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Ron Johnson

South Beach Suggestions

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Some friends are headed to South Beach next month to escape the onset of winter. They have asked me, as their gourmand pal, to find some great places to eat while down there.

So my question is: what are the best dining spots in South Beach.  I am looking for the killer mom & pop hole in the wall dives with great local food to the fanciest four stars.  They will want to eat at both.  Any recommendations are appreciated.

cheers

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Joe's Stone Crab of course, 11 Washington Avenue

Miami Beach, FL 33139. Not in South Beach proper per se but probably one of the best restaurants in Miami. Very expensive, long wait times, but the stone crabs are superb.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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We had a terrific meal at the Blue Room at the Delano hotel. Heard great things about Suva on Alton Road.

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I thought I would bring this topic back up to the top of the board and see if anyone has anything to add. I will be in South Beach this weekend for four days and am fishing for recommendations. I particularly would like to hear about any good latino places. Used to eat rice and beans two or three times a week (was teaching junior high school to mostly Dominican kids up in Washington Heights, NYC), but London just doesnt have anything to offer in this area.

Thanks.


Thomas Secor

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I was in South Beach in early January, and we ate at Mark's South Beach. The cuisine is billed in Zagat as "New Floridian." It's expensive, but we had a great meal. In terms of latin american food, i'm no expert, but i think you probably will have to go out of South Beach, to get really good "ethnic" food.

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If you're looking for ethnic food, you should get out of south beach. The best places on sobe are Nobu and sushi samba -- and you can go to both places elsewhere.

For high end stuff try Azul and La Boche on Brickell key, Cacao and Normans in Coral Gables.

Cheaper fare can be founf at cafe nuvo in north miami. Excellent Haitian / Carribbean stuff. For seafood -- try Garcias, on the miami river just west of downtown miami.

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I need to bump this up again. My best friend and his wife are spending his 40th in South Beach. Can you come up with any suggestions? Both "money is no object" and "money is nearly no object" suggestions would be great!

Thanks,

Al


peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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I need to bump this up again. My best friend and his wife are spending his 40th in South Beach. Can you come up with any suggestions? Both "money is no object" and "money is nearly no object" suggestions would be great!

Thanks,

Al

By far the best restaurant I've gone to on Miami Beach is Casa Tua (if you look it up - I'm sure you can find a bunch of articles about it). Classical high class Italian. Fits the bill for something like a big deal birthday. The patio is very romantic and I recommend it with 2 caveats. First - if it rains - you'll be out of luck unless for some reason there's a vacant table inside (unlikely). Second - the patio is very tropical and you can wind up with no-see-um bites on your ankles if they're bare. The inside is nice - but I'm glad I took my chances with the patio (no rain - but even lots of ankle bug bites didn't make me regret my decision).

By the way - it's a very expensive restaurant - but - after London - heck - nothing in the US looks outrageous to me :smile: . Reservations are mandatory. Robyn

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Before the area got out of hand (70's), we used to go to Joe's Stone Crab. It's been there since 1913 and they have their own crab harvesting boats. It's definitely old-school Florida. One of my favourite restaurants in the world.


Edited by johnnyd (log)

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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I'll be in Miami early next week (Jan. 2-5) with The Dude, my brother-in-law and nephew. Brother-in-law has indicated an interest in eating at Joe's Stone Crab for his birthday on Monday, 1/3. Given the scary stories about waiting an hour to get your name on a waitlist, then waiting for another two hours before being seated, does anyone know what can we reasonably expect if we arrive between 5:00 and 5:15? They open at 5:00, according to their website. It's also the night before the Orange Bowl, so that could be a factor as well, from a tourism/crowd standpoint.

Thanks in advance for any help!

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It's also the night before the Orange Bowl, so that could be a factor as well, from a tourism/crowd standpoint.

