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Miami/SoBe: any don't-miss NOT fine dining but great food?

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Haven't been to Miami as an adult! I'll be in Hollywood (Westin) for 3 nights with my 20-year old daughter. Want her to see the SoBe scene a little, the deco buildings, have a great meal or two. I prefer to park the car once if possible though am willing to move if necessary. We are happy to walk anywhere. She isn't tremendously adventurous but will go along with anything. Definitely would like one really good Cuban meal.

Not looking for fine dining, will go off the beaten path for something truly delish. There's SOOOO many recs and threads, I've done some searching but it's super hard to sift through the high end places, especially because I don't know the geography at all. So if you will pardon my laziness, I promise I'll report back on wherever we end up.

Oh, and will take suggestions for Hollywood-ish as well. Thanks.

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  1. See the SoBe scene a little? Sidewalk lunch table at The News Café, cobb salad and bloody mary, offers the best people watching in town.

    1. You should eat at books and books or 1957 on Lincoln Road. Beyond that you will need to be more specific. Do not eat at news café.

      4 Replies
      1. re: tpigeon

        why not? and why Lincoln road near a parking garage, rather than Ocean dr, on the ocean?

        1. re: Veggo

          Superior food and superior people watching.

          1. re: tpigeon

            I prefer water views and women. TETO.

            1. re: Veggo

              So you pick a place with mediocre food in the middle of ocean drive with nothing but tourists?

              To the OP. If you want to be in the art deco area, eat at Puerto Sagua or Otentic and walk around the area afterwards. You can even stroll on the beach.

      2. BTW, very little in Hollywood-- the places to go up that way are Las Olas and Himmarshee in FtL. Hollywood is trying to gentrify, they are doing some nice things near Young Circle, but they are not on a par with Las Olas at all.

        6 Replies
        1. re: lemarais

          Fodors does review for dining establishments......Kind of like Zagats......

          She didn't insult you....lol.....But tpigeon knows the right places to go....And those aren't places based "sightseeing"....

          Not the two legged kind anyway....

          EMac
          Ft. Pierce, FL

          1. re: LargeLife

            Clearly, Veggo got under TPigeon's skin. EMac is right -- TPigeon (along with Frodnesor) knows about Miami's foods as well as anyone. That said, perhaps Veggo is on to something which we natives who long ago abandoned News Cafe might want to at least revisit. I wouldn't eat atthe News Cafe -- it's been years for me. So how would I know if it is any good. Furthermore, Veggo's assessment of what one may see at News Cafe is also accurate. Final opinion -- it qualified as insult. All that said, I would listen to TPigeon -- she is expert here.

            1. re: taiga

              Thanks, taiga, and a good assessment. I concede that MB is for the youthful, and at age 61, I had my fun in the sun, now it's your turn. But I still like the Basel Art show and the boat show!

              1. re: taiga

                tpigeon as "she" is like Jim Leff being called Jeff. Not sure why but it happens more then it should. Last month I stayed on the beach and I sent my 16 year old and her friend to sit at the News Café and have a non adult beverage, but explained what she would see. I also told her and a friend to walk all around. Espanola, Lincoln, south of Fifth and we met for lunch poolside at the Raleigh. I will say this, yes tpigeon is irreplaceable on this board, as Veggo is on the Mexico board. Hats off to tpigeon and Veggo for a ton of great advise I have received from you both.

                1. re: taiga

                  News Café was never good in the first place, pretty much the same as all their restaurants. There is no reason to revisit it. Doing so is masochistic.

                  1. re: tpigeon

                    You must have had an unpleasant experience there. It's one of the nicest spots in SoBe.

            2. You've posted on CH so you are clearly not looking to do the touristy News Cafe thing... Hey Emac for the 100th time, TP is a HE. Anyway, Puerta Sagua for very good Cuban food in a very casual environment. Perfect after walking around Ocean Drive and Art Deco area.

              If you want to stay on the casual side and get a flavor for Miami Beach I would recommend Joe's Stone Crab casual take out restaurant which is adjacent to Joe's.

              For some local South Beach flavor I'd recommend going to Pubbelly. Good food, great vibe and on the casual side.

              If the weather is nice, I would recommend sitting outside at the Raleigh and doing Restaurant Michael Schwartz.

              Let us know if you have more specific questions.

              6 Replies
              1. re: The Chowfather

                Puerto Saguo is universally recommended so it is a for-sure. I genuinely appreciate the tips and will probably do the drive then stop, she is less interested in architecture than I am! Will report back. Thanks.

                1. re: SueFH

                  Just don't go there with overly high expectations. Puerto Sagua is good but probably won't knock your socks off.

                  1. re: SueFH

                    Universally recommended is probably overstating it as to Puerto Sagua. It's the Cuban equivalent of a greasy spoon diner.

                    The food at News Cafe was never particularly great in the first place and went downhill many years ago. Though I stopped going with any regularity a long time ago, I was there once within the past couple years and it was as mediocre as ever. The people-watching as between Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive is roughly equivalent - and the "beach view" from News Cafe may be somewhat overstated. With Ocean Drive plus a wide paved boardwalk between the hotels and the beach, you don't actually see that much, if any, of the beach from the Cafe.

                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      I am going to have to disagree on the people watching. There is no equivalent of a segafredo or doraku during happy hour on ocean drive as far as people watching goes. While Lincoln road has declined, there are some pretty good spots left.

                  2. re: The Chowfather

                    We enjoyed Puerto Sagua, liked the medianoche better than the rope vieja. Loved the rice and plantains. I'd go back and try other stuff but just confess some of the sanitation issues bother me a bit. I know, I know, it's not touristy and gonna have a few quirks in exchange for authenticity. But a gallon of milk was sitting on the counter when we walked in and didn't move the entire time we were there. Nor when we left.

                    Anyway, we are in coral gables right now, my girl visiting a HS friend at U of M, then we will brave the traffic and head back. Thinking Maybe we will do Joes, she's a little less psyched about the dicey places than I am!

                    Thanks to all for your input.

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