During Hurricane Matthew my girlfriend and I were sitting on a beach in Miami. Lucky enough for us the hurricane past Miami and didn’t effect our trip to go see University of Miami against Florida State University football game. A game that she has not missed since attending UM and a storm wasn’t about to stop her, thankfully we didn’t have to deal with any of it.
Whenever we go to Miami we have a few places that we have to go to, and a few new places to try. Naturally our trips are centered around food, with dash of site seeing thrown in there. Here is a list of some of the spots that we frequent whenever we visit Florida. I hope you enjoy and have the opportunity to try some of these places.
3555 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
Sun-Mon 8am-1am, Fri 8am-2:30am, Sat 8am-3:30am
A Miami staple since 1971, Versailles serves classic fare and taste of the Cuban experience. It was the first place that we visited after getting off the plane at Miami airport and because of its late night hours the place we went for a late dinner after the Football game. The cafe that I am sure has gotten plenty of publicity in movies and the news, was in my favorite movie Chef starting John Favreau. In the movie you see Chef Carl Casper with his family at Versailles late one night eating a cubano sandwich with yucca fries. The experience reminded him of his love for good food and that he needed to go on his own and open a food truck.
When we first went to the Cafe portion of the restaurant for lunch we got a collection of classic cuban food: chicken and ham croquettes, a chicken empanada, cubano, and two coladas.
A croquette (or croqueta) is a small breadcrumbed fried roll containing mashed potatoes, ground meat, poultry or fish, cheese, vegetables bechamel or brown sauce. A classic Cuban sandwich or cubano is a variation of a ham and cheese sandwich that originated in cafes catering to Cuban workers in Key West and Ybor City, and then migrated to Miami. It is a sandwich that consists of ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles, mustard on cuban bread. It is perfectly pressed in a sandwich press until the cheese melts and the exterior of the bread and golden brown and crispy. As for the Cuban Colada, it is 3-6 shots of cuban espresso that is sweetened with demerara sugar while its being brewed. It is served in a styrofoam cup along with small plastic cups that is meant to share socially. It is something that i have to have multiple of while in Miami, lets just say i was highly caffeinated during our trip.
For our dinner at Versailles my girlfriend enjoyed Paella Valenciana which is a classic Spanish dish consisting of lobster, shrimps, clams, mussels, squids, fish and chicken. It is cooked with rice and saffron. It was served with a side of fried sweet plantains. For my main coarse i ordered Roast Pork Cuban Style which consists of pork marinated with Cuban Mojo and slow oven roasted. It is served with moros rice and boiled yuca with mojo. The pork reminded me of the Pork Candy form Bazaar Meats, but a lot cheaper. The pork was so flavorful from the marinade and the skin caramelized and cracked like the burnt sugar on a creme brûlée. Delicious!
A place that we have gone to every time that we are in Miami is Hillstone. It’s a place that my girlfriend worked at while in college, and ever since then has had an addiction for most of the items on their menu and i don’t blame her. Hillstone restaurant group originated in Nashville,TN. Hillstone now operates under 15 different names in 14 states. Our favorite location still has to be the one Coral Gables, Florida.
201 Miracle Mile Coral Gables, Florida 33134
Sun-Mon 11:30-10pm, Tues-Thur 11:30-11pm, Fri 11:30-12am, Sat 11:30-11pm
This location has been an essectial stop for locals for 15 years. The menu boasts a wide variety from handcrafted sushi, thai chicken salad, prime rib, Hawaiian bbq ribs and their delectable tres leches with fresh fruit. Be prepared for a long wait at this Hillstone location, any time we’ve been there it has been packed. MAKE A RESERVATION! Hillstone is a restaurant that doesn’t cut any corners, they do everything very well.
To begin our meal we ordered one of our favorite dishes the Chicago-Style Spinach & Artichoke Dip, which is served with warm tortilla chips, sour cream and fresh salsa. So cheesy and delicious, the true example of comfort food. Never had a better spinach and artichoke dip.
