You don’t always have to wait in TSA Security lines to get a feel for international travel. Here are five dining options that will take you out of Miami, if only for a few hours. All vetted by the author and self-proclaimed foodie!
1. Ethiopian – Awash
Consistently some of the best food I have had in Miami. Awash is a nondescript Ethiopian restaurant, run by Ethiopians, located in an unassuming strip mall in Miami Gardens. The food is always fresh, delicious and filling. The service is always slow, in the most charming way possible. The wine list is minimal, just as you’d expect it to be. Ethiopian music videos play on repeat and the crowd is always eclectic. Highly affordable, satiating and most of all, FUN.
2. Mexican – Mi Rinconcito Mexicano
For a city severely lacking, Mi Rinconcito Mexicano is Miami’s answer to authentic-as-it-gets Mexican food. A statement further proven by the simple fact that the restaurant is ALWAYS full and a good 75% of its patrons (please do not fact-check me on this percentage) are, indeed, Mexican. The menu is extensive and has a surprisingly long list of vegetarian options. There is no liquor license, so don’t be fooled by the Margarita that is seemingly made from cheap wine. When you’ve had your taco fix, head to the bakery in the back for a pan dulce or peruse the in-house jewelry market while you digest.
3. Indonesian – Bali Cafe
This place is a gem. The menu is about 5 pages long, but you could honestly just point to anything on it and be happy with the outcome. It’s a small place, with just a few tables scattered amongst a random assortment of Indonesian wall decorations. Locals know the beauty of this place and dine here often. The food is delicious, fresh and colorful, the portions are huge, and the prices are downright cheap. There is wine, there is beer, and when there is no wine (because sometimes, well, there just isn’t), you get the beer.
4. Middle Eastern – Middle East Best Food (no website)
Warning – This is NOT a restaurant. This is a deli, a rather hodge podge one, located on Coral Way. The owner is a small, proud Palestinian who claims (and perhaps rightfully so) that he is one of the best chefs in Miami. According to Ali, his hummus is THE best in the USA and his baba ghanouj ain’t bad either. He has vats of olives of all kinds and hot food made to order. The highlight, though, is his wondrous display of homemade sweets. He has not one, not two, but FIVE varieties of baklava, each of which are mouthwatering and flaky. This is the perfect spot to stock up on apps for your next book club.
5. Italian – Cafe Abbracci
Miami is chock-full of Italian restaurants, but authenticity can still be hard to find. Look no further than Coral Gables. Cafe Abbracci is a step back in time, to those super-Italian restaurants with weird neon lights, deep red decor and hardly any windows. Part seduction, part mafia. (Anyone from NJ knows exactly what I’m talking about.) This interior design can mean only one thing: awesome food and even better service. And with true, born-in-Italy owners, you know you are in good hands. The pasta with clams is some of the best I’ve tasted and the staff, 16 of whom have been with the restaurant since it opened in 1989, are friendly and welcoming.