Go really early .. the Orange Bowl will be a huge factor at one of the best known places for tourists! But if you do get in, please tell us all about your experience there! :wink:


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I'll be in Miami early next week (Jan. 2-5) with The Dude, my brother-in-law and nephew. Brother-in-law has indicated an interest in eating at Joe's Stone Crab for his birthday on Monday, 1/3. Given the scary stories about waiting an hour to get your name on a waitlist, then waiting for another two hours before being seated, does anyone know what can we reasonably expect if we arrive between 5:00 and 5:15? They open at 5:00, according to their website. It's also the night before the Orange Bowl, so that could be a factor as well, from a tourism/crowd standpoint.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Joe's is legendary, but you WILL have to wait. The only way to beat the wait is to hit the take-away annex and get your Stones to go. Picnic in the park, on the beach, if it's not too windy, with a nice bottle of wine. Don't forget the mustard sauce!

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There's a couple of ways of getting around the Joe's dilemma. One is to get the food at Joe's Take Out next door and have the food somewhere else. Believe me, you don't go to Joe's for the service. If you have to, take a walk around the dining room so you can say you've been there.

The other suggestion depends on where you're staying. When I lived on the beach and I had friends in town that insisted on going, I'd stop by the restaurant on my way home from work and leave my name. I literally had time to go home (about a mile away), shower, nap, have some drinks, and still get to the restaurant early. There's not much to do around the restaurant besides The Room (a beer and wine bar) or maybe a drink at Nemo or Shoji Sushi. Whatever you decide to do, don't have high expectations, but have lots of patience.

GO TROJANS! BEAT OU!

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Joe's for lunch is the answer. We gave up on trying to get in for dinner. Now when we land, we rent a car and head straight for Joe's. I think they open at 12. Tastes just as good for lunch and there is no waiting.

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My wife and I had a fantastic lunch at the Blue Door this passed summer. For 2 it was about $120 with tip and no serious drinking. I'd go back there in a minute. They were working on revamping the menu with Claude Troisgros since he acts as a consultant there.

I also wanted to try Azul, but never made it there.

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I've been living in South Beach for just a few months, and last weekend my partner's parents came to visit. We took that as an opportunity to eat at four high-end restaurants that we wouldn't have visited otherwise: Mosaico, Azul, Normans, and Baleen. None of these are actually IN South Beach, but they're all easily accessible if you have a car.

Mosaico is the new kid on the block, and it was my favorite of the lot. The exec. chef trained with Adria at El Bulli, and he takes some of the El Bulli tricks to a level that may be more accessible for less adventuresome diners. My in-laws, who don't generally get wowed by "tricks" with food, loved it. The restaurant is in a gorgeous old firehouse from the 1920s.

Our 2nd night was Azul, which was much more elegant than Mosaico. In my opinion, the food was flawless if not terribly surprising. I was concerned, because the restaurant's much-acclaimed chef left a few weeks ago. (Her name escapes me at the moment.) They haven't yet chosen someone to replace her, but I can't find anything to criticize about the operation they have going in the interim.

Christmas Eve we made the sacreligious step of eating at Norman's, rather than at a Chinese restaurant as my people have done on Christmas Eve for thousands of years. This is Norman Van Aken's high-profile Miami institution. The highlight of this meal was a conch chowder with the perfect balance of spiciness, creaminess, crunch, and ooze. The conch were panko-breaded... just flawless. Entrees were good but not amazing, desserts a bit more of a let-down.

And our last night was Baleen. Skip it. Bad service, mediocre food, high prices. The waiter didn't even show us the bottle of wine before bringing out the glasses for the wine pairings. I can't tell you how disappointed I was in this place after having heard such good things about it.

So if money is no object, I think it's hard to go wrong with Mosaico, Azul, or Norman's. For more creative diners, I'd choose Mosaico even if the food at Azul was a bit better.

Hope this helps!

Ari

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Michele Bernstein was the chef at Azul, and she left months ago. When I ate there recently, I was very disappointed in the food-VERY expensive, and ordinary. Michele, who is very nice, is opening her own place in a location more suitable to her talents in the near future.

As for South Beach, remember, this is about to be high season, so the PR bullshit is in high swing! The only upscale place on SoBe I can personally recommend very highly is Talula. The husband/wife team of chefs are there, and everything on the menu is great, esp. the shrimp tamale and the yellowtail. It is up on 21st St., so it's not far from the Shore Club (SkyBar) for after diner drinks.

