I have to admit, I didn’t eat out much last year. I used to meet my husband in the Gables for lunch a lot when I was the Miami Dining Examiner, but lately he comes home for lunch almost every day. Good thing he likes leftovers! But, there were some meals and dishes at Miami Restaurants that stood out in my memory from 2021. Here they are
Nave, Coconut Grove. We went for Miami Spice and had a most delicious, memorable meal. We started with raw oysters, then I had a Pressed Watermelon Salad with feta and pesto, a Pork Belly entree and a yummy dessert drizzled in chocolate.
- Perry’s Steak House, Coral Gables. I’d heard about Perry’s famous Pork Chop, but hadn’t experienced it until we went, with a friend, for Miami Spice. It was all that and a side of applesauce! Carved tableside, this brontosaurus beauty is cured, roasted, slow-smoked and carmelized. I could’ve done without the applesauce, but if you want a bargain, go for their Friday lunch Special where the Pork Chop is only $17.
- Mamey, Coral Gables. One of my three Birthday Lunches, my friends really didn’t let me order, since they knew exactly what to get. The White Truffle and Brie Grilled Cheese with honey was to die for but my favorite was the Ghee Roasted Plantains! I’m not sure I could identify the different components, but it was an explosion of flavor in my mouth.
- Fiolas, Coral Gables. I actually ate here several times this year, as the food and service are always on-pointe. Their Prix-Fixe menu has gone up considerably (from $29.99 to $36) but it’s still a good deal. On my last fore with my daughter, her fiance and baby Phoenix, the Steak Tartare was divine, and my daughter’s Cobia Ceviche, with chickpeas and Leche de Tigre was delicious. In general, I love the raw fish appetizers, the steak and all the desserts, but especially the Tiramisu.
- M’Italia, South Miami. I ate here twice this year- once for 1/2 off bottles of wine on Monday and once for a Birthday dinner. Both times I got the Whipped Ricotta Toast with Grilled Sourdough bread, honey and red pepper flakes. I also really like Mama’s Meatballs and highly recommend these dishes. They also have outdoor dining, under the twinkling lights and palm trees.
- Postcard Inn, Islamorada. We love the Postcard Inn, home to the famous Tiki Bar, not just because the food is good, but because it makes for easy docking of our boat, ‘Bout Time! This particular lunch was memorable. I got the Burger and Fries, Zeke got the Ceviche with Tostones. Both were delicious and you can’t beat that view!
- Azucar, Little Havana. I’d heard about this Cuban Ice Cream shop for a long time, but finally got to visit on a walking tour of Little Havana with my mom. The Miami flavors are so fun (Burn in Hell, Fidel!). We got the Abuela Maria, a creamy concoction with cookies and guava; it was spectacular! You must visit this neighborhood gem if you haven’t been.
- Island Grill, Islamorada. Island Grill is where the famous Tuna Nachos were invented, but they had been closed since Hurricane Irma, which is why they tasted all the sweeter, crunchier and yummier, when they finally re-opened bigger and better this year. I also really liked the seared tuna I had during a Girl’s Weekend and there’s plenty of outdoor seating, on the sand, to keep you germ-free.
- Shivers, Homestead. This is a frequent lunch stop for us when we go down to the Keys. Down and dirty, at picnic tables, you can smell the smoke wafting when you walk in and will go home smelling like a smokehouse, but the food is so darned good, you won’t mind. The Ribs, Beef Brisket and Smoked Chicken are all delicious. As a purist, I usually go with the Baked Beans and Cole Slaw sides, but the Jalapeno Cheese Grits, Fried Okra, Sweet Potato and Cornbread Souffle are all delicious. The only thing I’ve found I don’t like are the Collard Greens, which are a bit on the sweet side for me. They also do take-out.
- Gustaves, Coral Gables. We stopped at this new French restaurant on Miracle Mile for lunch after a trip to the Coral Gables Farmer’s Market. It has a pretty interior, friendly, French (is this a contradiction of terms?) service and delicious food. My husband got French Onion Soup and a Caesar Salad. I went with a Croissant Egg Sandwich, which came with delicious potato slices and a little salad with vinaigrette. Tres bien!
- Ruth Chris, Coral Gables. We came here twice this year- once for our anniversary and once for Zeke’s birthday. Both times were great. Ruth Chris has consistently good service and delicious food, especially their Steak (I like the Petite Filet) and Sides, like Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Creamed Spinach and Cremini Mushrooms. For those with a sweet tooth, the Creme Brulee is quite nice and they always make celebrations special . We will be back in 2022.
Sea Siam, Pinecrest. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Sea Siam, because it was the restaurant in Miami we ate at the most, to meet friends Brooks and Sharon. We always sat at the bar and ordered the same appetizer- Steamed Shrimp Dumplings with spicy mayo and extra sliced scallions- delicious. Entrees varied. I favored Crispy Duck, Brooks usually got Ginger Fish and Sharon liked the SuSa Sushi roll (off menu); Zeke’s order varied between Sushi and Thai, depending on his mood. The waitress Frances, knew what wine we liked and had a chilled glass waiting for us when we sat down; it was like a Cheers in Palmetto Bay, running into people you know. It was also a place we felt safe, during this time of Covid. We will probably be back, but it won’t be the same without our friends.
As you might have noticed from my list, I didn’t stray too far from my zip code while eating out. This didn’t seem to be the year to try the latest and greatest new restaurant on South Beach (which will probably be closed next year!). No, this was a year to hunker down, batten down the hatches and stay close to home. Maybe 2022 will be different, but, as of now I don’t think so.
Happy New Year to all my Foodie in Miami readers! See you next year!
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