The Biscayne Times

Saturday
Oct 25th
Miami - Upper Eastside PDF Print E-mail

Restaurant listings for the BT Dining Guide are written Pamela Robin Brandt ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but please call ahead to confirm information. Icons ($$$) represent estimates for a typical meal without wine, tax, or tip. Hyphenated icons ($-$$$) indicate a significant range in prices between lunch and dinner menus, or among individual items on those menus.
$= $10 and under
$$= $20
$$$= $30
$$$$= $40
$$$$$= $50 and over


Andiamo

5600 Biscayne Blvd.
305-762-5751
www.andiamopizza.com
With brick-oven pizzerias popping up all over town the past few years, it’s difficult to remember the dark days when this part of Mark Soyka’s 55th Street Station complex was mainland Miami’s sole source of open-flame-cooked pies. But the pizzas still hold up against the newbie pack, especially since exec chef Frank Crupi has upped the ante with unique-to-Miami offerings like a white (tomato-free) New Haven clam pie. Also available: salads, panini, and a tasty meatball appetizer with ricotta. There’s a respectable wine and beer list, too. $$


B & M Market
219 NE 79th St.
305-757-2889
Don’t let the rustic look of this mom-and-pop Caribbean market/eatery, or its ungentrified location, scare you. Walk to the kitchen in the back of the market, order, and then either eat-in (at two tables) or take-out some of Miami’s tastiest, and cheapest, West Indian food. Celeb chef Michelle Bernstein is a longtime fan of the jerk chicken, ackee and saltfish, and pigeon peas and rice cooked in coconut milk. Rotis rule here; the flatbreads come plain or, better yet, in curry chicken, goat, or remarkably full-flavored vegetarian versions. $


Balans Biscayne
6789 Biscayne Blvd.
305-534-9191
It took longer than expected, but this Brit import's third Miami venue finally opened, and rather quietly -- which has an upside. It's easier to get a table here (and to park, thanks to the free lot on 68th Street) than at Lincoln Road or Brickell. This, along with the venue's relatively large, open-to-the-street outdoor area, contributes to a more relaxed, neighborhood-focused vibe. The fun menu of global comfort food is the same (ranging from a creamy-centered cheese soufflé through savory Asian potstickers and, at breakfast, fluffy pecan/maple-garnished pancakes) and prepared as reliably well. $$-$$$


BarMeli
725 NE 79th St.
305-754-5558
Just east of Liza Meli’s defunct Ouzo’s Taverna, her similarly rustic-festive tapas and wine bar/market has an extensive, mostly small-plates menu including all of Ouzo’s Greatest Greek Hits (refreshingly light and lemony taramosalata carp roe spread, amazingly succulent grilled fresh sardines, her mom’s lemon cake, more), plus more broadly Mediterranean creations like an Italian-inspired grana padano flan, uniquely topped crostini and flatbreads, cheese/charcuterie boards. The boutique wine selection focuses on unusual (sometimes virtually unknown, and unavailable elsewhere in town) Mediterranean varietals from family-owned vineyards. $$


Big Fish
620 NE 78th St.
305-373-1770
Longtime locals who remember the uniquely Miamian ambiance of the first Big Fish, a beloved Miami River hole-in-the-wall restolounge, will want to visit this rebirth featuring an equally cool waterside setting on the Little River, plus an original owner and similar traditional Italian dishes. Our personal fave is spaghetti alla vongole veraci (with tiny true Venetian clams, hard to find today even in Venice), but you’ll know what you like on the familiar menu. Best seating: the expansive extensively (and expensively) rebuilt riverfront deck. $$$-$$$$


Blue Collar
6730 Biscayne Blvd.
305-756-0366
Like its predecessor in this space (Michael Bloise’s American Noodle Bar), this working-class-themed eatery is helmed by a former fine-dining chef, Daniel Serfer, a Chef Allen’s vet who now crafts casual, creative fare at prices all can afford. Dishes are eclectic. The roughly dozen veggie dishes alone range from curried cauliflower purée to maduros to bleu cheese roasted asparagus. Shrimp and grits compete with any in Charleston; pork and beans, topped with a perfectly runny fried egg, beats Boston’s best. $-$$


