Archive for ‘Miami Restaurants’

August 4, 2016

Lulu in the Grove

by jem614

Once a year my friends come in from out of town and we get together, all of us girls that haven’t seen each other in a while, and have a night out.  We chose Lulu after a coworker suggested it had the perfect atmosphere for a chill girls night out.

What a great place to hang out and we even got a round of drinks on the house (it helps to know people, that’s all I’m going to say).  Our waiter was very sweet but probably a little overwhelmed by our outspoken group.

As we were only supposed to be there for drinks, I ordered an appetizer of hummus and pita sticks that was the perfect snack.  My friend then ordered the Dulce de Leche that came with a beautiful strawberry flower on top.  There are quite a few options for vegetarians including the Brussel Sprouts appetizer that I heard is a favorite.  Veggie burgers, salads, etc. all are included in the menu.

If you’re looking for a nice romantic spot, a place to people watch or just to hang out with friends, this is definitely the place to go in Coconut Grove.

Thank you Lulu for such a great evening!
Lulu’s Facebook
Lulu’s Website


August 3, 2015

Lagniappe House, Midtown

by jem614

If the draw of jazzy music pulls you in, Lagniappe House in Midtown, Miami is the place to be.  Great lighting, relaxed atmosphere, good wine and cheese, all make for a great night out.

Google translates “Lagniappe” as something given as a bonus or extra gift.  This place lives up to it’s meaning.  Not only do they have a great little wine house inside but the backyard is a huge open space with tables enough for large crowds.  If you’re looking for something loud and intimate, stay inside for the music.

Lagniappe is a “serve yourself” house.  There is a wine bar where you can order from a variety of wines and then out back is the cheese course to order for your table.  You can order a large tray or a single serving that includes bread and fig jam. You pick out your cheese from the fridge and then they create your plate behind the counter.  Service is fairly quick even while busy.

But wait, there’s more!! Lagniappe House also doubles as a sort of “bed & breakfast” with New Orleans style bedrooms upstairs to rent for the night.  I can just imagine falling asleep to the jazz music as it floats up from the street.  The prices are actually quite good for midtown as well.

This place does get busy, especially if a popular band is playing so get there early if you want to sit.  We’re discovering more and more amazing hidden places in and around Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and can’t wait to try some more.  Get out and enjoy your city and let us know what special places you have found!

Lagniappe House website or Lagniappe House Facebook for more info on what bands are playing and when they are open.

July 27, 2015

Panther Coffee, Wynwood

by jem614

If you haven’t yet been to Wynwood in downtown Miami, you’re becoming one of the few.  It’s host to art shows and an unending stream of tourists coming to take pictures of random art all over the sidewalks and graffiti’d walls.

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I have driven through it and kept making a mental note to go but hadn’t made the time till this past weekend when my sister-in-law suggested we check out “Panther Coffee”.  It’s very hipster and packed full of people on a Saturday morning.  In fact, I waited over 5 minutes for a coffee but it’s worth it for the people-watching.

Their outside tables are quite large and even a middle table that resembles a “family eating” style as everyone is at one very large u-shaped table.  Definitely a must if you are in Wynwood and you have to try the Bunnie Cakes mini cupcakes- super cute and gluten/dairy free!

Prices: Think “Starbucks and a little bit more”.

July 20, 2015

Arabian Knife Food Truck, South Miami/Sweetwater

by jem614

I like the “dive-y” feel of food trucks, it doesn’t matter how clean or presentable they look, it just reminds me of cookouts and family time.  Some people are over the whole trend but I think they are still relevant.  Especially when you stop at the restaurant you looked up online (Spice ‘N Curry Indian Restaurant), wake your toddler up from the back seat and carry him in, only to realize that the restaurant part of the store closes at 4pm.  4pm?  On a Friday?  What restaurant closes that early?

Needless to say, I was starving, I had a cranky toddler in the back and I was an hour and a half into a trip that should have taken 30 minutes in light traffic.

