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Jul 27, 2011 08:58 PM

Please help with restaurant choices, too many choices, not enough time!

Hello, I'm having a hard time deciding between these restaurants - this is not my first time in Miami - but probably will be another 2 years before my next trip so I want to make sure I get the right mix of restaurants. In our previous trips we have tried Michy's, Michael's, Joe's, Yakko San, Solea +Mr. Chow (only because we were staying in the hotel, not out of choice), Hakkasan, Puerto Sagura, Hiro, Bourbon Steak

We are staying in the high 60's and Collins with no plans for a car. However, if we are looking at $60 cab rides for each meal, I will reconsider and get a car. There is just no place to eat around our hotel except for cheaper local ethnic restaurants.

Day 1
Lunch - Joe's (we will be there beginning of September - should I skip Joe's altogether? I know it is not the season but read about the Alaskan crabs legs...). Love Joe's, I think I will almost be mad at myself for not going there

Dinner - Naoe (though might be too far of a cab ride? Mapquest says 11 minutes, last time we tried to walk in for the last seating...didn't work)

Day 2
Brunch - Michaels

Dinner - TBD (we have never done the SOBE scene before, except for an ill fated stay at the W so thought it might be fun to try a restaurant that is in the hotel in case we want to stay for post dinner drinks). However, I do not want to sacrifice food for ambiance - so maybe which one has the best food?

Day 3
Lunch - TBD

The restaurants that I would like to try Hakkasan (actually, not really, not into Pan Asian but will make an exception if someone tells me it is really good), Casa Tua, Cecconi's, Sugarcane. We are from NYC so would like to avoid sister restaurants (Bond, Scarpetta, Nobu, unless the one in MIami is better than NYC). Thanks for your help! Too many choices, not enough time!

6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138

Bourbon Steak
19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura, FL 33180

Miami Beach, FL, Miami Beach, FL

Casa Tua
1700 James Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

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  1. I would definitely get a car for places you are planning to eat.

    There are places that are closer to you that I have either never been but am excited to go or not been to in a while. Frodnesor is much better for recs in this area than me. But here goes anyway.

    Sushi Deli
    Chow Down Grill
    Las Vacas Gordas
    El Ray de Chivito

    Two things you should know about hakkasan
    1) It is not pan asian, it is chinese
    2) a branch is opening this fall in NYC this fall

    Casa Tua is good but overpriced. I know several people who like Cecconi's and several people who think of it much like I think of Casa Tua. In my opinion, Scarpetta has the best italian food in miami. Which I know you don't want to go to.

    Going to Joe's off season is still worth it for the claws which are hard to find in restaurants. Legs are common. Get them steamed with butter. Pretty far cab ride.

    NAOE is too far for a cab ride. Rent a car, but worth going. Make a reservation.

    Michaels will be far by cab. Rent a car.

    Day 2 dinner - Sardinia (get the steak), Osteria del Teatro (closed sunday), Macaluso's, Prime 112 (don't get the steak), Pubbelly.

    Lunch day 3 I would eat by you. Probably sushi deli.

    Sushi Deli
    1412 79th Street Causeway, Miami Beach, FL 33141

    Las Vacas Gordas
    933 Normandy Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33141

    Macaluso's Restaurants
    1747 Alton Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139

    175 Sunny Isles Boulevard, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160

    Casa Tua
    1700 James Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

    Prime 112 Restaurant
    112 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

    3 Replies
    1. re: tpigeon

      Solid always! I know you think Casa Tua is overpriced but I'll stick with them as I've never had any disappointments and the atmosphere is awesome! Your list is awesome and next time I go to Sardinia I will get the steak! Always enjoy reading what you write.

      Ft. Pierce, FL

      Casa Tua
      1700 James Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

      1. re: tpigeon

        Thanks for your help! I think we have been to El Ray de Chivito - is this the artery clogging sandwich place? We went there for lunch - it was great! I will probably get a car - and do the drives myself.

        For lunch on day 3 - I think I will hit a cuban place on the way to the airport - the only cuban place I have been to is puerto suaga-maybe I'll try out Versaille (despite the lukewarm reviews). Furthermore, I might be on a Naoe high and probably best to stick to non Japanese for the rest of weekend.

        For Joe's - do you mean I should get the Alaskan crab claws instead of legs? Will they have stone crabs (frozen ones)?

        Still need one more dinner - maybe Sardinia (what is the scene)?

        1. re: jayk

          Chivito is indeed the heart attack place.

          Sardinia is nice but casual and not very sceney. Food is very good. Particularly the steak. They cook it in a wood burning oven (ribeye).

          Yes get the claws at Joes. It is both the entire leg and the claw. There are not many places that serve it and you would be hard pressed to find them in nyc. I would avoid stone crabs.

          Naoe is more a raw fish type place though there are usually some random cooked items in the bento box (always great)) , it is not much by volume. You can do a place like makoto and get cooked dishes and be fine.