Boteco
916 NE 79th St.
305-757-7735
This strip of 79th Street is rapidly becoming a cool alt-culture enclave thanks to inviting hangouts like this rustic indoor/outdoor Brazilian restaurant and bar. Especially bustling on nights featuring live music, it’s even more fun on Sundays, when the fenced backyard hosts an informal fair and the menu includes Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, a savory stew of beans plus fresh and cured meats. But the everyday menu, ranging from unique, tapas-like pasteis to hefty Brazilian entrées, is also appealing – and budget-priced. $$


Buddha Sushi Bar
1071 NE 79th St.
305-677-3633
While the setting is still more low-rent/high-speed causeway than restaurant row, this stylish, much-more-than-sushi spot definitely brings the street giant steps toward destination-dining status. The invention and skill shown in makis like the Fruity (shrimp, salmon, tuna, whitefish, roe, asparagus, and peaches, dressed with creamy mustard sauce), or small plates like shrimp crullers with a red wine reduction, isn’t surprising considering the crafter is Michael Asalie, original chef at downtown’s Little Lotus. Order from the menu or grab something from the circulating “sushi river,” whatever floats your boat. $$$


Chef Creole
200 NW 54th St.
305-754-2223
Sparkling fresh Creole-style food is the star at chef/owner Wilkinson Sejour’s two tiny but popular establishments. While some meatier Haitian classics like griot (fried pork chunks) and oxtail stew are also available – and a $3.99 roast chicken special – seafood is the specialty here: crevette en sauce (steamed shrimp with Creole butter sauce), lambi fri (perfectly tenderized fried conch), poisson gros sel (local snapper in a spicy butter sauce), garlic or Creole crabs. The Miami branch has outdoor tiki-hut dining. $-$$


Choices Vegan Café
646 NE 79th St.
786-803-8352
Vegan fare (not just vegetarian, but dairy-free) can be a hard sell. But not Choices’ 100% plant-based breakfast/lunch/dinner dishes, even though, being also 95% organic, they’re relatively pricey. Especially recommended: hefty wraps (enclosed in varied grain tortillas or, more uniquely, in collard leaves), featuring a variety of flavorful mock-meat patties plus fresh veggies, enhanced with globally inspired sauces and add-ons like savory soy chorizo. Desserts like raw chocolate mousse cake taste satisfyingly sinful. To drink: smoothies, or go wild with organic beers and wines. $$$


DeVita’s
7251 Biscayne Blvd.
305-754-8282
This Italian/Argentine pizzeria, housed in a charming bungalow and featuring a breezy patio, covers multicultural bases. If the Old World Rucola pizza (a classic Margherita topped with arugula, prosciutto, and shredded parmesan) doesn’t do the trick, the New World Especial (a Latin pie with hearts of palm and boiled eggs) just might. Also available are pastas, salads, sandwiches, dinner entrées (eggplant parmigiana with spaghetti, lomito steak with Argentinean potato salad), and desserts (tiramisu or flan). $


Dogma Grill
7030 Biscayne Blvd.
305-759-3433
www.dogmagrill.com
Since Frankie and Priscilla Crupi took over this hot dog stand, the menu has changed significantly, with some items eliminated (any vegetarian hot dogs, salads, chichi toppings like avocado). But choices have expanded to include new dog choices (brats, Italian sausage, more) plus burgers and other classic eastern U.S. regional urban street foods: New England lobster rolls, New Orleans po’boys, Jersey shore cheese Taylors (pork roll), Baltimore crab cake sandwiches, and naturally, Phillys of all sorts -- cheese steak and beyond. $-$$


East Side Pizza
731 NE 79th St.
305-758-5351
Minestrone, sure. But a pizzeria menu with carrot ginger soup? Similarly many Italian-American pizzerias offer entrées like spaghetti and meatballs, but East Side also has pumpkin ravioli in brown butter/sage sauce, wild mushroom ravioli, and other surprisingly upscale choices, including imported Peroni beer. As for the pizza, they are classic pies, available whole or by the slice, made with fresh plum tomato sauce and Grande mozzarella (considered the top American pizza cheese). Best seating for eating is at the sheltered outdoor picnic tables. $


