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Oct 8, 2012 05:27 PM

Visiting Miami in December - please help me decide........

We will be visiting as a family this December. I haven't been to Miami since 2010, so I am guessing that there are many new places to try. Staying near Key Biscayne and will have a car.

We will have a couple of evenings to dine as a couple, and then another 4 to dine as a family (kids are young teens and enjoy their food).

We will be going to Michael's Genuine on one of our "date nights" for sure. I just loved it there, having been once before.

Haven't been to the following places that I am hoping to try eventually and could use some advice, including whether to go with the family or as a couple:

Jaguar for ceviche (I have always wanted to go here since the 80"s!);
Versailles for a Cuban sandwich;
Pubbelly restos - which one? I like the sound of all of "em!
The Federal
Local Craft Beer + Food
River Oyster

Coral Gables and Coconut Grove and Brickell area are the best for us in terms of travel time.


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  1. No particular order except the first 4 are a bit more convenient than the last two for you:
    Nemesis Bistro
    Edge Steak Bar -- I like the burger and non steak items more than the steak.

    Pubbelly, Barceloneta and Macchialina are all close enough that it depends what you want. If you want italian, do Macchialina.

    If you want spanish tapas or high quality seafood and meats off the grill without much sauce, do Barceloneta.

    if you want inventive, high quality food with interesting sauces, do Pubbelly. I enjoy Pubbelly sushi as well but I don't think the kitchen is as strong on the cooked dishes as the others (it is still good though).

    Note, if you go early enough you could do any combination of the 3 (pubbelly, barceloneta and pubbelly sushi) by having a couple of dishes at one before going to another -- I do this often, they are that close to each other.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tpigeon

      The original Pubbelly is the best of the bunch for me. I have never done a pubbelly crawl, but doing that sounds like a great idea.

    2. You're right, Miami has changed a lot since 2010. It's pretty amazing to step back and think of the new spots that have popped up. Based on your list here's some thoughts:
      Jaguar is OK, nothing over the top. It'd be perfectly OK with kids.
      Versailles: their Cuban sandwich is nothing special. It's not bad, just you'll probably go more for the schtik of the place than the food. Actually the sandwiches at Oasis (just at the entrance to Village of KB) are just as good and it's a Key Biscayne institution. Best to drive in and get it to go and eat on the beach.
      Pubbelly: the original is my favorite, but I like Barceloneta as well. Not a fan of Pubbelly Sushi and haven't tried Macchialina. OK to go early with kids, gets a little hectic later.
      The Federal: probably out of the neighborhoods you're looking at, but inventive yet familiar food.
      Local: Haven't been since original chef left so won't comment
      River Oyster Bar: it's getting close to being a Miami institution. Great seafood, both local and imported. Fairly kid friendly, depending on the kids (if you check out their menu and it sounds good to the kids then there will be no issues).

      I would also add:
      Harry's Pizza: if you're going to the Design District area with the kids and want something casual. It's not your average pizza place (same owner as Michael's)

      TP has other great recs, both for date night (Bazaar, Tuyo, Nemesis) and ones where the kids may fit in easier (The Dutch, Edge)

      18 Replies
      1. re: lax2mia

        I'll politely disagree...with lax....Jaguar is better than OK....easily the best dining destination in The the ceviches and the fusion dishes are all excellent....I've taken large groups there and have had excellent results....The cuban sandwich at Versailles is quite good....but to be fair you can find a great cuban sandwhich at a 1,000 different places in the South Florida area...

        Will agree with River Oyster Bar......and would say that Brother Jimmy's for BBQ is very, very good and the kids will enjoy.....

        Joe's Stone Crabs is great if you haven't been in the area in 2 years of so......They open on Thursday and they're celebrating their 100th Anniversary this year.....

        Ft. Pierce, FL.

