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What great ethnic food in Miami won't I find in NYC?

DaveCook Nov 2, 2012 04:40 PM

Later this month I'll be visiting for a week, for the first time in many years. More-casual fare preferred; atmosphere not so important; any neighborhood OK, at least while I'm chowing solo.

I've explored New York's multinational foodways in depth, but I'm sure that Miami (and vicinity) has much to offer that's less familiar to me. Nicaraguan, Cuban that's not hybridized by Chinese, and American Southern are three possible avenues of chow. What else would you suggest? Thanks in advance.

Dave Cook

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  1. m
    mambomedia Nov 2, 2012 06:41 PM

    The array of great Peruvian spots in Miami has always delight me. Ceviche, causa, tiradito, cilantro soup, anticucho, y mucho mas. I have just scratched the surface. Places range from working class to flashy in terms of atmosphere. Here are a few:

    Farolito (Coral Way)
    Ceviche 105 (downtown)
    Pollos y Jarras (downtown)
    Limon y Sabor (Biscayne)
    El Gran Inka (Brickell Ave.)

    This is by no means the best of list. I am sure others will weigh in,

    There are also some good Haitian Spots, which I can't remember finding much of in New York.
    Tap Tap (Miami Beach) $$
    Chef Creole (Little Haiti)
    Chez Le Bebe (Little Haiti). Haven't been. Heard mixed reviews.

    1. t
      tpigeon Nov 2, 2012 07:56 PM

      In general, we do central and south american and carribean food better than NYC does -- except mexican.

      1. Frodnesor Nov 2, 2012 09:34 PM

        There's plenty of Cuban here that has nothing to do with Chinese food (indeed, Cuban-Chinese hybrids aren't really too much of a "thing" in Miami). You'll find several threads on Cuban food on this board, most are older but not much changes on that front, and for a quick breakdown, here's a good summary:


        There's is Nicaraguan - Andrew Zimmern loved Fritanga Montelimar when he was here, I hear good things about Fritanga Monimbo too - and indeed much of Central and South America is well represented here.

        American Southern is not really a great option in Miami. What many people don't understand is that for the most part, the "South" pretty much ends, and Latin America begins, at the northern end of the Miami-Dade County border. We don't really have good Southern food here, and we don't have great BBQ either.

        Instead I'd suggest focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean. Aside from Cuban and Nicaraguan:

        Uruguay - go to El Rey del Chivito and order the chivito sandwich, which is great. Or get a slice of pizza topped with faina (a chickpea fritter type thing), which is only OK, but authentically Uruguayan.

        Argentina - go to Graziano's, which is best of breed here, or Las Vacas Gordas, which is my local haunt, and order a parrillada. For baked goods, especially sweet stuff, I like Buenos Aires Bakery.

        Colombia - not to underestimate an entire country's cuisine, but it's kind of mostly late night drunk food to me; still, a hot dog doused in a bunch of toppings at La Perrada de Edgar or La Moon is an experience.

        Venezuela - I've had some very satisfying lunches lately at Doggi's Churrasqueria in Coral Gables: good stuffed arepas and I really like the cachapa with asado negro. Also, Moises Bakery does great baked goods - Argentine and Venezuelan style empanadas, tequeños, cachitos are all very good there.

        Peru - aside from the places mentioned in the earlier post, Francesco in Coral Gables has nice ceviches and an excellent arroz negro. Peruvian rotisserie chicken can also be excellent, but I've still not yet found anything to replace my favorite, Edy's, which closed a couple years ago.

        Haiti - for a slightly more upscale, cleaned-up experience, go to Tap Tap on the Beach. For the real deal, there's a stretch of places along NE 2nd Ave. in the blocks between the 50s and 70s which mostly seem to change names every six months. Chez Le Bebe on 54th St. has been around a while but doesn't always get the greatest marks from the health inspectors. I've heard good things about Naomi's. Chez Rosie had been operating out of the space on Biscayne Blvd. and 67th St. lately known, somewhat confusingly, as "Who at 67th" - and was very good - but I'm not sure it's there anymore, haven't seen the sign lately (which I suppose raises the question - "Who at 67th?").