The Federal Food, Drink & Provisions

5132 Biscayne Blvd.
305-758-9559
At the Fed, expect what locals know to expect from sommelier/chef team Aniece Meinhold and Cesar Zapata, whose previous restaurant concepts have included Blue Piano (gourmet stoner snacks) and Vietnamese pop-up Phuc Yea. That is, expect the unexpected. The Fed is an updated tavern featuring creative, from-scratch takes on traditional American regional dishes: flaky Southern biscuits with sausage gravy (and crisp-coated sweetbreads, if desired); Northeastern-inspired “pig wings” (pork drummettes with homemade Buffalo sauce, blue cheese mousse, and pickled veggies). Desserts, from third partner Alejandro Ortiz, include sinful sticky buns. $$-$$$


Fiorito
5555 NE 2nd Ave.
305-754-2899
While owners Max and Cristian Alvarez’s description of their eatery as “a little Argentinean shack” is as charming as the brothers themselves, it conveys neither the place’s cool warmth nor the food’s exciting elegance. Dishes are authentically Argentine, but far from standard steakhouse stuff. Chef Cristian’s background at popular pop-up The Dining Room becomes instantly understandable in dishes like orange and herb-scented lechon confit (with pumpkin mash, pickled cabbage salad, and Dijon mojo) or sopa de calabaza, derived from Argentina’s peasant stew locro, but here a refined, creamy soup. Many more surprises -- even steaks. $$-$$$


Flavorish Market
7283 Biscayne Blvd.
305-754-8787
As Zabar’s reflects Manhattan’s Upper Westside neighborhood, this smaller specialty foods shop is geared toward Miami’s Upper Eastside lifestyle. The carefully curated stock ranges widely: upscale packaged foods; boutique wines/beers; artisanal cheeses and cured meats; cookbooks, kitchen utensils, more. But highlights are locally produced fare: Mimi’s famed raviolis; Roc Kat’s tropical ice creams; chef/restaurateur Ken Lyon’s prepared foods, including daily-changing dinners for two; Zak the Baker’s crusty sourdough breads, plus sandwiches on same. Best-kept secret: While there’s no official café component, comfie counter seats enable on-premises breakfasting, lunching, and coffee/pastry breaks. $-$$


Garden of Eatin’
136 NW 62nd St.
305-754-8050
Housed in a yellow building that’s nearly invisible from the street, the Garden has the comfortable feel of a beach bar, and generous servings of inexpensive Afro-Caribbean vegan food. Large or small plates, with salad and fried sweet plantains (plus free soup for eat-in lunchers), are served for five or seven bucks. Also available are snacks like vegetarian blue corn tacos, desserts like sweet potato pie, and a breakfast menu featuring organic blueberry waffles with soy sausage patties. $


Go To Sushi
5140 Biscayne Blvd.
305-759-0914
www.gotosushimiami.com
This friendly, family-run Japanese fast-food eatery offers original surprises like the Caribbean roll (a festively green parsley-coated maki stuffed with crispy fried shrimp, avocado, sweet plantain, and spicy mayo), or a wonderfully healthful sesame-seasoned chicken soup with spinach, rice noodles, and sizable slices of poultry. Health ensured, you can the enjoy a guiltless pig-out on Fireballs: fried dumplings of chicken, cabbage, and egg, crusted with quills -- really a delectable crunchy noodle mix. $


Gourmet Station
7601 Biscayne Blvd.
305-762-7229
Home-meal replacement, geared to workaholics with no time to cook, has been popular for years. But the Gourmet Station has outlasted most of the competition. Main reason: deceptive healthiness. These are meals that are good for you, yet taste good enough to be bad for you. Favorite items include precision-grilled salmon with lemon-dill yogurt sauce, and lean turkey meatloaf with homemade BBQ sauce – sin-free comfort food. Food is available à la carte or grouped in multimeal plans customized for individual diner’s nutritional needs. $$


