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Route 9 (Coral Gables) - incredible food, relaxed atmosphere, and CHEAP

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I tried this place at my friend's suggestion. He's a Coral Gables native and can be an annoying, food snob (we all have at LEAST one friend like that, right!). He'd been to Route 9 several times since their opening only 6 weeks ago, and he was raving about the place, so when I arrived in town (not from FL), we went straight there from the airport.

To say that we had a fun and amazing culinary experience would be an understatement. I've never experienced a restaurant to be as delicious and enjoyable in as non-pretentious and non-self-congratulatory way that Route 9 has managed to do.

The prices are all so low that we just went to town... a great bottle of red for $35 (my friend ordered, sorry I don't recall the name; my friend said this exact bottle usually goes for $50-55 at most area restaurants), and then came a steady stream of the following (which I've cut-n-pasted from the restaurant's website):

-BURRATA WITH FIG PRESERVE CROUTON, ARUGULA, AND OLIVE OIL
-SELECTION OF CHARCUTERIE WITH WHOLE GRAIN MUSTARD AND "IN-HOUSE" PICKLINGS
-PEI MUSSELS WITH CHORIZO, TOMATO CONFIT, WHITE WINE, AND GRILLED BREAD
-GRILLED BABY SQUID WITH LENTILS, ROASTED PEPPERS, AND CILANTRO
-FISH TACOS WITH HOUSEMADE GUACAMOLE AND SCALLION SOUR CREAM

Each dish was delicious, unique, and better than the previous. We ended up chatting with our waitress and then with one of the owners (Jerry or Jeremy, can't quite remember) for quite awhile afterwards. It's been a long time since I've walked out of a restaurant feeling as good as I did that night. I was filled, but not stuffed, and the bill at the end was a joke relative to the experience we had. We ended up tipping our waitress 25% because we felt like thieves.

I was kidding with my buddy afterwards that I may have to move down to Coral Gables so I can have more meals at Route 9.... "many a truth is said in jest"... I do look forward to my next trip down to Miami and will definitely make a meal at Route 9 a necessity. Here's their website: http://www.route9miami.com/index.php

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Route 9
1915 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134

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  1. Sounds great. When you say each dish was "better than the previous" is the order you have listed them the order in which you got them, i.e., did you list them from "worst" to best?

    1. I had high hopes for this place, but the one meal I had there was not impressive at all. I think the only overlap between my meal and the dishes you listed was the mussels with chorizo. I've had several versions of this dish, and this one was pretty mediocre. It had obviously spent a while in the kitchen before it made it to our table, so the broth was only luke warm, and all of the mussels had started to dry out a bit. It was OK, but I certainly didn't feel compelled to finish it. Really, everything was just OK, except for the desserts, which were just plain bad. The apples in the apple pie were leathery, as was the crust, and the bread pudding was a dry little slab. I don't see how stuff like that gets out of the kitchen.

      The folks who run the place seem nice enough, which really made me want to like the food. Maybe we caught them on an off night (this was a few weeks ago). Hopefully my experience was just a fluke.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Nick

        Fineas, at any given time, we had several dishes on the table, and when I used that expression ("each dish was better than the previous"), I didn't mean it quite so literally. Just that each dish was phenomenal, with no drop-off and no klunkers.

        Nick, I'm surprised by your experience there. It does sound like the mussels waited in the kitchen. FWIW, our mussels dish was piping hot, and we loved the spiciness of the chorizo with the brine and texture of the mussels.

        Anyhow, my friend told me there's new scoop on this place.... that some sort of local Miami newspaper came out with a less-than-favorable review, and that hours later, amidst allegations of the reviewer's integrity, the original review was pulled from the internet version -- has anyone heard about this??? To add another level of mystery is that the Miami Herald ON THE SAME DAY came out with a dazzling review.

        Very interesting... I'd be curious to hear more about peoples' experiences and insight if anyone knows about the review scandal....

        1. re: lobstaman

          It's been mentioned a few different places, but here was my take on the Route 9 Miami New Times review kerfuffle ->

          http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

          1. re: Frodnesor

            I ate at Route 9 earlier this week and found the service to be excellent with eager to please and knowledgable staff.
            We shared the cheese board for a starter; I particularly liked the sauces that accompanied the plate--one was a local honey and the other a pepper chutney-like sauce. Came with some warm toasted bread.
            Hamburger was perfect; served on a brioche type of bun with cheese (I opted out of the bacon). Burger was one of the best I've had here in Miami. French fries were just the way I like them-slightly browned and just a bit crispy.
            My only complaint was having to use metered parking on Ponce. But when I realized I was short on quarters and asked the waiter for change of a dollar bill, he came out with a couple of dollars worth of quarters and refused to take my singles.
            Overall great food and with such good service, they should do well...I certainly hope so.

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            Route 9
            1915 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134

      2. I ate at Route 9 recently with my husband and 2 kids (aged 9 and 7), and it was a hit with everyone. The food and service was very good. They seem to have a simple seasonal menu and use fresh ingredients in everything. I had the salmon poached in almond milk with spinach, sliced mandarin, and golden raisins, over jasmine rice. Simple but the salmon was well-cooked and tasty. My husband had the pappardelle pasta with short ribs and wild mushrooms in a truffle cream sauce, which he enjoyed. We each had a salad: mine was mesclun with mango, cranberries and nut-crusted goat cheese. His was thick asparagus topped with a poached egg, shaved parmesan and a light take on a Caesar-type dressing - nicely prepared and tasty. My kids shared and devoured a skirt steak, which was tender and cooked perfectly (medium), and the gnocchi mac 'n cheese, cheesy and dense and good. For dessert, we shared the banana cream pie special- delicious, light, with a subtle taste of banana and not overly sweet. My kids each had a vanilla cupcake with strawberry frosting, and these were quickly wolfed down. Also, none of the dishes were overly salted, a big pet-peeve of mine. This is not a kid's place per se, it is very much a grown-up restaurant, but they were attentive and gracious (the staff, that is!), and thankfully my kids behaved pretty well. On the night we were here, the volume in the dining room was uncharasterically low (by Miami standards, anyway), leading me to think it would be a nice date night restaurant. I saw several couples dining, although they had tables set for as many as 8 people. I asked if they would accommodate parties of 12 (for our adult group of dining out friends), and they seemed OK with this. I don't think this is your place if you're looking for complex, overly creative dishes that will wow you. However, if you are in the Gables and want simple, tasty, fresh food that is prepared well in a cozy environment, this is a reliable choice.

        1. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll give it a try. I felt the same way about Sweetwater in Boynton. http://www.sweetwater33.com/