On any given day, I’ll get a text from a friend or a family member asking, “Where should I eat?”
If you’re in Coconut Grove, I’ve got some thoughts. The Grove is no longer flush with franchises and run-of-the-mill restaurants. Like the rest of Miami-Dade County, this Miami neighborhood is developing some of the most exciting, interesting cuisine in the country.
This is a list of my favorite spots in the Grove, places where I actually eat, my go-tos for an average Tuesday when I don’t have the time to cook for my daughters or when I want to treat myself midweek. Among them are unadorned comfort classics to menus meant for special nights out.
If you’re venturing into other neighborhoods, check out my full list, ‘Here’s how to eat like a local in (almost) every neighborhood in Miami’.
Michael Beltran worked with some great chefs, including James Beard winners Michael Schwartz and Norman Van Aken. He struck out on his own three years ago with Ariete, where he makes New American cuisine inspired by his grandparents’ Cuban cooking. There’s a frita on the menu for five bucks that has no business being that cheap. The pastrami short rib takes nine days to make! Go for Sunday brunch, and you can have delicious Cuban pastelitos to which sous chef Gio Fesser gives a foodie twist (lechon and Philly cheesesteak). And trust me: Order the flan made with candy cap mushrooms.
My oldest daughter always cringed at Thai food, until she ate at Atchana with me during a dining review. Interestingly, though, the cuisine is not adapted for the American palate at Atchana, where everything from the Thai beef jerky, Bangkok wings and pad Thai are as authentic as the lettuce-wrap-style miang kham, where you put together bites of coconut, lime, ginger and tamarind in piper leaves for one of the best mouthfuls of food in Miami. They do run out of the miang kham, though, and that bums me out.
This is a favorite of my all-guys book club. (Yes, we read plenty of women authors! We loved Madeline Miller’s “Circe” recently.) Matt Kuscher of Kush and Lokal applied his success with burgers and craft beer (and a love of everything local) to craft ciders and seafood at The Spillover. It excels at fried Bahamian conch and pan con minuta fish sandwich (tail on, naturally, as an homage to La Camaronera). Finish with a locally brewed cider.
Two of my favorite pizza spots are on Miami Beach (see that guide separately), but you don’t have to cross the bridge to find an exceptional pie. This spot, from the founders of the high-end Strada in the Grove across the street, is perfect for happy hour. The wood-fire ovens that burn at more than 800 degrees create a perfect, bubbly, charred pizza crust.
For my taste, I’m sharing the charcuterie board with speck. And thought I’m not usually a white-pizza guy,, man, I love the one with figs, prosciutto, caramelized onions and candied walnuts. Wow.