        1. re: LargeLife

          Agree with EMac - Jaguar is better than OK for the same reasons he's listed. I eat there fairly frequently. Your comment is a bit odd though since Jaguar didn't exist in the 80s...or 90s...or early 2000s... Another place in the Grove to try that would be great for kids is Lokal which has my favorite burger in Miami (make sure to get the grass fed patty). The shrimp tacos, tomato salad, and grass fed carpaccio are also standouts at Lokal.

          Sakaya Kitchen is also a great call for lunch with kids. River Oyster is one of my favorite spots as is Bazaar and MGFD.

          Lots of other good recs here. You really can't go wrong with much of what's listed. I will say that I'm not a huge fan of Pubbelly but I find it decent. I know I'm probably in the minority but I'm OK with that. Barceloneta was not good on my visit, Macchinalia was actually pretty good but I went for one of those family style Sunday meals so the experience might be different.

          1. re: Blind Mind

            I used to stay in Coconut Grove in the mid to late 80"s and I remember Jaguar being there - at least I think I do. You sure it hasn't been around since then?

            I remember when Mayfair opened and it was a sensational mall at that time. Used to stay at the Grand Bay hotel.

            Monty's was our family fav back then.

              1. re: Frodnesor

                So it wasn't there when I last stayed in Coconut Grove, which was around 1991. My mistake. Anyone know what places were there back then that are still around? It was a wild place back in those days.............lotsa fun!

                I must have seen Jaguar more recently - since the Cocowalk theatres opened - because I have been going there for movies since they opened.

                1. re: elasticwaistband

                  Greenstreet Cafe and Bouchon du Grove have been around forever it seems.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    For me, eating at Greenstreet, despite the lovely location, is a punishment. Le Bouchon is much more real.

                    1. re: taiga

                      Concur. Food at Bouchon is not outstanding but it's got the right bistro feel anyway.

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        Bouchon is serviceable French. Greenstreets is not good food really. Breakfast decent but high priced. You pay for chill sidewalk dining.

                        1. re: Blind Mind

                          Greenstreet is not really very expensive, but it's not really very good either. Only mentioned b/c OP asked about places that have been around since early 90's.

                          1. re: Frodnesor

                            Considering an American breakfast of eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and toast costs 2X or more than a heartier version of the same breakfast at Coral Bagels a few blocks away, I'd say it's a high priced breakfast.

                            1. re: Blind Mind

                              I love Coral Bagels, its cheap prices, AND its punishing atmosphere. It's an American slice of life. I think we all agree -- the Grove is no culinary paradise.

                2. re: Frodnesor

                  No, it didn't. That's just when Durazo moved here.

                  1. re: elasticwaistband

                    I've lived in the Grove for over 10 years and there was no Jaguar when I moved there. It opened maybe 7-8 years ago.

              2. re: lax2mia

                Wait - when did the chef for local leave? Who is chef there now?

                1. re: kevdog

                  Alberto Cabrera left The Local several months ago. Chef now is Vince Tien. Probably about 2/3 of the menu has been revamped.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    ahh...ok. I have only been with Vince Tien, never with chef cabrera. I did enjoy the food that vince offered though - being asian, I liked alot of the fusion of asian and southern cuisine.

              3. Thanks everyone for the terrific suggestions.

                New list is as follows then:

                Michael's (without kids)

                Nemesis Bistro (without kids)


                Jaguar (have to try their ceviches)

                Oasis (lunchtime Cuban sandwich)

                Harry's Pizza

                River Oyster

                @ LargeLife - we LOVE Joe's takeway!

                Thanks everyone. Will report back after our trip.

                12 Replies
                1. re: elasticwaistband

                  You should try My Ceviche while doing Joe's takeaway. Their ceviche is fantastic.

                  1. re: tpigeon

                    This place looks awesome. Maybe a pre-dinner snaack before we get Joe's to take home for the gang!

                    1. re: elasticwaistband

                      I ate on one of the two stools outside at My Ceviche yesterday. It was delicious. I also eat at the downtown Sakaya Kitchen every month after the Critical Mass bike ride. It is always creative and good and the $2 Craft beer draughts are quite cheap. Last, I ate at the Local last weekend and it too was quite tasty.

