Summer date nights shouldn’t conform to the four corners of a $39 prix fixe menu; especially when Miami has a plethora of restaurants that serve affordable food– with a complementary side of romance.
Isn’t there nothing more disappointing than taking your date to a “froufrou” steakhouse only to discover you’ll have to choose between chicken or fish. Save the embarrassment and your Amex by trying one of these eateries that are sure to set the mood.
This restaurant offers diners the story-book magic. As you walk through the entrance you time travel in Lewis fashion, to a fictional setting burrowed in Little Haiti. The dining room adorn with coral rock and iron chandeliers and the tables garnished with candles. But the masterpiece is the grotto-esque ambiance.
The patio is nothing short of wonderment. Exotic pools centerpiece the dining area, which is situated underneath the stars and surrounded by a lush backyard. As for libations, Café Roval offers novel wine and beer cocktails that mimic classic beverages. The “Good Old Days” specialty is a must; which is ginger extract, lightly sweetened with agave, bitter lime, cinzano rosso, barrel reduction, topped with six point double IPA and coated with ginger dust. For dinner, the octopus is exceptional, which are tender grilled tentacles that sit upon nduja and fava beans. For those unfamiliar with “Nduja”, it’s an Italian meat spread akin to a chorizo jam. The fatty heat from the nduja juxtaposed to the lean savor of the octopus is off-beaten and marvelous.
This is Little Havana’s hidden gem. The quaint, wood paneled gastrobar is bringing us back to a time where live jazz, a stiff cocktail and a beautiful lady (or man) on your arm were quintessential for a perfect evening out. The neighborhood eatery has a surprising menu filled with unique vittles like duck liver filled deviled eggs, peach honey BBQ pork belly, and lime-salted chicharrones. Sit back with an “Elena’s Old Fashioned,” a Cuban-inspired version of the gentleman’s drink and enjoy the hum of live saxophones and bass. Ask for Aura when you’re there, she’ll sing you a tune while she serves you your meal!
This restaurant is perfect for that first date. The unique location offers a refreshing break from the overzealous monotony and crowded scenery of South Beach. Sherwood's feels like an eclectic garden house filled with unique antiques, and art. There’s even a complimentary cheese station. As you nosh on your gratis parmesan and baguette, peruse their cocktail list and order a Mai Tai. Sherwood’s Mai Tai is a light interpretation of the typically painfully sweet drink. Instead it’s light, tangy and has all the tropical notes you love minus the overly sweet taste you hate. It’s just oh so satisfying with a dehydrated orange on top. To start, grab the 2nd Ave Skillet, a warm dish of burrata with sautéed eggplant, pine chutney and sun dried tomatoes. It is all the coziness that you expect of warm cheese and toasted bread. Next, impress your date by ordering the Bouillabaisse. This hearty dish of cockles and fish has a rich broth that swims around a giant prawn that wows you in both presentation and in flavor.
This restaurant is for that adventurous date when it’s time to spice things up. The Pubbelly Boys are known for their unique fusions and Pubbelly Noodle Bar offers perfect pairings of European and Asian flavors. Start your evening out by ordering a Lucky Cat, a fun, sake infusion served in a ceramic cat. Next, order the Sunchoke carpaccio, a refreshing burrata served upon thinly sliced Sunchoke. It has both a kick-in-the ass heat of sichuan oil and also a cool down with grapefruit flavors. The corn soup agnolotti is whimsical and reminiscent of something out of Harry Potter. The corn stuffed dumplings sit beneath a short rib broth layered with bewitching truffle bubbles. It also serves as the perfect conversation piece when the awkward date babble falls short. The Uni pasta and Shitake Bao buns are also not to be missed.
Now it’s time to hit the Tinder app and fall in love with at least the food in Miami! Happy hunting. Check out these fine establishments on social for drool-worthy food porn and daily specials.