Restaurant Crawl Advice
First, I know nothing about Miami dining.
We will be in Miami on a Monday afternoon. I would like an area where we can park the car, start around 10h30-11h00, and spend three to fours hours walking to four or five great restaurants in a safe neighborhood/area. I like to avoid chains. Any type of food is fine. We are from NC, so I feel like we should enjoy some of the great ethnic food options we do not have here (in my specific area). Money is not a huge obstacle although I do not want to drop $100 at each stop. We might do a plate, cocktail/glass of wine at each spot and move on. Any help/advice, including the area and restaurant names, is greatly appreciated.
We look forward to Miami!
I'm a little confused by the "Monday afternoon" "10h30-11h00" reference, but I'd suggest 3 main options:
(1) Purdy Avenue / 20th Street Miami Beach - Pubbelly (Asian Gastropub), Pubbelly Sushi (contemporary sushi), Barceloneta (Spanish) are all right next to each other on 20th St. - same owners but each place has its own thing and all do a small plates type of menu. (Only I think the original Pubbelly may be closed Mondays). Also right down the street are Sardinia (regional Italian, several antipasti options) and Burger & Beer Joint (just like it sounds).
(2) Midtown Miami - Sugarcane (tapas / robata / sushi), Sustain (modern American, local ingredients), Sakaya Kitchen (casual counter-style service, contemporary Asian), Salumeria 104 (Italian), and several others are all within a couple blocks of each other. Gigi is only a couple blocks over on other side of Miami Avenue. Several other places around there as well.
(3) North Beach - if you're serious about wanting to try local flavors, several options are congregated around Collins Ave. & 71st St. - El Rey del Chivito (Uruguayan), La Perrada de Edgar (Colombian hot dogs), Buenos Aires Bakery (Argentine), Mixtura (Peruvian - new, haven't tried yet), then just a couple blocks further north, Sazon (Cuban) and Moises Bakery (Venezuelan baked goods). These are much more downscale places, less conducive to the "small plate and a cocktail" type of thing.
This is a great idea and I'm sure you'll get much input.
My recs would be either some area of South Beach or the Midtown/Design District neighborhood. It's a tossup between the two as the food is better in the MDD area but the South Beach locale makes for a nicer walk.
In the Design District you have Sra Martinez for spanish tapas and great cocktails and Michael's Genuine for local American (which includes small plates) in a neighborhood that's chock full of designer furniture stores and boutique shops. Across 36th St. is Midtown which is a retail complex with chain stores but great restaurants. In that area you've got gigi (difficult to describe, best to check their website for a menu), Sugarcane (eclectic small plates) and Sustain (local/sustainable, small plates, great cocktails). Again Midtown is more of a chain retail area (Target, HomeGoods) but these restaurants make it worth a visit.
Ocean Drive and/or Lincoln Road South Beach
JOE'S STONE CRABS
SMITH & WOLLENSKY
FRONT PORCH CAFE
Are all decent options.
U may want to move the car if you plan to venture to Joe's which is a Miami Beach institution. Also very close to Joe's is Prime 112 Nikki Beach Club and S&W which is on the Water with outside seating. DO NOT miss Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive (5-15TH Streets) in SOUTH BEACH!
I have trouble imagining how you you could do this as a "crawl" or how several places otherwise fit the bill for a number of reasons:
1 - the distance from Lincoln Road (Sushi Samba, Paul, Rosinella) to SoFi (Joe's, S&W, Prime 112, Nikki Beach) is about 2 miles. That's kind of a long haul.
2 - Several of these places (BLT, S&W, P112) are steakhouses, not exactly conducive to "grab a bite and move on" eating.
3 - At least a couple of these places (Joe's, P112) are pretty much always a long wait.
4 - OP asked for no chains (S&W, Paul).
5 - Many have mediocre at best food. Even "decent" is probably a stretch for at least a few.
Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive are fun to walk, especially for tourists. But I strain to think of more than 1-2 places at most on either of them that are worth eating at.
Okay, I'm going to make another suggestions that requires short and very easy drives from each spot. The food at each place is outstanding, all are highly ranked in Miami and open for lunch.
I would go in this order:
1. Dim sum @ Chef Philip Ho. (Thousand thread shrimp, scallop/truffle dumplings, steamed pork buns, black truffle egg custard tart, etc etc. lots of great stuff)
2. Japanese tapas @ Yakko-San (crispy bok choy, spinach butter, trigger fish jerky, takoyaki, kimchee buta, miso ramen, yakiniku don, chefs choice six)
3. Sushi @ Makoto- (oh-toro, scallop, orange clam, uni, frosty kobe fried rice, spicy tuna crispy rice)
4. Dessert- walk across the street and try the amazing desserts of Antonio Bachour at Atlantico/J&G Grill (St. Regis)
Times- 1-2 (4 minutes) 2-3 (6 minutes) 3-4 (1 minute by foot)