If you’re going to constantly pester people for information you can easily look up yourself, do us all a favor and stay in Philadelphia. Heh-heh. Just kidding -- or, as Glinda the Good Witch said to Dorothy: You’re not in the City of Brotherly Love anymore. But let’s see if I can’t offer some brotherly advice just the same.
This is a great tapas town. Try El Carajo International Tapas and Wine, situated in the back of a Citgo gas station off US 1 and SW Seventeenth Avenue (corvina ceviche; grilled sardines; picadillo pepper puffed with bacalao -- all cheap!). Happy Wine and Gourmet on Tamiami Trail is a wine shop where you can munch on sandwiches and tapas such as garlic-marinated white anchovy fillets (boquerones). It’s not really about the food, though. Come 4:00 p.m. Saturdays, Cuban musicians pick up instruments the party begins. Most Miami wine bars (and there are lots) put out credible tapas as well.
I honestly don’t have a favorite Thai place. Most are decent, none outstanding -- they all sort of blur into one big coconut curry of okay-ness. But if you’re willing to go Japanese, Hiro’s Yakko San in North Miami Beach is the spot for affordable, authentic, Japanese fare. Hiro’s Sushi next door (and at various other locations) is recommendable for a low-end raw fish fix, and on the very high end, there are the excellent Nobo, Bond Street, and David Bouley’s Evolution. There are so many other great options that I’ll let you discover on your own, but -- my number one pick for the best sushi/sashimi is Matsuri Japanese Restaurant, on Bird Road.
Sorry to say we’re not strong on Mexican cuisine. You should eventually explore Homestead and the surrounding Redlands farm area to try freshly picked fruit and produce. When you do so, take a stroll down Krome Avenue and choose the Mexican restaurant that looks best -- there’s a bunch of them, ranging from decent to very good. Closer to home, I like the Burrito Grill Cafe in North Miami -- owned by Yucatecans who make a mean cochinita pibil.
There are likely as many Italian restaurants down here as there are in Philadelphia. They’re just not as good. Or at least not most of them, but we do have more worthy places than I can mention here. Soya y Pomodoro downtown is where you should head to for lunch, or for Thursday dinner (only night they’re open), which features live music and a cool scene. Sardinia in South Beach for solid, distinctive regional fare. Escopazzo for more creative Italian fare at higher prices than the others. Spris on Lincoln Road makes a great pizza, and you can order pasta dishes or excellent mussel pots from co-owned neighboring eateries Tiramisu and LeBon. Get there at 5:30 p.m. on a weeknight and pay just $5.30 for your entree; at 6 p.m. you’ll pay $6, and so on until 7 p.m. -- best early bird deal in town. You’ll enjoy Macaluso’s, too. It serves traditional Staten Island Italian, which is as close to authentic Philadelphia Italian as you’re going to get.
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In case you get homesick: the Best Philly cheesesteak is at Frankie’s Big City Grill on Biscayne Boulevard. Frankie and his wife are from Philadelphia, so if you and your wife go there maybe it will lead to a nice bond. Or at least a free pickle.
Best of luck.
Email your questions to Lee Klein.