Miami Recap (was suppose to be brief, but ended longer than anticipated)
Firstly thanks everyone for recommendations and or advice. Was all helpful and interesting.
Secondly, most everything was wonderful and terrific. I didn't get to do all the things that I intended, but I hit quite a number of things on my Miami checklist.
I'm just going off memory, so it won't be comprehensive.
La Camaronera. Minute snapper sandwich, rice with fish bits. Really delicious. I could go for more right now!
Los Pinarenos Fruteria. Grabbed a fruit juice. My wife wanted to try out some of the local fruits, so she grabbed a mamey. Which she really liked.
Coconut Grove Organic Market. More fruits: egg fruit, sopadilla, black sapote, etc., for later.
Indomania. Sat at the bar. Corn cakes, spring rolls, and the vegetarian nasi rames. I couldn't tell the Dutch influence part. And I don't know enough about Indonesian food to compare. And I ordered mostly vegetarian (which I normally will do) in consideration of my wife. But it was boldly flavorful and pretty tasty. My wife especially liked it.
The Frieze. Forgot which flavor, but it was one of their signature ones. It's a nice store. Very good.
Jugofresh. Expensive green juices. =( Wife likes that stuff.
The Federal. Mushroom grits, corn bread, crispy brussel sprouts, jar duck. Mushroom grits had a great depth of flavor. It felt like it was conceived to be a satisfying main dish (which was what it was), as oppose to a side dish (how grits mostly seem to appear on the menu). Jar duck was really good. Really good experience. Service was good. And the food was just great, it’s thoughtful or complicated in conception or perhaps execution, but straightforward good food when eating.
El Palacio De Los Jogos. Guanabana drink, chicharrones, coconut flesh and juice. Guanabana (soursop) is always delicious, and this was same, slightly too sweet, but tangy and citrusy. I was torn between a Cuban sandwich or the chicharron, but went with the latter as the portion was smaller. The chicharrones was super tasty - at different parts fatty, crunchy, slightly salty, crispy. And my wife got an assortment of fruits and other goodies.
Joe’s Stone Crab. Selects claws, hash brown, conch fritters, sauteed spinach, key lime pie. Had a hard time deciding whether or not to include Joe’s in the itinerary. But as we were trying to figure out what to do for dinner, and could withstand the wait time, we went. We ordered the classics, right? And deservingly so. The whole experience was great. Good bread service, good service. Good tasty food. The selects are decently sized, but larger would have been better. Wife had been craving flan since she saw it on Camaronera’s menu, but I had her hold off on it for a little longer. She liked the key lime pie, thankfully.
THRIVE. More green juice. =( We probably got there a good hour earlier than when they opened, but they were nice enough to make a couple for us.
Florida Cookery. Grits, palm heart salad, fish sandwich, and shrimp starters. The shrimp dish had nice depth, and the shrimp tasted very fresh and cooked just right. My wife didn’t especially liked the fish sandwich (which I thought was decent). She was still thinking about La Camaronera. If I sound like a broken record, everything was good.*
Versailles (bakery). Cuban coffee, flan, guayaba pastel. I figured if my wife wanted flan, it had to be at a Cuban joint. The flan was really good. Thick but smooth, good mouth feel, and nicely sweet. I wanted a coffee but couldn’t figure out what to order, and the server was not particularly patient with my indecision. Ended up with cafe cubano, and it was way too sweet. How do folks drink three scoops of sugar in a double espresso???????? I understand acquired taste and all, but I couldn’t finish it. Otherwise, the guayaba pastry was delicious.
Los Pinarenos Fruteria. Picked up an assortment of fruits (mamey, canistel, and so forth). I got a sopadilla drink, which was good.
My Ceviche. Fish taco and combination aji amarillo ceviche. Packed with good flavor. Was tempted to get the stone crab’s but vacation spending has limits. I probably could have gone slightly spicier or added hot sauce, but we got it to go so there was nothing we could do about it.
Lido. Tater tot, hummus, kale salad, vegan lasagna. Great view. The rest was … I thought my wife would like it for the vegetarian/vegan options but she resisted. Was still good, especially the tater tots (had bits of onions in them and that made quite a difference). But the view was awesome.
Las Olas Cafe - Cortadito, guayaba pastel. This was one place that wasn’t on my itinerary. But I was looking for a good Cuban sandwich place near my hotel, and since it was along the 395 route to Redland, seem like a good idea for a quick to go breakfast for the drive. Cortadito with “less” or no sugar was what I wanted instead of the 3-scoops-of-sugar cafe cubano I had the day before. Cordadito was so good, the coffee of my dreams. My wife said the pastel at Versailles was better. Los Olas’ pastel was more than acceptable to me.
Robert is Here. Canistel / strawberry smoothie. Great fruit/veggie stand/market. The smoothie was great, though I regret it a little. The strawberry probably masked or overwhelmed the canistel. Totally worth a visit. She picked up a lot of fruits.
Shivers BBQ. Beef brisket sandwich, andouille sausage, cornbread souffle, collards, green beans. This was a tough call since the lunch choices were slightly more limited in the Redland area. But I figured BBQ would be a good change of pace, and Shivers turned out to be a terrific place. Service was friendly, setting had lots of local/bbq-joint character (as you’d expect, it was what it was), and the food was tasty (beef brisket was a touch dry).
Knaus farm. Strawberry milkshake, cinnabon, and strawberry picking. So good! It was our snacks for our drive back (except we stopped off for a snack anyway).
Rio Cristal. Cortadito, flan. This was on our way back to the hotel, and wife was still craving flan. She thought this flan was better than Versailles (and she thought the Versailles version was fantastic). I keep mentioning the cortadito because it's pretty exceptional in Miami.
Michael’s Genuine. Wood roasted double egg yolk, chips with onion dip, chili chicken wings, grits, heirloom tomatoes with pesto, cauliflower with parsley, and squash with anchovy butter, linguine. The place was a tad too dark, but otherwise nice setting. Service was friendly and knowledgeable. I’d like to say the food was terrific, and this was probably one of the priority places that I made reservations for. But whether it was eating out constantly, or a long day already, my wife was not too hungry and tired. The food was still good, but we just finished whatever we ordered quickly and got back to our hotel.
Lido. Okay breakfast of eggs and potatoes and such. It's expensive, but probably within range of what a hotel would charge.
Las Olas Cafe - Cortadito, cuban sandwich. I got a cuban sandwich after all. Yay. I ate half of it there and saved the rest for the flight back. It was really good on site, crunchy and all. (On the flight, the other half was satisfying compared to the pretzel and cookie alternatives. We also finished off during the flight some of the fruits we got earlier. They were ripening just in time.)
La Camaronera. Minute snapper, rice with fish bits, flan. Wife couldn’t resist returning, especially since there was no vegetarian option at Las Olas. Was all still wonderful. The flan, less so.
Versailles. Cortadito, flan, guayaba pastel. There was still time till the flight and Versailles was on the way anyway. Still excellent. The less than stellar flan from La Camaronera left her craving a more decent version.
And then back to NYC. Thanks again.
* Generally, I am easygoing and enjoy good food, and mainly visit places likely to offer a pleasant experience. More often than not, the restaurants deliver within that range of my expectations, and I don’t try to nitpick. So unless something was egregiously bad, I am not going to be too negative. But I’ll try to highlight how particular things surprised me (positively or negatively).