        Jamaica - I've had good curried goat from B&M Market, wished their jerk chicken was spicier. There are several other places around town I've not tried.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Frodnesor
          mambomedia Nov 4, 2012 01:48 PM

          Brooklyn definitely beats Miami in the Jamaican and Trini department, although there are some spots in Broward. In Miami, Clive's is my favorite, at North Miami Ave. and 29th St. It a little family-run lunch counter spot, with great oxtail, curry goat, jerk chicken, etc. It's more of a lunch than dinner spot, so go early.

        2. n
          Nick Nov 3, 2012 05:46 AM

          I was also going to suggest El Rey del Chivito. I'm not sure how many Uruguayan places you have up there. I've also gotten some pretty good Venezuelan stuffed arepas from the Los Chamos food truck, so you might jump on that if you see it around.

          La Camaronera might be another place to check out for Cuban fried seafood.

          Also, while not necessarily "ethnic," if I had friends coming from NYC to Miami at the end of November, I might suggest getting some stone crabs to go from Joe's and eating them in South Point Park for sunset. That's probably something you couldn't do up north. Their fried chicken and lobster reuben are great too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Nick
            Frodnesor Nov 3, 2012 12:52 PM

            Good call on La Camaronera.

            Mr. Good Stuff truck for stuffed arepas too.

          2. t
            tpigeon Nov 3, 2012 02:50 PM

            Now that others have chimed in that know this stuff better than I do, I will add my two cents.

            Pappo Llega y Pon - pork sandwich
            El Mago de Las Fritas -- you must get a frita, it is pretty much unique to miami.

            If you decide to do Grazianos, go to the one on Bird Rd. It is the original and the best one. It is the only one that cooks their meat out of a pit as opposed to a gas grill.

            3 Replies
            1. re: tpigeon
              tpigeon Nov 3, 2012 03:01 PM

              Might as well add My Ceviche to the list.

              1. re: tpigeon
                Nick Nov 4, 2012 06:51 AM

                I totally forgot to mention fritas! Good call. Not to totally derail this discussion, but do you like El Mago over El Rey de las Fritas? I've only tried El Rey.

                1. re: Nick
                  tpigeon Nov 5, 2012 07:58 AM

                  El Mago is my favorite. Tried El Ray once but like El Mago more so it is my go to.

              2. The Chowfather Nov 4, 2012 05:57 AM

                What's the current word on Boteco on 79th street? worth checking out for Brazilian>?

                2 Replies
                1. re: The Chowfather
                  Nick Nov 4, 2012 06:54 AM

                  I went to Boteco for Saturday feijoada a few weeks ago and thought it was great. Granted, I've only had feijoada a few times, but I thought it was delicious. They serve it buffet style, and it was a pretty good value, plus fun to make yourself a beautiful plate of all that different stuff. The live samba band inside also adds a lot. I think a lot of their other food is overpriced, but Saturday afternoon was a good deal and a lot of fun. It's definitely an immersive experience.

                  1. re: Nick
                    Frodnesor Nov 4, 2012 07:37 AM

                    I haven't gone for feijoada day in ages but it was good when I did it (couple years ago at this point). The regular menu used to be decent, but I agree the value declined without any corresponding increase in quality. The caipirinhas are good, and the food gets better the more caipirinhas you have.

                2. JungMann Nov 5, 2012 10:45 AM

                  A place that might also catch your fancy is what is ostensibly a shop inside a mall downtown that moonlights as a Filipino restaurant for the workers on docked cruise ships. It is reminiscent of the food stalls in Flushing, Queens, but with pointing (turo-turo) much more comprehensible.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: JungMann
                    Nick Nov 5, 2012 12:42 PM

                    Can you be a little more specific about where this place is?

