Miami, feed me
April 2, 2012 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Heading to Miami in a few weeks for a conference. Would love to hear your food recommendations and must-not-miss attractions/neighborhoods/beaches.

1. Conference is in downtown Miami
2. Staying on Miami Beach (Bayshore area)
3. I will have a car

Looking for your food recommendations, especially lunch recommendations in downtown Miami (I will have most dinners provided).

Any other recommendations for cool historical stuff along the lines of the Villa Vizcaya, and your favorite spots on Miami Beach.

I'm heading down to Key Biscayne Nat'l Park and Key Largo for a few days after the conference, so any recommendations in that area are also welcome!
posted by sararah to Travel & Transportation around Miami, FL (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Places I went when I visited a month ago: (Amazing)


La Sandwicherie

100 Montaditos

El Palacio de Jugos
posted by sandmanwv at 3:18 PM on April 2, 2012

Best answer: If you have a car, one of my favorite places in Miami is the Grove. If you head that way, Fairchild Botanical Gardens is pretty neat-o.

As far as eating on Miami Beach, I really like the little mom and pop cuban places, and when I go to Miami finding one and getting some Colada is one of the first things I do.

I can also confirm that La Sandwicherie is delicious.

Key Biscayne is beautiful.

I envy you. Looks like my next conference is in Indianapolis.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:39 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Previously, here, here, and here.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 3:45 PM on April 2, 2012

Best answer: Okay yeah so:

You're staying not far from Cecconi's! Which is in the Soho House. Totally enjoyable.

Juvia is brand new, at 1111 Lincoln Road. Very expensive! Also very, very good. Probably best for lunch.

The best brunch in Miami Beach is at the Raleigh Hotel, 18th and Collins. Just saunter through the lobby out to the back by the pool. Always a seat, amazing lemon buttermilk blueberry pancakes.

Michael's Genuine is still probably the best restaurant in town.

The best Asian food is Makoto, in the Bal Harbour mall (which is a hilarious thing to see in itself--it's like one of the highest retail-income pieces of real estate in the country, heh).

Lunch in downtown Miami is pretty dreadful, except Michael's, which is a short drive from downtown. (And it's quite a scene.)

For Key Largo, I love Mrs. Mac's (CLOSED ON SUNDAYS, amazingly, I believe); great dolphin sandwiches.

Snorkeling at Pennekamp is great; they have cheap boat rentals at the state park, if you get there early; full-day and half-day.

Key Biscayne National Park... well, bring sunscreen. (I'm not a fan! It's just hot and dusty. Others love it.)

And yeah, Fairchild is awesome, if you like plants. Which I do. Mmm, plants.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 3:56 PM on April 2, 2012

Best answer: around Key largo, there is Pennekamp park - snorkeling, kayaking, scube, glassbottom boat tours, and a nice aquarium in the visitor centre. If you like birds, the florida keys wild bird center is great, especially if you like taking pictures.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:12 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For the quintessential Cuban meal, hit Versailles on Calle Ocho, profoundly garish and authentic, hangout of movers and shakers locally, and the food is mass-market-Cuban good.

For a profound glimpse of pre-glitz Miami, don't miss The Barnacle in Coconut Grove, a bayfront house designed and built by an early settler, Commodore Ralph Munroe, in about 1896. Much more interesting than Vizcaya IMO.

And I'm seconding Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden if you have time for a lovely long walk in a true sub-tropical paradise.

But don't miss the first two. I speak as one who grew up in Miami, lived and worked there for years, and have affectionate memories of what might have been.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 4:49 PM on April 2, 2012

Best answer: enriquetas - cuban

Tap-tap -haitian

in the vein of vizcaya is the deering estate

Stop at Robert is here for delicious tropical fruits!

Key Biscayne (similar name to Biscayne Nat'l Park but different place) has the beautiful Crandon Park and Bill Baggs, off of shore is Stiltsville, another cool historic site.