                  2. re: elasticwaistband

                    Just want you to keep in mind that although Oasis has some seating, I consider it a takeout place. It's a bit on the divey side but the food makes up for it. I'd mix it up on the sandwiches (i.e. a cuban, a medianoche, a pan con lechon and/or a pan con bistec). Make sure to throw in some croquettes. I'm making myself hungry.

                    1. re: lax2mia

                      Wow! After that I'm heading to the Milonga Cafe down south on US1 and SW 124 Street.....they claim to have the WORLD'S GREATEST PORK SANDWICH....."Pan con Lechon"....and after three visits there.....they may be right.....It's 20 minutes south of the grove if the traffic isn't too bad.....I will have to try Oasis....I'm hungry now too!!

                      Ft. Pierce, FL

                      1. re: LargeLife

                        Have you been to Papo Llega y Pon? That is my pork sandwich go to.

                      2. re: lax2mia

                        Thanks everyone. I forgot to dd the Pubbelly places. Think that we my try the original.

                        1. re: lax2mia

                          @ lax2mai re: Oasis:

                          This is perfect for us as we can take it back and eat on the beach in KB. Thanks. We usually end up doing Archie's pizza for our beach lunch but this sounds so, so much better.

                          1. re: elasticwaistband

                            Yes....I have been to Papo Llega.....and I liked their pork sandwhich very much.....and I go there before Marlins games (to their actual location on 17th Ave. / north of the stadium).....As much as I like their pork sandwich.....and I really do.....the pork sandwich at Cafe Milonga CRUSHES the Papo Llega sandwhich....and it should as it's twice as expensive....and its twice the size!.....It's also different taste wise at the pork in their sandwich is more 'pulled' than chopped....It's hot...steamy....and very, very savory......Love Papo Llega....but Cafe Milonga's claim as having the 'World's Best Pan Con Lechon" sandwich is very close to being true......It's unbelievable......

                            Ft. Pierce, FL

                                1. re: lax2mia

                                  That happens when we visit this site, doesn't it? I visit here and think of a new dining destination and I'm off to it.....Funny how this happens.....

                                  Enjoy hitting the new Fresh Market in The Falls......during the week....

                                  Ft. Pierce, FL

                      3. New challenge! For lunch, where can we find great chicken shawarma and submarine sandwiches. (Not the same place - or on the same day - lol!)

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: elasticwaistband

                          The best meatball and sausage heros are at macaluso's market. I think that is the only two kinds they serve.

                          1. re: tpigeon

                            Thanks! Never been but it has been on the list before!

                            Just looking at Sakaya Kitchen which wasn't around on my last visit. They opened a second location close to where we are staying. Worth checking it out? The menu looks interesting for sure.

                            1. re: elasticwaistband

                              Never been to the downtown location but I like Sakaya midtown and the food truck very much.

                              1. re: tpigeon

                                Downtown Sakaya is the same as midtown; always tasty. I like the nondescript Peruvian place Sabor A Peru next to Salsa Fiesta on Biscayne as well. I also like the atmosphere at Soya e Pomodoro downtown.

                        2. Thanks for the updates on this thread.

                          Whisk Gourmet has also come to my attention. Is this place within walking distance from the movie theatres at the Shops at Sunset? Looks like a good place to try with the family,

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: elasticwaistband

                            Yes, it's a quick 5-10 minute walk from Sunset Place. If Ace Hardware is open, you can cut through the store rather than walking around. Definitely worth trying with or without the family. Great food for everyone.

                            1. re: Blind Mind

                              Thanks for the info. The menu looks fantastic. Can't wait to try it. Looks like a good place for lunch before a movie too.

                              1. re: elasticwaistband

                                I had a fantastic cornbread crusted snapper buerre blanc there the other night. Also had the bbq quail with mustard bbq sauce (my personal favorite bbq sauce style) which was delicious. Both were on the specials menu and both home runs. For lunch, I highly recommend the fried green tomato sandwich on multigrain w/ the addition of a fried egg.