One day in Miami [moved from Florida board]
Flying into Miami on our way down to the keys. Looking for favorite must not miss restaurant for lunch. Not upscale. Hole in the wall, great food. Seafood or cuban.
Also any recommendations while staying in the middle keys for great fresh seafood restaurant.
Foodie from Dallas
You should really try the Miami-Ft Lauderdale board for Miami recs. But if you're flying in and just hitting a lunch spot on your way south, I suggest El Palacio de los Jugos on Flager just south of the airport. It's more of a Cuban marketplace with lots of choices. Cash Only though. I fyou Google it you'll find a number of reviews and directions from MIA.
as for the Middle Keys, I suggest a search here but you can start with this threads. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/751893
El Palacio Restaurant
701 W Lancaster Rd, Orlando, FL 32809
For a terrific inexpensive & authentic cuban meal, I'd recommend Villa Habana (3398 Coral Way). Very affordable, huge portions and unbelievably yummy and frequented by mostly locals. I'm a native Miamian and I'd say they have the best black beans and rice, hands down other than at a friend's abuela's house;) Try the arroz con pollo or the ropa vieja which are incredible. But truthfully the whole menu rocks. Don't be turned off by the pedestrian decor, the food is so much better than the more expensive cuban restaurants in town. Trust me, you'll totally love the food! Or if you are in the mood for seafood, the whole fried snapper at Disco Fish is a total WOW. Disco fish is located at 1540 SW 67TH Ave and is basically a fresh seafood market that serves up their local fresh catches of the day and you can't go wrong being it always has a total latin atmosphere found only in Miami other than in Habana.
If you want seafood with broader American flavor trends other than latin influence, head further south to Captains Tavern which is a family run restaurant for over 30 odd years popular with locals in the know. They are located at 9621 S Dixie Hwy and basically on your way south towards the keys. The menu is pretty large and the wine list is pretty incredible and the fish is super fresh right from their very own seafood market around the corner.
Middle Keys suggestion, although more of a chain restaurant, Islandmorada Fish Company has a great location on a little harbour where tarpon, sharks etc can easily been seen as you dine al fresco to tiki torches etc and the food is decent, not great but satisfying. or there is a smaller place called lazy days restaurant that has nice catch of the day specials that's in Islandmorada as well. Anyhow, hope this helps! KIm
ps- just in case you are in the mood for Italian when flying into Miami, there is an amazing little place run by two brothers just north of the Airport and literally about a one mile ride from the terminal called Basilico. It has dishes that blend northern italy with Argentina and the wine list is awesome. The food is delicious and not at all like the fake american version of italian cusine. Basilico is tucked unassumingly into an unremarkable strip mall but the food is that of a high end Miami restaurant and totally worth a visit. Save room for dessert because the tiramisu, creme brulee, flan, chocolate souffle are all worth treating yourself to;) Definitely a hidden gem in Miami, even if it's not cuban cusine.
I don't think you will get great food at a hole in the wall. That said, there are a lot of cool, tasty places that fit the description. I am not a fan of the original Palacio de los Jugos, preferring their place on Coral Way because it is cleaner. It's good, but cafeteria food. La Moon on 8th in Brickell is interesting and Colombian. Pamela on Bird is tasty and Chilean. Versailles on 8th is a colorful institution and when on, solid authentic American-Cuban. The Captain's Tavern was a great suggestion for seafood with a cool old school nautical 50's vibe. The Patagonia in Doral is jumping and has authentic and cheap Argentinian. La Camaronera on Flagler near 20th is a trip for Grouper soup and fish sandwiches(but no chairs). Garcia's on the river has some charm. Graziano's in the Gables is casual and Argentinian. Look them up, and then choose!
Captain's Tavern Restaurant
9625 S Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33156
La Moon Restaurant
144 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33130