Everyone should go to the everglades, but sounds like you don't have time for that- maybe next time!
posted by abirdinthehand at 6:15 PM on April 2, 2012

Response by poster: Back from my trip!

-Did not get to try anything fantastic food-wise in Downtown Miami. Probably my favorite meal was at La Granja - definitely enjoyable.

-Did make it to both Vizcaya and The Barnacle. Talk about 180° from one another in terms of construction techniques and the effort and $ that went into building them. Both fascinating in their own right. Vizcaya was fantastic and beautiful and totally over the top. The Barnacle was so, so interesting and charming. Our tour guide at The Barnacle was a delightfully quirky and enthusiastic Florida native who obviously loved working there and sharing his knowledge with tour groups.

-Drove out to Key Biscayne - it was ok, but the beach was kind of dirty. The lighthouse and Stiltsville were neat to see, and it was worth the $5.50 in toll + park admission to drive around for a few hours. Biscayne Nat'l Park was so great, and such a hidden gem. Fantastic FREE ranger-guided canoe trip in the morning, and then a reasonably priced fantastic snorkeling trip in the afternoon. (To Anniversary Reef, off of Eliott Key.) I wasn't traveling with kids, but it seemed like a very family-friendly place, and definitely off the beaten path and away from big tourist crowds. I went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef a few years ago, and this was a superior experience in terms of boat size (smaller group is better, we only had ~20 people), salty sea captain tales/tour of the surrounding islands, and water depth (the reef was much shallower here and it was really easy to see a lot of stuff).

-South Beach was nice - the Art Deco Walk was very interesting and fun for photo-taking. Wish I would have had time to stop at the visitor's center and read more about the history of the area. Did not actually eat many meals in Miami Beach, but we had a nice dinner at Fratelli la Bufala. Very good wood-fired pizza. I know people have opinions about pizza, but I also know that I really enjoyed what I ate. Had some sort of orange ricotta pie for dessert - amazing and probably the best thing I ate all week. It was served with a dollop of what I assume was the lemon ricotta, and I could have eaten a whole bowl of that stuff. Yum.

-Maybe someone can answer a curiosity I have regarding all of the restaurants on the lower level of the Art Deco buildings? They all seemed to be serving the same mass-produced crap. We did not stop at one, and there were not a lot of people eating there. I am just wondering if they are all affiliated or owned by the same person.

-Ended up driving down to Islamorada on Saturday evening, and after a day of rain, rain, rain, the sun broke through the clouds just in time for sunset. (We were originally going to stop in Key Largo but my travel buddy wanted to drive a bit further to revisit his old stomping grounds.) We stopped at Lorelei Cabana Bar, and it was nice with a definite local color about it (apparently there was a bar fight around the corner from us, although we didn't notice!). Decent fish sandwich, decent service, not horribly overpriced, super rum-tastic daiquiri, really good frozen key lime pie thing, amazing place to watch the sunset.

If it wouldn't have been raining on Saturday, we had originally planned on going fishing, and then possibly to Fairchild. Also wish I would have gotten to try some Cuban food, but my conference lunch buddies kept picking the restaurants. Oh well, I will have to come back for another visit! Thanks everyone for the tips - it was fun to have an idea of places to go, plus discover some new places as well.
posted by sararah at 12:40 PM on April 23, 2012

Thanks for the update! I'm actually heading down to key largo later this week, and would love to check out that guided canoe trip, it sounds awesome.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:07 PM on April 23, 2012

Response by poster: Canoe trip was a little on the slower side, but I do think there are more advanced trips. It was nice to have guidance regarding the flora and fauna. Our ranger guide knew endless facts about sea grass, and it was actually kind of funny. Going at our own pace would have been nice, but my canoeing partner hadn't been paddling in quite a few years ;) (So, really it would have been my pace + him suffering!)
posted by sararah at 3:05 PM on April 23, 2012

Response by poster: Biscayne Nat'l Park phone service was kind of insane - just try re-calling and pushing zero until you get someone on the line. We did the Convoy Point trip.
posted by sararah at 3:07 PM on April 23, 2012

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