Beware: It’s easy to get your belly on in South Beach. Our culinary exploits extended past the South Beach border, but we easily could have had our fill here. However, our venture out landed some tasty finds.
First, let’s talk burgers. I’m always amazed at how much range in taste a burger offers – from their seasonings and heft to the condiments and bread choice holding it all together in a perfect package of yumminess. Yes, I’m a burger fan.
We got our first fix at Five Napkin Grill with its original burger. Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, rosemary aioli – need I say more? Yum!
Five Napkin Grill
Yet we were told there was even a better place to try at the Burger & Beer Joint.
Our gut demanded some exercise before our next feast, so we pedaled our way to lunch. Side note: One of the best ways to see South Beach is by bike. Despite traffic challenges in parts, some streets have an entire lane dedicated to putting your feet to the pedal.
Now back to lunch. With names like Stairway to Heaven, Mustang Sally, Turning Japanese and Fly Like an Eagle, I knew I’d be singing this place’s praises. As if the ample burger combinations didn’t give you enough options, you could build your own burger from a choice of prime angus, wagyu, turkey, chicken and ahi tuna. The bun, cheese and sauce options are just as impressive. There’s brie, prosciutto, pan-seared foie gras, red onion marmalade, black truffle demi and walnut pesto – to name a few sidekicks. Heck yeah!
Trying to muster up a little restraint, I opted for the turkey burger with cheddar and grilled jalapeños on a whole-wheat bun. It was pure delight without the guilt. My hubby went for the Thunder Road with bourbon barbecue sauce and smoked Duroc pork belly bacon. Need I say more?
The Burger & Beer Joint has an impressive selection of beers – even one that’s gluten-free
Love the joint’s graffiti-covered brick columns
For a more refined taste, plan to visit to the Miami Design District around lunch at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink. This place is worth the taxi ride for lunch or dinner. Fresh, simple and pure it promises and delivers with locally sourced food. Even a simple salad had me savoring every bite.
Simple greens with heirloom tomatoes
Short rib and fontina cheese panini with heirloom tomato chutney
The slow roasted berkshire pork pizza with mission figs, grilled onions, fontina cheese and arugula
After an rewarding lunch, walk around the Design District to find more stylistic inspiration. Lighting, tiles and funky furniture collections, art galleries and specialty clothing stores are fun to explore. Still in development, the neighborhood intentionally combines shopping, cultural and culinary experiences.
Looking for some down-home comfort food with an upscale twist? Head to Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
, a James Beard Foundation Award for Excellence semi-finalist for best new restaurant and best chef (south) for 2012. From start to finish and despite the hefty servings, each course leaves you wanting just a taste more as they remove your plates.Cocktails before dinner at the Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
Fried green tomato BLT with tomato jam and house-made pimento cheese, mama’s chicken biscuits with pepper jelly, and a heavenly pasta dish served with duck meatballs were a few highlights. Add to it the fun, lively vibe and it’s easy to see how this could quickly become a regular dining spot if your lived in South Beach.Zuma
, a Japanese restaurant in downtown Miami offers a modern, fresh taste and feel. The spice yellowtail roll with serrano pepper and wasabi mayo was a meal favorite. It’s definitely worth the visit and was a nice contrast to some of our heavier meals.
Next up, Casa Tua
offered a cozy and tasteful dining experience. As you enter the iron gates and step into the villa, it feels like you have a special invitation to a dinner party. OK, so it’s a dinner party where you don’t know anyone and you’re likely seated just inches away from strangers that you’re expected to ignore. That aside, the meal was fabulous. We enjoyed dishes of pappardelle lamb ragu with pistachio crumble and tagliatelle with mushroom, Burgundy black truffle and parmesan cheese fonduta.
For one of our last culinary acts, we chose to have lunch at Joe’s Stone Crab
. The restaurant has stood the test of time, recently celebrating a 100-year anniversary and still owned by the original family. Stone crab claws were in season, so we decided to go for it. If you like crab claws, I’m sure they’re great, but in the words of my husband, “Why would you love crab claws?” They weren’t bad, just not worth the work or price of admission. Next time for a splurge, I’m sticking to king crab legs and not getting lured into a seasonal trap.
Like our meal choices, most of what we found in Miami and South Beach we thoroughly enjoyed. While our first impression left us questioning why people regularly flock here, the more we explored, dined and appreciated its beauty beneath the surface, the more we could see ourselves returning. Find a bike, get off the beaten path and be open to the surprises that unfold.
South Beach view through our almost half-full water bottle at The James Royal Palm hotel