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A Fat Kid’s Dining Guide to Miami

by Meg · 5 comments

As this week marks our final week in Miami before our RTW trip, I find myself reflecting on all the things I loved (and sometimes loathed) about this unique city while living here for the past two years.

I loved the weather, being on the Latin timetable, hearing Spanish everywhere I went (even though I barely learned the language), and always having the beach right at my fingertips.

Some things I was not such a fan of? The traffic (but what city doesn’t have that?), the lack of city history (a Duck Tour in Miami basically drives around celebrity beach mansions), and the inability to walk from neighborhood to neighborhood without the fear of getting stabbed (one thing I took for granted in the extremely walk-able city of Boston).

Despite Miami’s flaws, the one thing that made up for all of it was the city’s mouth-watering food scene.  Being true fat kids at heart, Tony and I strategically planned our weekends around where to eat… and when to eat.  By spacing out our weekend feasts accordingly, we could cram all of our favorite foods into our stomachs, while still fitting into our bathing suits on our weekend visits to South Beach.  Don’t judge.

In our last few weeks here, we actually made a Miami Food Bucket List of all of the places we had to hit up one last time before our move.  If you are ever in Miami, please do yourself a favor and treat this list like your Food Bible, as it sums up the best the city has to offer.

Here are the restaurants that made the cut:

  • Tapas – Because I am an incredibly indecisive person and want everything on the average restaurant menu, I am a HUGE fan of Tapas.  This is one thing Miami excels at.  The city has two excellent tapas restaurants – and you can’t go wrong with either choice.  Here are our favorites:
    • Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill– This three-kitchen Design District tapas restaurant is the tits. Sugarcane seems to be the place where we always take our out-of-town friends and family to when they are visiting.  It is the best!  Here are our favorite things about this wonderful restaurant:
      • Ambiance: Whether inside or outside, the ambiance is so romantic, yet casual and relaxed.  We prefer to sit outside since it is a little quieter (and we like the patio feel) but indoors is a great experience because you get to see all the kitchens at work.
      • Bar: The bar here is our favorite in Miami.  Their Eden is the perfect drink after a long day in the Miami sun. Their bar is also a great setup as well, as it is half indoors/half outdoors.
      • Food: AMAZING.  They are always adding new items to their menu, which is great since every visit seems like a totally new experience.  Their food is also so innovative.  The dishes we love the most are things that we would have NEVER thought to order at a restaurant.  But I always trust the judgment and recommendations of the staff at Sugarcane.  Here are some of our favorites: Bacon Wrapped Dates, Goat Cheese Croquettes, Scallop Crudos, Brussels Sprouts…Yum!  We recently tried their special, the Beef Tounge (waiter’s recommendation), which was hands down the best piece of meat I have ever had.  Even my vegetarian sister-in-law went ga-ga!
    • Sra. Martinez – Also in the Design District, this restaurant is a close second to Sugarcane.  It has an overall smaller menu (operating out of one kitchen) but the food is exceptional (and Tony can’t get enough of their Sezerac).  Some of our favorites on the menu include the Crochettas, the Oxtail, and Shashito Peppers.
  • Italian– Hailing from Boston (home of the famous North End), Tony and I have pretty high standards for Italian fare.  Four restaurants that satisfied us during our two years in Miami are as follows:
    • Grazie – This restaurant on South Beach is actually where we had our wedding rehearsal dinner (and was also Sam and Ronnie’s favorite date spot when they weren’t clawing each other eyes out on Season 2 of the Jersey Shore).  This restaurant makes their own fresh homemade pasta and has an incredible Carbonara.  Ask for a drizzle of truffle oil on top – You will thank me.
    • Spiga – Spiga is also on South Beach, and while Tony and I have only been here twice, we had a great experience both times.  It is such a small romantic restaurant and has a beautiful outdoor patio area for dining.  Their homemade Gnocchi is also the best I have ever had.  Truth.
    • Perricones – This family oriented Italian restaurant/grocery store is located a few blocks from our apartment in the heart of Brickell.  This was the first place Tony and I ate at when we moved into the area…  It actually was the ONLY place we ate at for the first few weeks in our apartment.  Not only is their food satisfying and warms you to the soul, but they deliver too (and have fabulous Italian sandwiches for takeout).  However, as much as we love eating Perricones out of styrofoam containers, going to their restaurant is a MUST.  The place has a great low-key, family-run vibe to it and they often play live music during dinner to further add to the authentic atmosphere.
    • Piolas – This place may have been the main culprit to the downfall of my waistline during my time in Miami, as it is strategically located at the bottom of our apartment building, open until 2AM, and specializes in a wide variety of scrumptious individual thin crust pizzas.  Can you blame a girl?
  • Brunch
    • Front Porch Café – To say that Tony and I are OBSESSED with this brunch spot is the understatement of the century.  We have dined at the Front Porch Café almost every Saturday morning for the past two years – Yep. Over 100 times.  And about 80 of those times, we have only ordered one thing:  Their orgasmic-ally good French Toast: Challah bread dipped in Orange Zest batter and grilled to perfection.  This French toast is the toast of gods.  The portions are HUGE, but both Tony and I always finish our plates without fail.  Wear your stretchy pants and dig in. EPIC.
  • Sushi / Japanese
    • Zuma – Zuma has some of the best dishes we have tasted in Miami – But do not go on an empty stomach… or with an empty wallet because this place is EXPENSIVE.  The food is exquisite and it is a place to see (and be seen), but the portions are on the small side and since you can get just about anything topped with shaved truffle (as a truffle enthusiasts, Tony and I can’t resist), you can expect to pay up to $30 for a small plate.

About Meg
Exhausted from traveling every week as a Business Management Consultant early in my career, I took a year off in 2012 to travel at my own pace. I am a high-energy girl that loves being active, eating food, drinking wine, and exploring the world with my partner-in-crime (and husband), Tony! I now reside in Portland, Oregon and continue to write about travel, food, wine, and the awesome adventures we have in the Pacific NW!

JR October 29, 2011 at 10:23 am

WOW, what a list. I will have to try these when I am in Miami. The Front Porch sounds amazing and it looks like the two of you were pretty committed. I love the enthusiasm for Food. I share the same enthusiasm.

Meg October 31, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Thanks JR! Front Porch (and Balans in Brickell) also have a great Breakfast Burritos. In case your wondering how big the burritos are, the waitresses are always open to live demos 😉

Gerard ~ GQ trippin November 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Now I wish I saw THIS before I went to Miami. =)

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