direction I would love it!
You can tell Hubby there is basically noplace in Miami where he would be required, or even expected, to wear a suit.
If it's local foods you want, there are not many places that have stronger ties to the local farms than Michael's Genuine. This time of year you'll find lots of local heirloom tomatoes (our seasons are upside down here), local greens in the salads, herbs from Paradise Farms, etc. The current online menu shows some fresh hearts of palm in the beet and heirloom tomato salad. Plus lots of local fish as well.
Talula has very good food - the best on South Beach in my opinion - with some attention to local product, but it's not really the main focal point of the menu. I think their octopus dish uses fresh heart of palm, and when I was last there I had a great sweetbread dish served with a blood orange gastrique.
Sra. Martinez has a bit of a local focus but it's somewhat subsumed by the Spanish tapas theme. Michelle Bernstein's other local restaurant, Michy's, perhaps pays a bit more attention to local ingredients. Note that on the current online menu, duck confit is paired with a blood orange marmalade (I've not been in recently so I don't know if this is actually available "on the ground").
Red Light is another place that pays attention to what's growing locally and also uses fresh local fish regularly. First place I ever saw Florida mulberries. Very casual - definitely don't put on the suit.
Wish has been through several chef changes since I've been there but the online menu doesn't strike me as very "simple." I've also not been to Solea, though I've had chef Marc Vidal's cooking often at Por Fin before he left and always enjoyed it. I do not get the impession that Solea has a particularly strong focus on local produce though, if that's what you're looking for.
If it's more tropical flavors you're interested in, you may want to check out Douglas Rodriguez's restaurants, Ola and the newer De Rodriguez. Both are "nuevo latino," Ola more pan-latin while De Rodriguez is more exclusively Cuban. Both in South Beach.
I've also had very good things lately at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Midtown, though its food styles are literally all over the map.
Table 8 has been closed for quite some time.
Unfortunately, Table 8 is now closed. I agree with one of the commentators below that Ortanique might be a good option but it is geographically a bit far from South Beach. I second Frod's suggestion of Red Light. Having recently spent a week eating my way through Portland, I'd say that this won't feel like something you can get out there (for example, the Florida spiny lobster is an excellent dish).
Table 8 South Beach
1458 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139
I'm usually weary of restaurant hotels too but I've heard great things about Solea's food. Like Frod, I tasted the chef's food at Por Fin and recently tasted some of his menu items from Solea at an event.
Altamare is another place that recently opened on Lincoln Road and uses local produce and seafood in its menu. I haven't yet eaten there but it may be a place to consider.
Red Light and Michy's are also great options with Red Light being less expensive.