Just passing FIU, going south on 107th, I saw a food truck out of the corner of my eye.  Thank goodness!  It was middle-eastern and my taste buds were screaming.

I can always find vegetarian options at middle eastern/Arabic restaurants because there are so many choices like Tabbouleh or Babaghanoush or hummus, falafel, etc.  I ordered the usual falafel wrap and waited about 10 minutes (there was no line in front of me) so I was little apprehensive about how it would taste.  I also asked for baklava so the cookie would be satisfied till I got him some nuggets because they didn’t have anything for him- the menu is a little short as most food trucks are.

One falafel wrap and two small bakalava’s was about $11. It was worth it though, that pita had tons of little falafel balls, a nice lemony taste, pickles (I love pickles on my falafel wraps) and just the right amount of dressing.  The cookie even had a few bites of the falafel and asked for more – he never tries anything new.

If you live near FIU or find yourself wandering the back streets of west Miami, check them out: Arabian Knife Facebook

November 12, 2013

Mandolin, Mid- Town Greek/Turkish Cuisine

by jem614

My sister-in-law and I were downtown on Saturday and stopped by “Mandolin” with the cookie (my son, for those of you who are new) to have some lunch.  The place is very non-descript except for a valet sign out front.  I would have never noticed it driving by.  It’s definitely a treasure in the heart of Miami with it’s gorgeous waiters, outdoor covered dining and healthy selections.

We both decided to get the samplers for lunch- she got the Turkish and I chose the Greek but switched out the Tarama (fish rowe) for the tomato walnut dip.  I have to be honest and say that it wasn’t the most delicious meal I’ve had but it was simple and I had a choice of adding cucumbers or the endless “complimentary” bread-  I chose both and was happy with it.

I’m guessing that the mushroom sandwich is probably quite tasty, I will definitely be going back if just for the cool atmosphere!  For more information on them, please check out their website:

August 5, 2013

Soyka in Midtown Miami

by jem614

I had brunch with a great friend on Saturday at Soyka, a popular place in Midtown, Miami.  I’ve been here so many times but it’s been years since my “Miami Herald” days so it was nice to revisit this great staple!


Soyka is one of those places that could be very elegant or very laid back depending on your mood.  They also have a really small, cute area outside where you can sit with your beau or your BFF and chat with more privacy.  I adore everything about it, including the relatively inexpensive menu and the numerous choices.

This weekend, I went all out and ordered the french toast with ice cream (yes, it’s a menu item for brunch)!  Both items on their own probably wouldn’t be anything super to rave about but together they make a smashing combination.  If my son hadn’t been tearing up the table and spilling water everywhere (along with crying and pulling my glasses off – don’t hold it against him because he’s got three nasty teeth snaggling their way through) I would have probably ordered some coffee and maybe slowed down to enjoy it some more instead of inhaling it.

Whew, that was long-winded, so sorry!  I’m sure you get the point, it is an absolute must try for mid-town dining and for you out-of-towners, to try.

For more info or to look at their menu, go to    They have some really great options for Vegetarians!

December 26, 2012

Steve’s Pizza for Christmas Dinner?

by jem614


Christmas day is a little odd in our house since it’s usually just my husband and myself (and sometimes his sister).  We don’t have a very long drawn-out gift opening like I had as a child.  Instead, we take about 5 minutes and open our gifts and then go out for breakfast and maybe dinner later in the day.  I admit it’s fairly boring; I’m looking forward to the little one being old enough to enjoy Christmas so we can have a little more fun!

This year, we went for dinner at a pizza joint- yes a pizza joint.  Nobody was open yesterday so we ended up at Steve’s Pizza south of Aventura.  Apparently this place is famous and has a lot of buzz around it so we were eager to try.