Jimmy’s East Side Diner
7201 Biscayne Blvd.
305-754-3692
Open for more than 30 years, Jimmy’s respects the most important American diner tradition: breakfast at any hour. And now that the place is open for dinner, you can indulge your breakfast cravings for several more hours. There are blueberry hot cakes and pecan waffles; eggs any style, including omelets and open-face frittatas; and a full range of sides: biscuits and sausage gravy, grits, hash, hash browns, even hot oatmeal. And don’t forget traditional diner entrées like meat loaf, roast turkey, liver and onions, plus burgers, salad platters, and homemade chicken soup. $-$$


La Tour Eiffel
7281 Biscayne Blvd.
305-754-0014
This cute restaurant/crêperie serves three meals, from traditional French breakfasts of croissants/baguettes and jam, or heftier ones including pain perdu (real French toast), to dinners featuring a chef’s special $28.90 two-course meal of classics: country pâté, Provencal fish soup, bold boeuf bourgignon, creamy-rich poulet à la Normande, a moules/frites that even comes with a glass of muscadet, and many more starter/entrée choices. But definitely don’t miss the crêpes, served all day in both sweet and savory varieties -- the latter made correctly, for a change, with heftier buckwheat flour. $$-$$$$


Loba
7420 Biscayne Blvd.
786-536-6692
As suggested by this comfie gastropub’s interactive literary ambiance (décor features shelves of paperbacks), the concept of young financial-analyst-turned-restaurateur Jessica Sanchez is to encourage creativity, including exploring Miami’s unique culture-agriculture through food created by a staff including experienced chefs, FIU culinary students, and her mom Libia, former owner of the traditional Colombian Patacón chain. Needless to say, the menu is eclectic, ranging from South American (the Patacón, a bandeja paisa-inspired sampler plate) to modernized Old South (MiMo Fried Chicken with crispy kale and local honey). Boredom? Impossible. $$-$$$


Lo De Lea
7001 Biscayne Blvd.
305-456-3218
In Casa Toscana’s former space, this cute, contemporary parillada is proof that you can have an Argentinean meal and a cholesterol test in the same month. While traditional parillada dishes are tasty, they’re meat/fat-heavy, basically heaps of grilled beef. Here the grill is also used for vegetables (an unusually imaginative assortment, including bok choi, endive, and fennel), two of which are paired with your protein of choice. You can indulge in a mouthwateringly succulent vacio (flank steak), and walk out without feeling like you’re the cow. $$-$$$


Magnum Lounge
709 NE 79th St.
305-757-3368
It’s a restaurant. It’s a lounge. But it’s decidedly not a typical Miami restolounge, or like anything else in Miami. Forbidding from the outside, on the inside it’s like a time-trip to a cabaret in pre-WWII Berlin: bordello-red décor, romantically dim lighting, show-tune live piano bar entertainment, and to match the ambiance, elegantly updated retro food served with style and a smile. For those feeling flush, home-style fried chicken is just like mom used to make -- in her wildest dreams. $$$


Michy’s
6927 Biscayne Blvd.
305-759-2001
Don’t even ask why Michele Bernstein, with a top-chef résumé, not to mention regular Food Network appearances, opened a homey restaurant in an emerging but far from fully gentrified neighborhood. Just be glad she did, as you dine on white almond gazpacho or impossibly creamy ham and blue cheese croquetas. Though most full entrées also come in half-size portions (at almost halved prices), the tab can add up fast. The star herself is usually in the kitchen. Parking in the rear off 69th Street. $$$-$$$$


Mina’s Mediterraneo
749 NE 79th St.
786-391-0300
Unlike most restaurants labeled “Mediterranean,” this one, decorated with restrained modern elegance, really does have dishes from countries surrounding all sides of the sea (though not necessarily from the countries’ seaside regions, as boeuf Bourguignon attests). Our favorites, like owner Yasmine Kotb, whose heritage is Egyptian-via-Texas, and her mom, the chef, are those featuring exotic Eastern/North African tastes -- with twists. Especially fun: Egypt’s besara, a light fava-based hummus; falafel “sliders” in warm pita with Israeli salad, slaw, and tahini; and an unusual side of grilled kale with yogurt dressing and hazelnuts. $$