          To be very frank with you, I like the cuban places I tried in NYC better than miami (margon, cafe habana). There is nothing wrong with going to Versailles and checking out the scene there. Just don't go in thinking you will have the best cuban meal of your life there.

      2. - If you like Joe's, go to Joe's, even if it's off-season for stone crabs. I enjoy the old-school atmosphere there too and particularly for lunch there are many nice and inexpensive options (the $5.95 1/2 fried chicken is one of the greatest deals in town).

        - Naoe is fantastic, but you must (1) make reservations (it is reservations only, no walk-ins at all); (2) be OK with omakase (chef's choice); and (3) have patience (a meal can easily take 3-4 hours with a 1/2 hour wait before any food appears).

        - If that doesn't work, Makoto in Bal Harbour is a very good suggestion as an alternative if you're in the mood for Japanese.

        - Michael's Genuine brunch is great, and even if you've been there before it's a bit different from the lunch/dinner menu (and of course the menu changes all the time anyway).

        - From 60s and Collins, everything will be about a 15 minute cab ride except for the Mid-Beach places (Hakkasan, Scarpetta, Gotham Steak, The Forge) and North Beach (which I've posted on extensively before and which you're right are mostly cheaper local / ethnic restaurants - though some are quite good).

        - Hakkasan is not Pan Asian. It is high-end contemporary Chinese. I haven't been in some time but it's generally quite good, and also quite expensive. Beautiful space, one of the most interesting in Miami I think.

        - I recently went to Cecconi's, which is close by for you (40s and Collins). Thought it was pretty good. Perhaps not exceptional, and maybe overpriced, but another very pretty setting and a very pleasing meal, particularly if you're in the mood for Italian. You can say the same of Scarpetta in the Fontainebleau where the food may be a bit better and the ambience not nearly as nice. The chef at Cecconi's used to be the chef at Casa Tua.

        - I like Sugarcane quite a bit and would say it's worth a drive/cab (renting a car may well be more economical). You might want to throw Sustain in the mix as well, right down the street. Or have drinks and some bites at Sugarcane and then walk over to Sustain for dinner. Or vice versa.

        - There are a few new restaurants that have opened on South Beach that I've not yet tried, and several more due to open soon, but no real dining destinations in the heart of South Beach right now. Note that if you're staying in high 60s and Collins, you are NOT in South Beach, which is low 20s and down. Probably the most interesting place to eat on South Beach right now is Pubbelly, though it's not really in the thick of things and maybe not your thing if you're not into Pan Asian (it's an Asian gastropub / tapas bar mashup).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Frodnesor

          Question for you guys - my friend told me to skip Naoe because it is not so different from some of the smaller NY Japanese omakase restaurants (like Kyo Ya, etc...). He likes Naoe - but doesn't think we should make a trip of going up for there for it - instead he thinks we should find something that we can't get or do not have yet in NYC. Like Hakkasan (I didn't realize it was high end contemporary Chinese - I just looked at the menu - ouch! If they do it well, like the ones in Shanghai or Beijing - I'm happy to give it a try - however, I sure will be unhappy if at those prices they send out Americanized Chinese food). There are no modern Chinese restaurants in NYC and it has been awhile since I was last in Asia.
          Thanks for the recommendation on Pubbelly. My two favorite types of foods, Asian and Spanish.
          Sorry for all the indecisions. Its hard picking restaurants when you know you won't be back in town for awhile. Can't decide on sticking to old favorites or trying new ones.

          Day 1
          Lunch - Joe's (old favorite)
          Dinner - Naoe or Hakkasan (good Japanese but perhaps something I can get in NYC vs. good chinese (BIG QUESTION mark))

          Day 2
          Brunch - Michaels (old favorite for dinner, first time for brunch)
          Dinner -Pubbelly or Cecconi/Casa Tua (interesting food vs. "miami" ambiance)

          Day 3
          Lunch - TBD (actually, I realized that I have been to Sardinia too but didn't get the steak - and we went for lunch) might do a repeat here on Day 3. Thinking perhaps it would be a good idea to do something easy and realiable before getting on a plane. Have had a bad experience eating bad sushi right before a 13 hour flight and another bad experience eating a from a hole in the wall SF mexican restaurant. Don't care to repeat that. :)

          Miami Beach, FL, Miami Beach, FL

        2. Versaille is great for the experience, but only "good" when it comes to Cuban food. since you liked El Ray de Chivito, I recommend you go to El Mago de las Fritas on 8th street and 58. A Frita is basically a burger where the meat patty is mixed with chorizo and served with shoestring potatoes (Fritas) all on a Cuban bread bun. If you haven't tried a Frita before, then I recommend you make a visit on your way to the airport. Im sure Chivito has similar items, but that's a Uruguayan place and El Mago is Cuban.