Monday, March 12, 2012

Miami Beach, Florida (March 2012)

I just returned from a long weekend in South Beach, where I usually frequent the Japanese-Peruvian-Brazilian fusion restaurant SushiSamba or my favorite Italian restaurant, Hosteria Romana.  But this time, I decided to skip my usual spots and try a few new places.  I ended up having four delicious but very different meals.  The restaurants are listed below from most expensive/upscale to most inexpensive/casual.

Mr. Chow at the W Hotel is for those who are not on a budget and/or are celebrating a special occasion.  The food is very good, but you pay for the name brand and the outstanding service.  Mr. Chow offers a number of vegetarian options both on and off the menu (just ask).  I especially loved the vegetable lettuce wraps with crispy seaweed and the mapo tofu.

Crispy seaweed with candied walnuts and lotus root,
vegetarian potstickers, and vegetable lettuce wraps at Mr. Chow

Wine Depot & Bistro 555 is a Mediterranean restaurant attached to an adorable wine shop in a non-touristy part of South Beach.  You can dine inside the shop or outside in a romantic courtyard.  This place is really for wine lovers, but the food is not bad, and there are several vegetarian options on the menu, including Spanish tortilla, hummus, and cheese plates.  I especially liked the gazpacho soup and the mushroom ravioli.  Dessert is also recommended!

Mushroom ravioli at Wine Depot & Bistro 555
At Wine Depot & Bistro 555, you can also eat indoors, for easy access to the wine!

5 Napkin Grill, originally from New York, is located on Lincoln Road and serves the best veggie burger I have ever tasted.  The restaurant's description on OpenTable says it's "the rare burger restaurant where vegetarians and carnivores are equally at home."  I not only love this motto, but I found it to be true.  This burger joint also serves vegetable sushi rolls, which are fantastic.

Veggie burger and sweet potato fries at 5 Napkin Grill

Finally, David's Cafe, my old Miami standby, serves the best Cuban food (and Cuban coffee) I have ever had outside of Havana.  They have two locations, but I prefer the newer one on Collins Avenue, near the beach.  For a traditional Cuban meal, order the black bean soup, tomato and lettuce salad, and some side dishes (I recommend the fried yuca and ripe plantains), all of which are meat-free and extremely satisfying.  The service also is very good (especially if you speak Spanish), and, for South Beach, the value is unbeatable.

Black beans, white rice, fried yuca, ripe plantains, and salad at David's Cafe

Mr Chow on Urbanspoon

Five Napkin Grill on Urbanspoon

Wine Depot & Bistro 555 on Urbanspoon

Wine Depot & Bistro 555 on Urbanspoon