Mi Vida Café
7244 Biscayne Blvd.
305-759-6020
At this indoor/outdoor vegetarian and raw-food vegan café, culinary-school-trained chef/owner Daniela Lagamma produces purist produce-oriented dishes that are easy to understand, like sparkling-fresh salads and smoothies, plus more technique-intensive mock meat or cheese items, based on soy proteins, that satisfy even confirmed carnivores. Particularly impressive on the regular menu: a superior Sloppy Joe made with mushroom confit, braised homemade seitan, spinach, and rich almond romescu sauce; and cannelloni de verdura, homemade crepes stuffed with spinach and cashew “ricotta.” Do check the daily specials, too. $$-$$$


Moonchine
7100 Biscayne Blvd.
305-759-3999
Like its Brickell-area sibling Indochine, this friendly Asian bistro serves fare from three nations: Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Menus are also similar, split between traditional dishes like pad Thai and East/West fusion creations like the Vampire sushi roll (shrimp tempura, tomato, cilantro, roasted garlic). But it also carves out its own identity with original creations, including yellow curry-spiced fried rice. Nearly everything is low in sodium, fat, and calories. A large rear patio is inviting for dining and entertainment. $$-$$$


Moshi Moshi
7232 Biscayne Blvd.
786-220-9404
This offspring of South Beach old-timer Moshi Moshi is a cross between a sushi bar and an izakaya (Japanese tapas bar). Even more striking than the hip décor is the food’s unusually upscale quality. Sushi ranges from pristine individual nigiri to over-the-top maki rolls. Tapas are intriguing, like arabiki sausage, a sweet-savory pork fingerling frank; rarely found in restaurants even in Japan, they’re popular Japanese home-cooking items. And rice-based plates like Japanese curry (richer/sweeter than Indian types) satisfy even the biggest appetites. $-$$$


News Lounge
5582 NE 4th Ct.
305-758-9932
www.the55thststation.com
Mark Soyka’s new News is, as its name suggests, more a friendly neighborhood hangout and watering hole than a full-fledged eatery. Nevertheless the menu of light bites is -- along with other lures like an inviting outdoor patio and rest rooms that resemble eclectic art galleries -- part of the reason visitors stay for hours. Especially recommended are fat mini-burgers with chipotle ketchup; a brie, turkey, and mango chutney sandwich on crusty baguette; and what many feel is the original café’s Greatest Hit: creamy hummus with warm pita. $


Ni.Do. Caffe & Mozzarella Bar 
7295 Biscayne Blvd.
305-960-7022 
Don’t let this little café’s easily overlooked strip-mall location, or its informal interior, fool you. The warm welcome is authentically Italian, as are cleverly crafted antipasti, simple but full-flavored pastas, and homemade pastries (from rosemary breadsticks to fruit-topped dessert tortas) that will transport your taste buds to Tuscany. And the housemade mozzarella or burrata cheeses -- truly milk elevated to royalty -- will transport you to heaven. A small market area provides Italian staples, plus superb salumi and the magnificent mozz, to go. $$-$$$


Royal Bavarian Schnitzel Haus
1085 NE 79th St.
305-754-8002
With Christmas lights perpetually twinkling and party noises emanating from a new outdoor biergarten, this German restaurant is owner Alex Richter’s one-man gentrification project, transforming a formerly uninviting stretch of 79th Street one pils at a time. The fare includes housemade sausages (mild veal bratwurst, hearty mixed beef/pork bauernwurst, spicy garlicwurst) with homemade mustard and catsup; savory yet near-greaseless potato pancakes; and, naturally, schnitzels, a choice of delicate pounded pork, chicken, or veal patties served with a half-dozen different sauces. $$-$$$


Siam Rice
7941 Biscayne Blvd.
305-758-0516
You’ll find all the familiar favorite Thai and Japanese items here, and prices for curries and noodle dishes (all customizable regarding choice of protein, preparation, and heat level) are especially good at lunch. But don’t overlook somewhat pricier specialties like a deep-fried yet near-greaseless boneless half duck with veggies in red curry sauce. There’s also an unusually extensive list of salads, some with inventive fusion touches, like a grilled shrimp/soba salad featuring traditional Thai flavors (sriracha chiles, fish sauce, lime) and Japanese green tea noodles. $-$$$


