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Jan 8, 2011 06:06 PM

South Beach for Mom and big kids

My kids and I have had a rough year and we're headed to South beach for Martin Luther King weekend and a little R&R. We are staying at the Loews without a car, getting in Friday night around 9 PM and leaving Monday afternoon.

We are used to good restaurants in Philadelphia and NY. My kids are 15 and 21 and eat and appreciate just about anything. Since dining out will be the major part of our night entertainment, I am looking for fun places and great atmosphere. Outside dining would be a plus since we'll be coming from snow-covered Philadelphia.

I have been warned how expensive SoBe is and I am prepared to pay during this special trip.

What would be a great first night stop after we check in to the Loews? Preferably, within a safe walk from the hotel? It would probably be close to 10 o'clock.

We have been to an Emeril's in Orlando before and were not that impressed so we probably won't try the one at the Loews.

For Saturday and Sunday nights, I'm considering Barton G for the pure fun factor. I have read all the cons, but I do think my kids would enjoy. I've also heard good things about WISH but worried it might be a bit too romantic?

Is there a Cuban restaurant close by with great food and atmosphere? I love Alma de Cuba here in Philly with Chef Rodriguez. How are his places in Miami?

Everyone I talk to here says I have to go to Joe's Crab for stone crabs. We love seafood but do we have to go to Joe's?

Please, any help would be so appreciated. We need some fun. Thanks.


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  1. I would go to Meat Market for your first night. Reasonably close walking distance, somewhat clubby vibe, good food, outdoor seating (I'm pretty sure) on Lincoln Road which is great people watching.

    If you want Cuban food with great atmosphere, De Rodriguez Cuba in the Astor Hotel certainly fits the bill.

    If you're going to Barton G exclusively for the presentations and the atmosphere, well, I probably can't persuade you not to. I find the food mediocre at best and incredibly overpriced for what it is, but you're paying for the other stuff. It is a beautiful space. I miss the days when Kerry Simon was running Starfish there (but I digress).

    Joe's is an experience, and the stone crabs are really very good. It's got a genuine old school charm and a menu with staples that haven't changed for decades (including some occasional bargains like the $5.95 1/2 fried chicken). A nice alternative option is to get from Joe's Take-Away next door and make a picnic lunch of it.

    Another place I'd throw into the mix, particular with 15 and 21 year old boys, is PubBelly. Bustling, tapas bar / pub type atmosphere, very pork-intensive, Asian-influenced menu, good music playing (my 13-yr old boy on our first visit loved everything about it). I recently wrote about it here ->

    Barton G Restaurant
    1427 West Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

    Meat Market
    915 Lincoln road, Miami Beach, FL 33139

    12 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor


      Thank you so much for your great post and recs. I think I'm going to remove Barton G from the list as I would probably leave there feeling very ripped-off.

      We have never has stone crabs, so I think we will tackle Joe's. The picnic lunch idea is a great option because we have done old school seafood here in Philly before. For dinner, I like something more eclectic.

      PubBelly sounds perfect, actually. I read your wonderful blog post on it. My daughter is my 21 year old and goes to school in NYC. My son 15 loves small plates and many of them. They are both adventurous eaters, and PubBelly sounds fun. The live music is a bonus.

      I'm going to check out the menu of Meat Market. We're not big steakhouse fans and the name led me to dismiss it earlier. I will also look at De Rodriguez Cuba.

      Thanks for all your help. I guess WISH would not be the right choice for us? Your picks sound exactly what I was looking for and I can't wait to be there!

      1. re: jojoro

        Meat Market is not exclusively a steakhouse despite the name. There's a decent selection of crudos and raw bar type items to start, and several fish and other non-steak options for entrées.

        I really don't know one way or the other about Wish, I just haven't been there in too long and too many chefs ago. If nothing else, it's a beautiful location and one of the nicest places for outdoor dining on South Beach.

        I should clarify: the music at PubBelly is not live, someone's just got a good playlist going on their iPod there.

        Meat Market
        915 Lincoln road, Miami Beach, FL 33139

          1. re: jojoro

            I've not been to De Rodriguez Ocean except for a sort-of pre-opening event, and only tried a couple of the chef's dishes. So I can't really comment on the food, but I like the physical space of De Rodriguez Cuba must better. It's in the Astor Hotel which is a gorgeous Art Deco space that's been very nicely cleaned up.

            1. re: Frodnesor

              Thanks again, I just looked closely at the menu and location. It does look amazing!