We also split an order of Thai Tuna Roll and Coconut Shrimp Rolls. Both rolls wrapped in soy paper. I loved the toasted coconut batter that the shrimp were fried in.
One of my girlfriends all time favorite dishes at Hillstone is the Jumbo Lump Crab cakes. The crab cakes are loaded with blue crab and not much filler, the way a crab cake should be. It is served with a side of pommery mustard, hand cut fries and coleslaw.
One of their nighlty specials is their Mustard BBQ Ribs served with handcut fries and coleslaw. The spicy mustard bbq sauce balances out the fatty fall of the bone pork ribs.
Another special was the Prime Rib with a choice of side; i always get the loaded baked potato. Without a doubt i have not found a better prime rib dish. The prime rib has a perfectly caramelized and peppery exterior and a melt in your mouth interior. The saying “cuts like butter” does not give this dish justice. It is served with a side of jus and creamy horseradish to order.
You can also order their prime rib in a sandwich form with their Famous Prime Rib French Dip. A dish that Chef Davide Chang (of Momofuku and the tv program Mind of a Chef) says “haunts him” because it is so good. It is sliced thin served on a house made buttery toasted french loaf that reminded me of the crust of some of the best New York Pizza. It is also served with a side of hand cut french fries, jus and creamy horseradish.
The famous and absolutely desirable Tres Leches cake served with fresh sliced fruit and whipped cream. The perfectly thick cut piece of cake soaked in milk, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk, topped with whipped cream and served with sliced bananas, strawberries and blueberries.
Last but not least the warm and rich Brownie Sundae topped with toasted walnuts, vanilla ice cream, chocolate and caramel sauce.
3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL 33149
Sun-Thur 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11am-12am
Offering contemporary American fare made from the freshest local seafood with beautiful waterfront views. Like Hillstones, the Rusty Pelican has been a traditional restaurant that my girlfriend and i have been going to every time while in Miami. The views from their outdoor seating are some of the best of Miami. Whether during the day like our brunch or at night during our past dinners the views of the Miami skyline are second to none. The brunch and dinner menus boast a wide variety of fresh local seafood made with different preparations such as sushi, tartar, seafood tower, grilled, poached, and pan fried. All of their food is done with such respect of the ingredients. Beautiful views, great attentive staff, fresh and creative food make this a prime location that needs to be visited while in Miami.
From their “Brunch” Type of Things menu:
Maine Lobster Benedict
Jalapeno cheddar corn bread, 1 lb lobster, poached organic eggs and crispy shallots
Crab Huevos Rancheros
Pinto bean and jalapeno puree, organic tomato salsa, blue corn tortilla, cotija cheese and eggs any style
Hazelnut Chocolate Ricotta Pancakes
Golden dusted chocolate ricotta pancakes, mint whip cream, blackberry molasses syrup, strawberry sand
Pork Belly Waffle Sandwich
Savory Chive Waffle, Niman Ranch Pork Belly, Sundried Tomato, Baby Arugula, Maple Mustard Sauce
Crusted French Toast
Almond Butter Banana Stuffed French Toast, Coated with Frosted Flakes, Salted Caramel, Cinnamon Whip Cream
1 lb Lobster, Parmesano Reggiano Omelette, Asparagus Ribbons, Day Boat Scallops & Port Bechamel
Oh yeah and the reason we went to Miami, besides seeing our friends was to go to the University of Miami vs. Florida State football game. One of the best rivalries in college football, these two top ranked teams duked it out. Sadly Miami lost 20-19 after a missed field goal attempt. Although it sucked to see Miami lose it was pretty exciting to see the Miami Dolphins stadium, which is also home to the Hurricanes, completely packed with fans of both teams. Towards the end of the game the energy in the stadium was pretty electrifying.
Like always we jam pack a lot of food and activities into a short amount of time. Hopefully some of our next adventures in food will be more than a weekend. But here is to great food and and even better company. I hope you all go get to travel somewhere new and try so great food!