Soyka
5556 NE 4th Court
305-759-3117
Since opening in 1999, Soyka has often been credited with sparking the Upper Eastside’s revival. But the 2010 arrival of three Joe Allen veterans as executive chef, pastry chef, and sommelier signaled a culinary revival for the restolounge, always a neighborhood focal point, now more food-focused. The contemporary comfort food menu ranges from fun small plates (deviled eggs with smoked salmon and dill, crisp-fried fiocchi pockets with gorgonzola sauce, oysters Rockefeller) to heftier items like burgers and steak au poivre. And don’t miss the sticky date/toffee pudding.  $$-$$$


Sushi Siam
5582 NE 4th Ct.
305-751-7818
On the menu of sushi-bar specialties plus a small selection of Thai and Japanese cooked dishes, there are a few surprises, such as a unique lobster maki that’s admittedly huge in price ($25.95), but also in size: six ounces of crisp-fried lobster chunks, plus asparagus, avocado, lettuce, tobiko (flying fish), masago (smelt) roes, and special sauces. Thai dishes come with a choice of more than a dozen sauces, ranging from traditional red or green curries to the inventive, such as an unconventional honey sauce. $$$


Sweet Saloon
7100 Biscayne Blvd.
305-759-3999
At this dessert/snack/cocktail bar, from the owner of Moonchine, you’ll find live and DJ entertainment, too, from 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.-- assuming you can find the place, that is. It’s above the pan-Asian eatery, up a hidden back staircase. Asian savory snacks include dumplings, edamame, krab rangoons, satays. Desserts range from homey American (NY cheesecake, mini cupcakes) to continental (strawberries melba, housemade Belgian waffles, a shareable chocolate fondue/fruit platter). Actually, some cocktails double as desserts (a Godiva dark chocolate martini) or Asian savories (infusion jars of Stoli and lemongrass). $$


Tap 79
1071 NE 79th St.
305-381-0946
One-time fine-dining chef Alfredo Patino, whose still thriving wine/tapas bar Bin No. 18 was one of the first chef-owned restaurants to bring casual culinary sophistication to the downtown/midtown Biscayne Corridor, does the same for still-transitional 79th Street with this convivial gastropub, which has a similar sharable-plates menu, but built more around beer than wine pairings. Highlights range from carefully curated, imported charcuterie/cheese plates to fun chef-driven items: house-cured beef jerky, brown sugar/ginger-marinated salmon “Scooby Snacks,” hearty Coke-braised short ribs with sweet corn polenta and pungent Maytag blue cheese. $$-$$$


Taperia Raca
7010 Biscayne Blvd.
786-751-8756
From the chef/GM team behind Giorgio Rapicavoli’s rebelliously eclectic fare at Coral Gables’ Eating House, Taperia has a very different concept: traditional Spanish tapas with twists that make a big difference. Try both patatas bravas, Spain’s classic spicy fried potatoes with smoked tomato sauce and garlicky allioli, and Rapicavoli’s patatas contentas, calmed by bacon/truffle-enriched carbonara sauce (with manchego replacing parmesan). Bacon-wrapped dates, found everywhere, here translate as more complexly savory/sweet/tart bacon-wrapped apricots and Iberico cheese, with honey. Do reserve for brunch, where cornmeal/peach pancakes, or fluffy torrejas, rule. $$$


Via Verdi Cucina Rustica
6900 Biscayne Blvd
786-615-2870
After years of critical acclaim cooking the cuisine of their native Piedmont at ultra-upscale Quattro, on Lincoln Road, twin brother chefs Nicola and Fabrizio Carro decided to work for themselves, hands-on renovating the former space of MiMo District pioneer Uva 69. Cuisine here is similarly authentic, with creative twists. But there are important differences: emphasis on local, rather than mostly imported, ingredients; inspiration from all Italian regions; and best, astonishing affordability. Housemade spinach/ricotta gnudi baked in an ocean of burrata is a delight, but it’s hard to go wrong here. $$-$$$

 

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