              1. re: jojoro

                As usual Frod has great suggestions.
                The Joe's picnic idea is ideal as the restaurant can be stuffy and old school (plus the 2+ hour wait doesn't help).
                Meat Market is good, but maybe for your Saturday night dinner as maybe on Friday you won't feel like getting decked out after flying and checking into the hotel. Avoid Emeril's as you said. Pubbelly, although further from the hotel, would be a good casual place your first night. It's in an off the beaten path area of the beach. Closeby is Burgers+Beer, a burger place with a bit better than decent burgers, again casual.
                Had a corporate event at Wish a few months ago and it was not good. And you're right about the vibe, kinda romantic. Again, Meat Market, with a table outside, would be a good bet for a great dinner coupled with Lincoln Road peoplewatching.
                Barton G, well, guess that's just going to happen. The location is also off the beaten path a bit as it's located in a house in a mainly residential neighborhood.

                Barton G Restaurant
                1427 West Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

                Meat Market
                915 Lincoln road, Miami Beach, FL 33139

                1. re: lax2mia

                  Thanks, lax, for your helpful advice. I have a reservation for meat Market for Friday night, but you have a good point about not knowing how we're going to feel after the flight. I'm glad to have some options.

                  We are booked for Barton G's for Saturday night after all. I was going to cancel, but several friends of my daughter's got her excited about it. Oh well. I do think they'll enjoy it even if it is mediocre and over-priced. I wish i hadn't discussed it with them!

                  We still have Sunday night open. I've gotten advice from friends ranging from Novocento, Spiga, Tantra, Joe's, Azul, etc plus the great recs here such as PubBelly. I 'm hoping that the concierge at the Loews will be able to help me narrow it down.

                  Thanks again.

                  1. re: jojoro

                    As a general rule, concierges are useless at best.

                    I would stick to the recs on this board frankly.

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      Thanks for the tip, tpigeon. I don't travel much.

                      1. re: jojoro

                        I just wanted to thank everyone for the dining suggestions for our trip. We got back last night -- had a great time. Here's my input over our restaurant choices.

                        Meat Market was packed. We had a 10:00 reservation for Friday night and arrived on time. The 3 of us were finally seated at 11:00 PM at a table outside. Meanwhile, I had seen people who arrived later than us get seated before us. I kept on speaking to the hostess (I was with daughter 21 and son 15) and she had to keep asking some unknown person if she could give us a table. I guess we just weren't beautiful enough! I didn't let it wreck our time. Our waiter was great and we had 3 great appetizers, 3 entrees, 2 sides, fancy cocktails, and 2 desserts. Everything was delicious and the server was wonderful to us.

                        We did end up going to Barton G's Saturday night. Again, great server. We ate inside and had a lot of fun watching what the others around us ordered. Food was tasty but just as its been said here before, the presentation is what made it fun. My kids loved it, of course, and it was worth the price of the bill to me for that.

                        We ended up going to Joe's Stone Crab on our last night. It was a nice experience. We had never had stone crabs before but all three of us felt that they would have been better served warm. We got the skinny sweet potato fries and the spinach sides. Nothing great. I've had better. The same goes for the key lime pie. Just OK. We loved our whole evening, though.

                        We had breakfast at News Cafe. The food was OK. The service was polite and quick. The location is perfect for people watching and taking in the scenery.

                        We ate Cuban sandwiches at David's where we encountered our worst service of all for the trip. It was Monday mid-morning and they weren't overly busy. We had to ask for everything be it napkins, coffee refills, menus, etc. The sandwiches were bland at best and the insides were cold with unmelted cheese. I loved my cups of cuban coffee, though.

                        We also stopped for ice cream at Frieze. Nothing special there, not the server, not the variety, not the actual product.

                        We loved the Loews. Service was outstanding as were the drinks and food we had poolside.

                        Other places we had drinks or a snack were Mangos, the Cavalier Hotel, and Tequila Chicas. All were fun outside places to have a drink and good for people watching.

                        It was Art Deco weekend and there were a lot of vendors set up on Ocean Drive. We regret not having enough room in our stomachs to sample the Arepas they were selling. Those looked good.

                        I hope to get back to SoBE again. Thanks.

                        Joe's Stone Crab
                        11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

                        Barton G Restaurant
                        1427 West Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

                        Meat Market
                        915 Lincoln road, Miami Beach, FL 33139

                        Tequila Chica's
                        1501 Collins Ave Ste 112, Miami Beach, FL 33139

                        1. re: jojoro

                          Thanks for the honest report back. It's nice to get an out-of-towner's perspective. Glad you enjoyed Miami!

                          1. re: Blind Mind

                            You're welcome. We really enjoyed our time in South Beach. I was worried it wouldn't be family friendly, and it was. I hope to be back for a girlfriends trip. I thought that the prices were similar to Philadelphia spots. The vast choices of outside dining is incredible. I would take any one of them over a cold night in Philadelphia! Even in the summer, we do not have so many choices for outside dining. It was a party every night. Enjoy your city! No place is perfect.