                    1. re: Nick
                      JungMann Nov 5, 2012 01:51 PM

                      I stumbled upon it when I was walking southward from Gesu Church near the train downtown. It was a completely unmarked spot that I would not have noticed had I not seen a Filipino flag. I'll take a look through some pictures to see if I can find nearby landmarks.

                      1. re: JungMann
                        LargeLife Nov 6, 2012 04:52 AM

                        Hard to impress NYrs as everything is better in NY, right?.....Bagels, Pizza, Chinese, Italian....yada...yada....yada....There is excellent Mexican in South Florida....in Homestead / Florida City.....And its as good as it gets....NicaMex....Rositas.....Casita Tejas.....(all better than El Toro Taco although folks love the fact that they can bring in their own libations there).......These aren't flashy places....Local joints....Solid Mexican fare....Not crazy spicy....Not Rocco's Tacos....'Platas Tipicas".....Reasonably priced....

                        Ft. Pierce, FL

                        1. re: JungMann
                          DaveCook Nov 13, 2012 03:49 AM

                          Any further clues on the location of this turo-turo?

                          Dave Cook

                          1. re: DaveCook
                            Frodnesor Nov 13, 2012 05:22 AM

                            The address of this place would be right, a couple blocks south of the church, but it's closed:


                            Could also be this place, which is east, not south, of the church:


                            1. re: Frodnesor
                              JungMann Nov 13, 2012 06:24 AM

                              Cruise Link sounds like the right spot. It was a convenience store that treated shiphands' homesickness with Asian sundries and homemade meals. Their website seems to still be up and running; not sure if that means they are still open.

                              1. re: JungMann
                                DaveCook Nov 13, 2012 07:27 PM

                                Unfortunately, CruiseLink has indeed vanished. Their space in the mall is occupied by another business, and their Yahoo account is no longer active. Thanks for the thought, though.

                                Dave Cook

                                1. re: DaveCook
                                  JungMann Nov 14, 2012 09:31 AM

                                  Sorry to have sent you on a fruitless chase. I hope your wanderings downtown at least turned up some good pandebono and empanadas.

                                  1. re: DaveCook
                                    taiga Nov 15, 2012 09:23 AM

                                    There is a Filipino place down south in Miami called Pampanguena which I've eaten at on a number of occasions.

                      2. non sequitur Nov 6, 2012 06:05 AM

                        Not so much ethnic, but you won't find many stone crabs in NYC.
                        You won't even find them here part of the year, but they are in season now.

                        1. DaveCook Nov 6, 2012 06:25 AM

                          Thank you all for your suggestions. Let me press just a bit further. Are there any restaurants that specialize in the food of some of the smaller Caribbean nations (Antigua, Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and the like) or that serve dishes from such countries on the weekend? And, though I recognize that Miami relies much less on public transportation than does New York, are there any pockets of street vendors that position themselves outside Metrorail stations, or near hospitals, schools, and what-have-you?

                          Dave Cook

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DaveCook
                            taiga Nov 7, 2012 11:32 AM

                            Well there is a Trinidadian place I go to every so often called Caribbean Delite but it's way down south on Colonial Drive in Perrine/Palmetto Bay. they have a lot of unusual fried and curried things like roti, palourie, doubles, etc.

                          2. DaveCook Jan 1, 2013 10:19 AM

                            Thanks to all for your suggestions. I don't know that I would have gone out of my way for a Cuban sandwich (croquette included) at Enriqueta's, or added a sliver of faina to my pizza, or sought out a frita from "The Magician" rather than "The King" without your help. I was fortunate enough, too, to stumble across Haitian chestnuts and wild canistels. Yardbird's fried chicken, if you haven't tried it, is excellent; so are stone crab claws, especially outdoors, with a waterside view. Thanks again.

                            Dave Cook

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: DaveCook
                              Frodnesor Jan 1, 2013 12:03 PM

                              Thanks for the report back - just took a look at your posts, seems you did pretty well.

                              1. re: DaveCook
                                Nick Jan 10, 2013 12:49 PM

                                Indeed. It looks like you definitely made the most out of your time here.

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