One of the most important aspects of exploring a new city is finding great places to eat. Being in Miami, we wanted to find a good Cuban restaurant somewhere in the downtown area. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, we asked a local where we could find a good Cuban place in the area and she pointed us to Perricone’s Market and Cafe. OK, well it turned out to be Italian, not Cuban, but based on the long line of lunchtime locals coming out the front door, this place had to be pretty good. We were hungry, so we decided to give it a try; really glad we did.
Perricone’s has been around for about ten years and has the reputation as the best Italian in Miami. The line getting in was long, but still didn’t require a long wait. It gave us some time to wander around their market area admiring the meats, cheeses, and glorious mountains of gelato. For lunch, I had the penne with salmon nuggets; Valerie tried their gnocchi. The salmon was cooked to perfection and the gnocchi melted in your mouth. We topped-off our meal with a scoop of that wonderfully displayed gelato we saw in the market. You would think that as popular as this place is, it would be on the expensive side; prices are actually quite reasonable. We were fortunate to be there on “Pasta Thursday” when all pasta dishes are only $10. So, we didn’t get our Cuban lunch as we’d hoped, but Perricone’s for a fine Italian meal worked just fine.
The next day, the family was in town which meant we now had a car; this gave us greater access to dining that can’t be easily reached by public transit. After the graduation ceremonies at University of Miami, the honored graduate chose Lulu’s in Coconut Grove as the place for the post-commencement celebration. This is a funky, sidewalk cafe that you could describe as a high-end bar and grill. Great food in massive portions along with great people watching make this restaurant a great local experience. You must try the jalapeno mashed potatoes! I could have eaten a bucket of these and been quite happy. The prices are reasonable, but keep a careful eye on your bar tab; one pitcher of Mojitos cost $40 (ouch!).
Our final dining experience in Miami required us to find the best barbecue in town. On our third day in the city, we drove to the western suburb of Homestead for what I found to be some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had. Shriver’s BBQ is a family run restaurant that’s been serving hickory-smoked barbecue for 50 years. It’s a very informal atmosphere where you sit on picnic benches with other patrons just like you’re at a barbecue in your neighbor’s back yard. Along with the great barbecue, you get your choice of wonderful side dishes; my favorite was the sweet potato souffle. I suspect the collard greens are also pretty good as the guy sitting next to me had two big servings. The service was excellent and it was fun just sitting around with people who were obviously locals who have been coming here for years.
Well, somehow we managed to spend three days in Miami and never had a bite of Cuban cuisine. Oh well, I found nothing to complain about with the great dining experience we had during this short visit. Next time in Miami, it’s going to be all Cuban!