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NYC Hound in Miami for a few days

Needing to escape the cold, I'll be heading to Miami in a few weeks for four days with time for four lunches and three dinners and will be renting a car. I've been to Miami many times before, but my last visit was about six years ago. Prefer lunches to be a bit more on the casual side. No price limit, but I hate overpaying for things. Also not a fan of typical brunch food -- i.e. pancakes, eggs and bacon, etc. And I'd rather not go to a restaurant that I can find in NYC -- ie. Scarpetta, Shake Shack, Nobu, etc -- though it seems like Shake Shack is one of the cheaper options in South Beach.

These restaurants are a must: Joe's (DH loves stone crabs), Michy's and Michael's Genuine.

I'm debating between these places:
Versailles(because of the whole experience -- but open to trying something else is the food is vastly superior)
Pub Belly
Chalan on the Beach
Ola
Indomania
Gigi
The Forge
Alta Mare

Any opinions on the restaurants I've mentioned previously? And any more recs?

And as I've only done Joe's take-out before, how long will the wait be on a weekend around 7P for a table?

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  1. lunches
    Red Light
    Francesco
    Graziano's - the original on bird rd.
    Sakaya Kitchen

    Your 3 choices are good dinner choices
    Get the killer crab claws at joes as well - they are expensive but excellent.

    I picked places that I think Miami does as well or better than NY.

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    Red Light
    7700 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

    Graziano's Restaurant
    9227 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

    1. Your wait will be about 1.5 hours with joes but there is a bar.

      1. Tipigeon, thanks for your input. I haven't heard of Francesco but it sounds great. There really is no good high end Peruvian in NYC. I think I'll probably want to do this for dinner so maybe I'll do Joe's take a way for lunch so I don't have to wait. I'm assuming by killer crab claws, you're talking about the jumbo size. And Sakaya Kitchen and Red Light also sound like it's up my alley.

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        Red Light
        7700 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

        22 Replies
        1. re: Miss Needle

          I'm not a big fan of Red Light. The prices are good, but I think the food is overrated and the service is awful. I like Sakaya, Pubbelly and Gigi, although I haven't been to Gigi since Jeff McInnis left. I'd avoid the Forge.

          Other places to consider that I'm not sure NYC has a real equivalent to (although it has most things) are Hakkasan and Zuma.

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          Red Light
          7700 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

          Hakkasan
          Miami Beach, FL, Miami Beach, FL

          1. re: Fineas

            Hakkasan is good but will soon be in NYC.

            Zuma is nice (beautiful space worth going to alone for that) and good but I would not make a special trip for it outside the ambiance.

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            Hakkasan
            Miami Beach, FL, Miami Beach, FL

            1. re: tpigeon

              Really? God, I think the food at Zuma is great. I'll even eat the corn on the cob there and love it and I generally hate corn on the cob!

              1. re: nikklos

                I think it is very good but I think Nobu beats it where they have similar dishes. Shrimp, black cod, etc.

                I should have said very good in my first reply.

                Very off topic but the best corn on the cob I had in my life was at cafe habana in NYC. Makes zuma look like amatuer hour.

                1. re: tpigeon

                  Zuma is so much more than that though (granted I have purposely avoided the cod and the sushi). The Lobster Miso Soup and the Lamb Chops are worth the trip alone.

                  1. re: nikklos

                    Actually, I would do Yakko San over Zuma if we are talking only about food. But I think you can get the same kind of food experience (japanese pub food) from places like Ippudo in NYC (which I have not been to).

                    I would only go to Naoe for sushi coming from NY. It is the only one that measures up to the great places in ny.

                    Please note that I have not been to Yakko San since they moved a few weeks ago but I have heard it is just as good as ever.

            2. re: Fineas

              The service at red light is not good. However, the food is great. Shrimp and ribs in particular. I have exprienced very long wait times for the food but it was always piping hot when I received it so it was not our server's fault.

            3. re: Miss Needle

              I would check and make sure Red Light is doing lunch service, not sure, especially with temperatures warming up.

              At Joe's I actually prefer smaller sizes to the jumbo crab claws. My favorite are the selects, which are betewen med and large - a bit more work, but sweeter, better quality meat and a much better value IMO.

              You've got a pretty good list. The food is not exceptional at Versailles, but it is as you say an experience. If you're looking for value you will not find it at the Forge, but that is another "experience" restaurant (and the food is not bad, just a bit pricey).

              I've been back to Gigi twice since McInnis left, and haven't noticed much difference.

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              Red Light
              7700 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

              1. re: Frodnesor

                I second Zuma. While there may be robata grill in NYC, I cannot think of an equivalent experience.

                Come to think of it, I also second Graziano's (on Bird Road) for the same reason.

                Places like Gigi and Sakaya Kitchen, I would avoid. You get much better at any of the Momofukus.

                You are on target with Michael's and Joe's is most definitely a singular Miami experience.

