Cheap, healthy and kosher on South Beach. You can do it!
By Marni Marx
For most people, a good meal on South Beach requires a designer outfit and a hefty part of your paycheck in order to get a good meal. But if you like to have money left over to make a car payment but still want to enjoy the pleasures of South Beach, here are some mouth-watering (and kosher) finds. Gourmet Carrot (KM - Meat)
Gourmet Carrot isn't just an eatery for gym rats and health nuts, but a fantastic place for the rest of us who hover somewhere in the middle between athletic and couch crusader. As a meat restaurant, you won't find dairy foods on the menu, but it hardly seems to matter, as uniquely blended tastes (homemade dressings and ginger mayo) and substitutes (soy cheese) easily make up for what's missing. For a quick pick-me-up, try one of their luscious smoothies, which pack a really healthy and distinctive punch with such flavors as ginger and lychee. Salmon, tuna salad (a top seller) and veggie wraps are stuffed with mixed greens, tomatoes and avocado. If you're looking for something a bit more substantial, try the Mahi-Mahi or a gourmet burger. Some of the menu is vegetarian and vegan, offering bean soups and other veggie delights. Prices range from $8-18. There's inside and sidewalk seating, which makes the perfect place to do some people watching as well. 959 West Ave, Miami Beach; 305-534-4211Tea for Two (KM - Dairy)
Tucked away on 17th St. off of Alton Road, Tea for Two never disappoints. Be prepared to wait (and scour for parking), as oodles of people love it here. Prices are in the $10-20 range and portions are generous at this dairy restaurant, which specializes in soups, salads, sushi and sandwiches. Pizza and fish dishes also have their place on the menu and they are usually cooked to perfection. Tea does a great version of French onion soup; pairing a cup with a sushi roll (which you must try, though kosher means no shellfish) or with one of the wraps (think tuna salad or salmon) makes a perfect meal. Salads are heaping, the Greek salad being the standout. For those looking for a bit of inebriation, there's beer, wine and sake. If you can swing it, try to sit in the courtyard at the back of the restaurant - it really adds a secluded touch often hard to find on South Beach, especially on a budget.
1205 17th St, Miami Beach; 305-672-0565Pita Loca (KM - Meat)
Pita Loca is a joint. Plain and simple. It's also a hop, skip and jump away from the ocean, which makes it a perfect spot for a beach-day snack. Order anything from falafel and shawarma (spitfire-grilled turkey) to chicken or lamb, then choose to either put it on a 'plate' ($16), in a 'lafa,' gyro style ($10), or in a 'pita' ($8). The plate comes with a side of either rice and beans or fries and a salad bar stocked with scrumptious eats like corn salad, Israeli pickles and salad, Moroccan chickpeas, and roasted peppers. Everything on the menu is cooked fresh on the spot, and they'll even deliver to you on the beach if you call (and ask nicely).
601 Collins Ave, Miami Beach; 305-673-3388
Carrot juice and veggie burger with fries at Gourmet Carrot Natural Food Restaurant. Photo: Linda Bladholm