Critique my list please? South Beach-heavy, lunch only, dive/chow only
I'm at the W Hotel in South Beach for a few days. I have 3 lunches; I might be able to squeeze in 4. I want to focus on chow-worthy, solid dives or otherwise local/unique spots. After many happy hours on this fantastic board, I've selected the following for lunches -- in rough order of my excitement level -- would you mind sharing any strong feelings about reordering my priorities or anything I've missed?
1. La Camaronera
3. El Palacio de los Jugos
4. Chalan on the Beach
5. Puerto Sagua
6. My Ceviche
7. Joe's Takeaway (I get that it's no dive, and there's that old lawsuit where they apparently discriminated vs. female servers, but people on this board give it high marks).
Yes. The dutch that is right in your hotel.
It is not a dive, and not exactly unique (there is almost nothing in common with the nyc menu), but is very good and really convenient and while more expensive, will be a better lunch than most places on your list.
More divey places to consider:
Papo Llega y Pon
El Mago de las Fritas
Versailles (not better than puerto sagua but if you want the full on cuban food experience and culture, this is the place to go).
Not divey, but chow worthy and sort of unique.
Lucali (weekends only) -- unless you go to NYC a lot.
Milos is not unique but definitely chow worthy...
Joe's Takeaway is not a dive but it's not fancy either and certainly fits in with your focus. The discrimination lawsuit was resolved nearly 15 years ago, it's probably time to let it go.
I suspect you've already figured out La Camaronera, Enriqueta's, and El Palacio de los Jugos are not on South Beach, but just in case - they're not. All good, and also appropriate to your theme. TP as always has some good suggested additions.
A note on Milos: they have a $24 3-course lunch special that's a very good deal considering their regular menu prices.
Also: PB Steak does a "pop-up" TacoBelly lunch menu (not actually a pop-up: same exact crew in the same location, just doing a differently themed menu) that's very good. The prices are not exactly taqueria cheap - tacos come 2 to an order at $7-8 - but they're veyr good.
Might also want to consider Tap Tap on South Beach - I haven't been in ages but it's the only place on the beach to get Haitian food. Prices are higher, and food more timid, than you'll find at a mainland spot, but still possibly worth a visit.
If you venture up to North Beach (Collins Ave. in the 60s and 70s) there are several places to add to the mix: El Rel del Chivito (Uruguayan sandwiches), La Perrada de Edgar (Colombian hotdogs), Sazon (Cuban), Moises Bakery (Venezuelan empanadas and other goodies), Mixtura (Peruvian), Buenos Aires Bakery (Argentinian) ...
These were great, guys. I junked my list, figuring if you all felt so strongly then I should just follow your recs. I'm glad I did. I wasn't able to hit everything (only 3 lunches, Dutch hours never worked, couldn't hit Taco Belly on Th or Fri for schedule reasons) but here's my report:
PAPO LLEGA Y PON -- worth it for ambiance alone (no menu, no sign, sandwich sizes with markers). Very solid sandwich, but if I'd ordered extra crispy bits (chicharrones? sorry for rookie ignorance) and lots of extra hot sauce it would have been a showstopper. Next time.
VERSAILLES -- best lunch of the trip; extraordinary roast half chicken with garlic sauce, side of tostones (good, not great), sandwich cubano (forgettable). You were totally right on the full Cuban experience, tpigeon; there was a huge family right next to us celebrating something and it was totally sweet. Also liked at the parking spots reserved for 15min for drinking cafe (we need those in Seattle...).
LA CAMARONERA -- this was on our way into town, and was half successful. The fried shrimp were excellent. The fried snapper sandwich wasn't. I don't know if snapper is always so fishy or if I was just unlucky, but it really did nothing for me -- fishy/bland fish and nothing else really going on. Serves me right for not picking one of the others on your recommended lists.
Thanks a lot guys. You were great guides, and I really appreciate it! Fatman
You're bringing up the Joe's lawsuit? As Frod said...that's long over and time to move on. Joe's is an iconic landmark establishment that's worth the time, effort and money to visit, embrace and enjoy. El Palacio de Jugos is OK but not really a must visit place. Enjoy!
Ft. Pierce, FL