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                Graziano's Restaurant
                9227 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

                1. re: nikklos

                  I disagree with Momofuku vs Sakaya kitchen. I think the experiences and food are different enough to make it worthwile. Momofuku (noodlebar, milk, ssam) is not much better than sakaya.

                  1. re: tpigeon

                    Even if the Momofukus are a little better, why come to Miami and waste a meal on a NYC knock-off?

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      But I will say, Gigi, in particular, is much more of a rip-off of Momofuku than Sakaya Kitchen.

                      1. re: nikklos

                        Because sakaya is really good and different enough. I would eat at ssam if I went to ny and if I was coming to miami, I would eat at sakaya. I like Gigi but cannot say the same. The burger and tater tots with cheese alone make sakaya worth the trip.

                  2. re: Frodnesor

                    Definitely check on red light for lunch. Call and talk to a human being before trying lunch there.

                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      We ate at The Forge last weekend, and although we had a great time, the food was very mediocre, and very expensive. I ordered the burger medium rare and sent it back twice. The first time it came out well done and the second time it came out well-done and missing the lobster marmalade on top. They finally gave up and said they were taking it off the bill. My husband's steak was overcooked also, and our friend's duck was overcooked. The spaghetti with kale and poached egg came out the first time with the egg cooked through. It came out better the second time but was bland, bland, bland. The only really good thing we ordered was the Grand Marnier souffle - which was delicious! Fun atmosphere but don't go for the food!

                    2. re: Miss Needle

                      I am talking about the king crab claws not the jumbo stone crab claws. As for stone crabs, I prefer selects after having them side by side with the Jumbos/Colossals.

                      Edit - Joes is one of the few places that serve the entire alaskan king crab claw. This is a dinner only option and is my favorite thing to eat there.

                      1. re: tpigeon

                        If you get the king crab claw, get it hot and eat it with drawn butter like lobster. Mustard sauce is for the stone crabs.

                        1. re: tpigeon

                          I just had lunch at Joe's on Saturday and they had the King Crab Claw. Delicious.

                        2. re: Miss Needle

                          If you're looking for high end Peruvian, Francesco's isn't it althoug h everyone seems to think so. Try La Cofradia in Coral Gables. The cuisine, decor and style of the restaurant is a mirror of fine dining spots in Lima. Coming from a NYC transplant trust me its without a doubt the best in Miami.

                          1. re: TheInsider

                            La Cofradia looks great as well. This is going to make my selections even more difficult.

                            -----
                            La Cofradia
                            , Miami, FL 33179

                            1. re: TheInsider

                              Francesco blows La Cofradia away for Peruvian. La Cofradia has more glitz and glam...and you pay for it.

                              -----
                              La Cofradia
                              , Miami, FL 33179

                          2. I just got back Tuesday and find that I can not be in South Florida on a Sunday without going to Michael's for brunch.The onion dip and chip starter, kimchi benidect, duck confit hash,crispy rice cake,shrimp and grits, the list is endless. Reserve now for the patio. I have been twice for dinner and once was very disapointed in an extremely fatty pork dish and bland pasta course. I was at Versailes on Sunday night and while the food was decent (roast pork sandwich, tamale, mamey shake, arroz con pollo), the roving band interesting, the highlight was the cortadito and guava pastry enjoyed at the outside bar. I would do El Rey De Las Fritas for a burger and then head to Versailles for the dessert.

                            1. I would suggest trying:

                              SugarCane (for a cool Miami/Latin vibe, with excellent latin and asian tapas style dishes)

                              Pub Belly (a nice evening place to stop by..generally strong, if rich food, and great beers.)

                              Francesco's (Coral Gables, a very strong Peruvian foodie place.)

                              Jaguar (For lunch, in Coconut Grove, great vibe and nice pan - Latin choices, great ceviche as well as grilled entrees, churrasco is excellent.)

                              Try an oddly named place called "Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita" on a Thursday night, for a drink only, on the terrace bar (This is a raucous place, with a great, colorful, cheery, Colombian singles scene...one of those "only in Miami" places. Unique and fun.)

                              Just up the street in Brickell is The River Seafood & Oyster Bar. This place has fantastic oysters, incredibly fresh fish, and generally great food. Underrated, I think this place is a star. And it is just up road in Brickell from "Dolores...but you Can Call Me Lolita," so you could conceivably walk to it from there.

                              Hiro's Yakko San..near Aventura, great pub-style place, Japanese, open very late.

                              IceBox Cafe (A great Miami Beach spot that has a bit of a SoHo vibe. It's great for lunch, off Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Great salads, smoothies, desserts. )

                              Garcia's (for lunch, a classic fish shack on the Miami River, terrific and fresh fish and stone crabs. Place with real character...everyone from the police to the mayor to musicians show up.)

                              AltaMar is great, too, for seafood, if a bit less original than those on list above.

                              Enjoy.