Nestled between several highways and boasting a bizarre (and perhaps lax) use of land, with strip malls bumping into grazing cattle across the street from industrial warehouses that are kitty-corner to residential subdivisions, Doral is a unique experiment in urban sprawl. Named after the golf course, the town has become the heart of many South American expats who have brought with them their culinary flair and helped turn Doral into a treasure box of hole-in-the-wall dining finds. Make a lunch date with Doral.
Olivos, 10455 NW 41st St., Miami; 305-718-9968; www.olivosrestaurant.com
Call ahead if you want to lunch at this small and elegant little Argentinian bistro. The place fills up with white collars and well-heeled business lunchers who crave the well-priced lunch specials like salmon with butternut squash mash or flank steak with manchego potatoes. The menu also has South American staples like empanadas, cheese and meat plates and a much-coveted full bar, a rarity in Doral's smaller establishments.
Prana Health Food & Vegetarian Restaurant, 7293 NW 36th St., Doral; 305-594-6966
This vegetarian lunch spot is a labor of love for owner Yanelis Vazquez, a Dominican health nut who channeled his own passion for a healthy lifestyle into this restaurant/health food shop. Top choices at their daily buffet are the vegetarian lasagna, pumpkin soup and the tofu with mixed veggies. The buffet is only $9.50 plus tax, not bad for a hungry vegetarian. The buffet is open from 10.15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. but the store is open from 7:30 a.m. mixing up smoothies.
Mesazul, 4400 NW 87th Ave., Doral; 305-591-6616
To up the ante for a lunch date, head over to Mesazul at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa Miami. Their lunch buffet is open weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. with pasta and sushi stations. The Latin-American inspired menu is heavy on the beef - their Prime Steaks & Chops Served with a Trio of Chimichurris is one of the stars of the show. Pork lovers will dig the New Age Lechon Asado, but the Slow Roasted Rotisserie Mojo Chicken and Grouper Oscar are also favorites.
Don Davis Steakhouse, 1200 NW 78th Ave, #116, Doral; 305-591-1222
Affordable beef dishes with two or more sides - that's what you will find at Don Davis, an Uruguayan steakhouse with a no-frills approach to beef that allows the place to keep main courses under $15. Have a look at the lunch menu (seriously, there are pictures) and see which cut of beef and sides you prefer and be ready to head back to work in a steak-induced food coma.
Fiesta Mexican Grill, 10433 NW 41st St, Doral; 305-468-8736; fiestamexicangrill.com
A bit of Homestead in Doral is what you will find at this hole in the wall Mexican spot. The family-run place fills up quickly with a hurried lunch crowd in search of the handmade tortillas, fresh guacamole, tasty quesadillas and other Mexican mainstays.
La Taberna de San Roman, 7800 NW 25th St. Suite 2, Doral; 305-593-8110; latabernadesanroman.com
This tiny Spanish spot nestled in a mixed-use commercial/warehouse plaza is the definition of a hidden gem. The place has been serving up tapas and entertaining crowds with flamenco shows for 25 years. The menu offers a greatest hits of Spanish tapas: cheese and meat tablas with jamon serrano and manchego, garlic mushrooms, fried chickpeas but also has entrees like skirt steak, brandy-soaked porkloin and paellas. The daily chef specials are a good bet for keeping within your lunch budget, but it's not a bad place for an after dinner drink with friends or to take in the Saturday night flamenco show.
Shorty's Bar-B-Q - Doral, 2255 NW 87th Ave., Doral; 305-471-5554; www.shortys.com/doral_bar-b-q.php
If you don't mind getting your hands dirty and good old American comfort food is what you want, Shorty's Doral outpost is where you need to be. With their signature barbecue sauce dripping off anything that can be grilled plus their buttery corn on the cob and delicious cole slaw, it's Fourth of July all year round at Shorty's. You will understand the paper towel on each table once you start eating.
Patagonia Gourmet & Bakery, 10375 NW 41st St, Doral; 305-513-2624; patagonianahuen.com
Stock up on freshly made alfajores, imported dulce de leche, crisp empanadas and other baked goods at this South American food market/lunch spot that offers all the comforts of home to Doral's Argentine expats. For lunch, grab a ticket then order from their brief but tasty menu of entrees like skirt or flank steak with salad or steak sandwiches, and as you feast, eye the wine bottles that surround you and find a nice Malbec to take home for dinner. Speaking of dinner, stop by on the way home to pick out a cut of meat to cook up yourself.
SooWoo Restaurant & Lounge, 9753 NW 41st St., Doral; 305-477-4477; soowoodoral.com
So are you sick of steak yet? Try a little Japanese for lunch. With a diverse menu that offers fresh sushi, creative rolls and hibachis plus Korean options. The parking situation in Doral Plaza is a bit annoying -- there are both a Starbucks and a Publix in the plaza, but the ample seating makes getting a table during the lunch rush a sure bet.
Maison Gourmet, 10728 NW 58th St., Doral; 305-597-8333; maisongourmetmiami.com
A French bistro with Mediterranean leanings, this is the perfect place to pop in for a Croque Monsieur or a crepe (try the Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomato), salad, or to end your carb fast on the delicious Risotto de Manzo, with tender beef, sundried tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms and Parmesean cheese.
Il Forno Ristorante, 9350 NW 25th St., Doral; 305-599-4178; www.ilfornousa.com
Who says there's no waterfront dining in Doral? Grab a table on the back porch of this Italian place and eat in front of one of Miami's many manmade ponds. Jokes aside, this upscale Italian eatery does succeed in bringing an elegant dining experience to Doral, complete with white tablecloths and chic decor. Ordering a la carte for lunch may break the bank (entrees run $16-$28) so glance at the Pranzo Ejecutive di Jorno, aka the Executive Lunch, a chef's choice that will cost you only $13. But you can't go wrong with the pizza menu.
El Corral, 7780 NW 25th St., Doral;
A transplant from Colombia with more than 200 locations throughout Latin America, El Corral is a burger place in the vein of Shake Shack, featuring quality Angus meat and fresh toppings with up market prices. Don't be surprised if you drop $15 on a burger, fries and a beverage, but for those who want a burger that isn't fresh from the microwave, this place will do.
More lunch dining in Doral:
La Peruana Cafe, 10771 NW 58th St., Doral; 786-621-0880 (Peruvian)
Mondongo's Restaurant, 3500 NW 87 Ave., Doral; 305-718-4977 (Colombian)
K'Chapas True Venezuelan Flavor, 5209 NW 79th Ave., Doral; 305-592-7689 (Venezuelan)
Cleopatra Mediterranean Grill, 3655 NW 107th Ave., Doral; 305-599-8207 (Middle Eastern)
Los Parrilleros Restaurant,10775 NW 41st St., Doral; 305-597-0019 (Argentinean)
Mi Tinaja, 7874 NW 52nd St., Doral; 305-716-9007 (Dominican/Colombian)
Positano Ristorante Italiano, 2475 NW 95th Ave., Doral; 305-594-2821(Italian)
Layali Miami Mediterranean Restaurant and Hookah Lounge, 11402 NW 41st St., 305-403-0188 (Mediterranean)
Doña Empanada, 10822 NW 58th St., Doral; 305-629-9414 (Venezuelan)
Brisa de Espana, 8726 NW 26th St., Doral; 305-436-3995 (Spanish)
Yuki Hana, 1450 NW 87th Ave., Doral; 786-331-7857 (Korean & Japanese)