Walking in you’re bombarded with graffitti all over the walls, chairs, booths which would be fun if it weren’t a little dingy and dirty.   Mind you, they were pretty busy for a Christmas afternoon so we overlooked the napkins on the floor and the dust balls hanging on the lights.  I ordered the veggie stromboli which was HUGE and extremely hot but I was disappointed by how bland it tasted.  The marinara sauce is a little sweet and served on the side.  I guess to make sure it wouldn’t get soggy?  Either way, it wasn’t a good mix- sweet marinara with veggies and cheese.


I realize that it’s not the cleanest of meals but I was so disappointed in it that I kept pulling it apart and this is what I came up with right before I stopped eating it.

My sister-in-law ordered a red stripe beer and cherry cheesecake which came out completely frozen and she had to wait till she got home to eat it because her plastic fork barely cut through it (we were there for almost 30 minutes and it was still frozen when we left).  Who serves frozen cheesecake?

I don’t like giving out bad reviews but because this place gets rave reviews from everyone else, I felt it was ok to be completely honest, I don’t think we’ll be hurting their business any.

Bottom line, if you like some flavor and hate sweet marinara sauce, this isn’t the place for you.  Oh- and if you want a desert you can actually eat at the table, it’s probably better to go to a lesser-known restaurant that has to work harder for their customers….

October 9, 2012

A Vegan Celebration for the New Mom: Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin

by ashley

Jessica officially has a beautiful baby boy! He was born last Sunday and I’m the proudest auntie ever – he is absolutely adorable, and more importantly, both baby and mother are healthy. The week of Jessica’s due date I wanted to take her out for a pre-maternity leave celebration lunch, and what better way to celebrate than with a new vegan restaurant. I had originally found Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin when searching for a birthday lunch location in February, but we just hadn’t had the opportunity to visit. It is located in North Miami Beach, just off I-95 on 167th Street, so not too far from Miami Lakes.

The restaurant itself is very homey, with sparse furnishings and plastic/paper serving plates. There are only a couple tables and even fewer menus, so be prepared to cozy up and share while here. I dragged along one of our latin, meat-eating co-workers here for one of his first vegan experiences, which to his surprise he found the food more than edible. I couldn’t get any higher praises out of him, but he’s a good sport for trying. The menu is varied, ranging from breakfast items and sandwiches to full meals. Their full meals come as daily specials, which can also be purchased as a weekly meal plan (cantina for us Miamians). Prices are also extremely reasonable, at around $8-12 per person. I loved how they offered samples to all diners of the daily special, it’s a great touch. You can also ask for samples of many of the menu items, so just ask and they will oblige the best they can.

We visited on a Monday, so I was lucky enough to try their Stewed Vegan Fish. It was delicious, and a huge portion of food for $9.95. It was my first time trying a vegan fish substitute, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Unfortunately, it didn’t taste much different than other meat substitutes I’ve tried. More like turkey consistency, but still delicious in the sauce they made along with it. Served on the side was a delicious split pea soup, basmati spinach brown rice, a seitan stew and a salad. I absolutely recommend ordering the daily special if you have a big appetite.

Jessica had the Vegan Philly Steak Sandwich ($9.95), which looked and tasted amazing. Sprinkled with just a bit of shredded cheese (looked a lot like daiya, although didn’t confirm with them), the seitan was cooked perfectly along with sautéed onions and peppers. It was served on a crispy wheat baguette. Our co-worker tried a Vietnamese-style sandwich (essentially a Banh Mi) they had on special that day (it isn’t on the regular menu), which was made with seitan, cucumbers, carrots and other various vegetables. The Banh Mi was also served on a wheat baguette, both sandwiches had a small salad on the side.

To end our lovely vegan celebration, Jessica opted for their red velvet cake. Rich, sweet and decadent, it is a great end to a meal. I’d like to try some of the other options they have next time.

