Dining in Miami
Miami takes its dining scene very seriously, as well it
should. People come from all over the world to drink and
dine in this sunny city by the Atlantic Ocean. Restaurants
range from South American to Continental to Caribbean,
while the local fusion cuisine known as "Floribbean"
borrows influences from all three regions.
Many of the citys restaurants specialize in fresh local
seafood. Swordfish, yellowtail, lobster, and oysters
have a place on most menus. In the autumn and winter,
stone crab season takes over the Beach. At restaurants
such as Montys, South Beach Stone Crabs, and the legendary
Joes Stone Crab,
people wait for hours and pay upwards of $40 each to
enjoy the delicious crustaceans.
Miami is known as the capital of Latin America, and
its eateries represent every country and region of the
southern continent. Brazilian rodizio, Argentine churrasco,
and Peruvian seafood are just a few of the ethnic specialties
local restaurants dish out. Dozens of Cuban eateries
serve filling, tasty meals for under $7.
For many diners, however, a restaurants food is not
the point. Neither is the decor, although a restaurant
scores points for having a great view or a kitschy theme.
To these people, the most important quality in a restaurant
is its social cachet. Dining is secondary to seeing
and being seen. Restaurants often post lists or display
framed pictures of celebrity guests. If you're not famous,
never fear: you can get by on looks, charm, or deep
Whether you're looking for a cheap and filling meal,
a gourmet Italian feast, or a night amongst the stars,
you can find it in one of the districts of this splendidly
South Beach is the epicenter of excitement and glamour.
Its here, at restaurants such as The Strand or the China
Grill, that you're most likely to spot a celebrity at
the next table. Although many of the restaurants are
very pricey, places such as the ever-popular News Café
offer a pleasant atmosphere, low prices, and great food.
Grab an outside table and enjoy wine and cheese as you
ogle the SoBe street scene.
Although central Miami Beach is not as jam-packed with
restaurants as its southern neighbor, there are plenty
of excellent dining options, many of them located within
the luxury hotels. At Tapas Under
the Trees, located in the gorgeous Fontainebleau
Hotel, patrons can nibble on appetizers as they soak
up the tropical atmosphere.
Bal Harbour caters to the tastes of the fabulously
wealthy. Dining options are mostly expensive and elegant.
Petrossian, located in the exclusive Bal Harbour Shops,
serves caviar, pate, and other Continental delicacies
to rejuvenate weary shoppers. Even if you can't afford
to shop in the world-class designer boutiques, a meal
here will make you feel like royalty.
Downtown Miami is popular with businesspeople and other
locals. Nightlife is nonexistent, but theres a flourishing
restaurant scene. Seafood restaurants such as Bigfish
Mayaimi and steakhouses such as Porcao serve delicious
food with a local twist.
Coral Gables, a quaint village within Greater Miami,
boasts a culturally rich entertainment and dining scene.
Sample Jamaican gourmet cuisine at Ortanique on the
Mile, and then have a drink at Satchmo Blues Bar.
Coconut Grove, another small, trendy community within
Central Miami, boasts a number of excellent casual and
gourmet dining choices. At Chiyo, attractive hipsters
nibble on sushi and give each other the once-over. Down
the street at Mezzanotte
in the Grove, dancing on the tables is encouraged,
as long as no ones pasta gets overturned.
Key Biscaynes restaurants have a different feel from
any other part of Miami, or any other part of the world.
The dining establishments are characteristically laidback
and informal; most of the time they open and close when
they choose, and menus can change daily. Grab fish and
fries at the Bayside Seafood Grill and then venture
over to Sundays
on the Bay for a frozen drink.
Little Havana, located in Central Miami, has the greatest
number of excellent Cuban and South American eateries.
Versailles, while slightly more expensive than others,
is famous for its food. Another excellent choice is
Casa Juancho, where diners enjoy authentic Spanish cuisine,
a comfortable yet elegant atmosphere, and live flamenco
music. The district can be somewhat questionable after
dark, so visitors are recommended to go in groups.
Hialeah, a suburb of West Miami, caters to locals,
and the prices tend to be more reasonable than in other
parts of the city. Los Ranchos, a popular chain of South
American steakhouses, is typical of the neighborhoods
restaurants. The food is excellent, the decor is attractive,
and social climbers are rarely in attendance.
Aventura, best known for the gargantuan Aventura Mall,
can claim its fair share of fusion restaurants, from
expensive to reasonably priced. For inventive cuisine
that doesn't stretch the budget, check out the Gourmet
South Miami features a number of unpretentious restaurants
serving varied cuisine. El
Chalan, a Peruvian seafood restaurant, and Goodies
From Holland, a delightful Dutch bakery, typify the
dining scene. The two establishments are polar opposites
in terms of food, but they both offer a relaxed atmosphere
and low prices.
Once you hit Broward county you're officially out of
Miami, but many people consider it an extension of the
Greater Miami area. A variety of excellent restaurants
cater to tourists and seasonal residents. The Wolfgang
Puck Grand Café, located in Sawgrass Mills,
offers low-priced versions of the great chefs famed
California cuisine. Fort Lauderdales Zan Z Bar claims
to be the first South African eatery in the United States.
The roster of restaurants in this sprawling metropolis
is impressive, eclectic, and ever-changing. Its difficult
to keep track of which restaurants are remodeling, moving,
opening a new branch, or changing themes. No visitor
or local, no matter how dedicated, could ever sample
all of Miami's cuisine or enjoy every one of its bars.
However, the citys boisterous and irrepressible spirit
demands that while you're here you do your best to meet
the dining and drinking challenge every day and on into
night. As far as challenges go, that isn't a bad one