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Michele Bernstein was the chef at Azul, and she left months ago.  When I ate there recently, I was very disappointed in the food-VERY expensive, and ordinary.  Michele, who is very nice, is opening her own place in a location more suitable to her talents in the near future. 

As for South Beach, remember, this is about to be high season, so the PR bullshit is in high swing!  The only upscale place on SoBe I can personally recommend very highly is Talula.  The husband/wife team of chefs are there, and everything on the menu is great, esp. the shrimp tamale and the yellowtail.  It is up on 21st St., so it's not far from the Shore Club (SkyBar) for after diner drinks.

I read a piece recently - think it was a blurb in the NYT - that Michele Bernstein's new place is somewhere in Mexico. Robyn

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A friend and I ate at Joe's about six weeks ago, arriving at 5:30. We were seated right away. Since the place opens at 5, it's been my experience you can get in without a wait if you are part of that first wave of diners. Of course, you have to be willing to eat at 5!


Author of the Mahu series of mystery novels set in Hawaii.

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Thanks everyone! Despite the wait warnings and potential Orange Bowl crowds, the birthday boy still wants to give Joe's a try. We don't have any problems with eating at 5:00 - one of our party has a medical condition that can become exacerbated if he doesn't eat by about 6:00, so it's all good if we can get seated fairly early. If not, we'll improvise.

And...thanks again!

BOOMER SOONER!

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Another South Beach discovery:

Ice Box Cafe.

This place is less than half a block off of Lincoln Road on Michigan, but it's not at all touristy. I went there for the first time two weeks ago, and since then I've been back another two times, for brunch and dinner. (It helps that I live 2 blocks away.) The owner is a guy named Robert who's run the place for seven years, changing the menu daily. It's very casual, very small, friendly service, excellent food.

Here's one tiny detail that to me, indicates the kind of care that sets this place apart from other small, casual restaurants: When you order iced tea, they bring it to the table with a little pot of simple syrup so you can sweeten to taste. So much smarter than crystalized sugar that doesn't dissolve in the bottom of the glass, so much tastier than over-sweetened sweet tea (sorry, die hard Southerners).

There are lots of those kinds of simple, elegant details that make this place a pleasure to eat at. And none of the Lincoln Road tourists seem to know about it!

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Here's one tiny detail that to me, indicates the kind of care that sets this place apart from other small, casual restaurants:  When you order iced tea, they bring it to the table with a little pot of simple syrup so you can sweeten to taste.  So much smarter than crystalized sugar that doesn't dissolve in the bottom of the glass, so much tastier than over-sweetened sweet tea (sorry, die hard Southerners). 

There are lots of those kinds of simple, elegant details that make this place a pleasure to eat at.  And none of the Lincoln Road tourists seem to know about it!

I absolutely concur with your idea that "simple, elegant details" are what separate the men from the boys, so to speak ... now that I read this is today's politically correct world, it seems positively archaic! :laugh: But, Ari, you got that one dead right! (also somewhat non p.c. ... :hmmm: )


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Stop into just about any Cuban owned diner and get a Cuban sandwich for lunch. Mmmmmm. Many of them have take-out windows on the street also.

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one more foodie going to MIA.......

and a few questions.

I am looking for:

- two places to have top-notch dinners,

- one good cuban place,

- and a few affordable, "down-to-earth" (if that is at all feasible in MIA) restaurants, fresh seafood, ethnic, or whatever.

any suggestions on this welcome.

Here are a few more precise questions:

1) I understand La Broche is very good--but closed?

2) Are Ari's suggestions from end-December last year still valid (Mosaico and Azul yes, Norman's and Baleen not necessarily)?

3) is there anything interesting (restaurantwise) in Miami Beach (apologies if this is a stupid question, I have nver been down there)

4) what about the famous hotels (delano etc)--are the restaurants any good?

5) what about Talula? any experience available?

Thanks,

Andreasinho

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