Miami Trip Report
Recently spent a few days visiting Miami in February. The commentary here was very helpful in planning so thought I would contribute a little about my experience as a visitor. I will break it out by neighborhood:
River Oyster and Seafood Bar: Stopped by the first time for a beer and some oysters and conch fritters. Oysters (Washington and New Englang) were good, not amazing (Can get better here in New England), conch fritters took forever and were good but I thought kind of bitter, but then I've never had conch before. The second time I came here with my wife who just arrived on a late flight and even though the kitchen was closing (10:30) they found a table and took great care of us. Dishes were all good (esp. whole chinese-style fried fish), not amazing, but solid. This place had a good vibe with a local after work crowd. Our server was great.
Cien Montaditos: My first time at this chain was overall a good experience. I think this a new location and it was pretty quiet at lunchtime on a weekday. Had a good simple tapas lunch of jamon iberico (tasty, a little dry, but I thought $9 was very reasonable), a couple little montadito sandwiches (tortilla- good, chistorra and piquillo pepper- OK). Any place I can get a plate of iberico and a cerveza Mahou I am going to be happy!
Graziano's Brickell: Lunch here one day and breakfast another, very quiet both times. Having lived in Argentina years ago I was excited to get real Argentine empanadas and facturas. For lunch 1 empanada de carne and clams with chorizo, both were delicious, simple, very fresh. For breakfast, lattes were good and as were the facturas (pastries). The medialunas had that slightly bready texture I remember but were still light and fresh. Service was very pleasant.
Miami Beach/South Beach:
Pubbelly - Came here twice on weeknights, and both times managed to get a seat at the bar. Location is a little out of the way but still walkable to main part of South Beach/Lincoln Mall, making it less touristy than other Sobe places I went. Pork belly dumplings and amberjack were probably the best dishes. Some dishes seem a little heavy handed but flavors were good and we enjoyed almost everything. I sort of expected more attitude but bartenders were very friendly. Barceloneta, next door, looked good too.
Yardbird - Ate at the bar one weeknight. Chicken and biscuits were very enjoyable, not amazing. One of the few places I went in Miami with good draft beer selection. Liked the ambiance, bartender was friendly but busy. More of a tourist scene. Fairly quiet at 7 when I arrived, but very busy an hour or so later.
Michy's - Dinner with the wife on a Saturday night, reserved a week before. A long cab ride from downtown, but hands down the best meal of the trip. We arrived to a full house, entering in the front door (apparently everyone comes in the back from the parking lot), and were taken to the bar to wait maybe 5 minutes. Our table was right next to the front door, which I thought was not great, but again not one person came in that way so it was actually nice. Other posters mentioned the ambiance as lacking or kitschy but we thought it had a nice feel. It had the quiet hum of a well run restaurant. Our waiter was knowledgeable and very pleasant but in a very low-key way. Apart from the ceviche, I was surprised by the number of really rich dishes on the menu, which was kind of a nice change for Miami. Duck confit (warm and crisp with with a really light shredded brussel sprout salad) and short rib (fall apart, super rich) and baked alaska were highlights. Glad we made the trip out here.
Michael's Genuine - On our last night we decided to come here based on a local friend's recommendation. Showed up around 7:30 on a Sunday night without a reservation and were told 30-45 minutes which seemed fine. Had a good cocktails at the bar but after about and hour we finally grabbed seats at the bar. Hostesses were clueless. Again, we didn't have a res and it was busy so that's fine. Ordered farro salad, farm egg, pork belly, 1/2 chicken (bartender rec) with side of cheese grits. Farro salad arrived and was good, but then nothing arrived for 20-30 minutes. Confirmed order with bartender, still nothing. Finally pork belly arrived, out of order, but was honestly amazing. Tiny little square of crispy deliciousness. Again after a really long time the chicken finally arrived and was good but barely warm enough to eat. $31 is a lot for a breast and leg with no sides. Grits were bland and lukewarm, so we sent back. Farm egg never came. I feel silly complaining but the kitchen was clearly having issues and overall the service and food were really disappointing. Bartenders were nice and apologetic but didn't really do anything about it. They seemed shorthanded at the bar. Apart from the pork belly- which was freaking amazing and made us feel like this could have been great- we left really unimpressed and disappointed.
La Camaronera - Saturday afternoon lunch. They apparently have expanded recently and so we got a table. Fried shrimp and the fried corvina sandwich were outstanding. They do speak English here despite the yelp reviews. I wish I had a place like this near me.
El Palacio de los Jugos - Sunday PM lunch. What a great place- a juice stand, small market, stalls selling sandwiches, rice and beans, fish, arepas, even a guy selling fresh coconuts from a shopping cart! A bit confusing but walk around, see what looks good and then just get in there and order, and take it to the picnic tables. Arroz moro was one of the best things I ate in Miami! Orange and beet juice was also a highlight. Cuban sandwich was good, not great.
Overall a great week in Miami!