Vegetarian Restaurant by Hakin

73 Northeast 167th Street  North Miami Beach, FL 33162
(305) 405-6346

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June 12, 2012

Discovering Indian Cuisine at Mint Indian Brasserie

by ashley

Everything seems to be more vibrant and intense in India, dizzyingly colorful and filled with rich scents and spices. My interest was initially piqued by their beautiful clothing, especially their tunics and accessories, which were things I could easily wear. Despite years of searching for exotic clothing and décor, I had never actually set foot in an Indian restaurant. Maybe it was my aversion to spicy food, maybe it is just the fact that there extremely few Indian restaurants in Miami, but before this weekend, the extent of my experience with Indian food was limited to frozen foods. Jessica loves Indian food and we had been planning to have an Indian-themed lunch for quite some time, so when a coupon on LivingSocial popped in my inbox for a new upscale Indian restaurant in Brickell, I knew we had to try it.

Mint Leaf Brasserie in Brickell (Financial District, Downtown Miami, FL) is relatively new to the downtown scene, although their original restaurant in Coral Gables has been established since 2008. It is definitely an upscale version of Indian food, and quite possibly not the best choice for an introduction to the cuisine, but all the same we enjoyed it tremendously. While there was some haggling to be done to actually use the coupon they had advertised with LivingSocial, the food itself was wonderful. We visited the restaurant at noon on a quiet Sunday, we were the only patrons in the entire establishment for most of our meal. Being that all the items on the menu were foreign to me, we opted for their vegetarian thali, meaning plate in Hindi. A thali is an array of traditional dishes served as a platter, typically consisting of rice, vegetables, curd, chutney, dhal (pureed lentils, chickpeas or other starchy vegetable), a sweet dish and bread.

A vegetarian thali at Mint Leaf Brasserie costs $35 per person and includes vegetable bhajjia, tandoori paneer, sooki sabsi, dal makhani, channa masala, Bombay aloo, pillau rice, naan and a choice of either kofta or makhani mattar paneer for your main entrée. If you are anything like me, most of this sounds like gibberish, but fear not as it is all wonderfully delicious. My favorite was most definitely the kofta, which is vegetables and grains made into a paste, and then formed into balls. They are then simmered in a spicy sauce, absorbing the flavors and becoming very soft. They are excellent when scooped with a thick piece of naan (grilled flatbread).

While the prices may be a bit higher than you would pay on average for a Sunday lunch, the experience is priceless. In one afternoon I feel I have learned a tremendous amount about Indian cuisine, the tastes that I favor and feel much more confident venturing out to another Indian restaurant. If you are in the Brickell or Coral Gables area during the weekdays for lunch, they also have a smaller portion thali for only $14.50.

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March 29, 2012

Veggie Jamaican Patties at Jamaica Kitchen in South Miami, FL

by ashley

by Ashley Morgan

The spicy scents of Jamaica hang in the air of the cramped dining area, outfitted with barstools and counters fixed to the perimeter walls. There is no white space on the walls as coolers filled with Jamaican specialty sodas, shelves of spices, imported canned goods and colorful posters fill every available space. A friendly face welcomes you from behind a small counter in the back. Curried pumpkin soup and veggie patties await you from behind the kitchen wall. This is Jamaica Kitchen, located in an unassuming shopping plaza in South Miami, FL. Had it not been for the Food Network, I doubt we would have ever found it.

A few years ago Jamaica Kitchen was visited by Guy Fieri on the Food Network, my boyfriend saw the episode and had to drive there the same day, about a 30 minute drive from our house. Ever since he has been making special trips for their specialty: patties. While their most popular are of the meat variety, I have had several of their vegetable and tofu patties and can attest they are delicious. Rich, flaky baked pastry shells filled with curry tofu or salty vegetables.
Of all patties tried in South Florida (believe me, we’ve been on a mission to try them all), Jamaica Kitchen has been the most delicious, most consistent of them all. If you are anywhere in the South Florida area, you need to make the drive to South Miami to try them for yourself. You will not be disappointed!
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