5 Affordable & Delicious Restaurants in Miami

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sometimes I travel for relaxation and other times it’s for an adventure, but the one thing that remains a priority on every trip is indulging in some of best local eats.  All of my pre-trip research is not spent searching for the adorned statute of some historic saint riding a dead horse (yes this exists in Prague), it’s spent googling the flavours of donuts I’m going to try at the local bakery hot-spot. I mean, let's be honest, sightseeing is just something to fill the time between meals right? Some might call me excessive when they see my printed out word document list of cafes, breweries, lunch and dinner spots, but I like to call it practical AF. Instead of stumbling upon tourist traps and paying for a bland and overpriced meal, I’ve got my list of affordable and praised eats to keep my belly content while on vacation.

My most recent trip was to Miami, Florida. I spent 5 days on South Beach and took in a lot of beach time, wandering up and down Ocean Drive, shopping on Lincoln Road, browsing the amazing street art in Wynwood, reminiscing about Cuba in Little Havana and of course, eating my way around the city. 

When most people think of South Beach they think of expensive dining, clubs and beautifully tanned models.  But those notions have diminished and you can find a ton of affordable restaurants, low-key bars and lounges and some of the most interesting looking characters I have ever witnessed (the good and bad kind).  

After five days of eating out in Miami, here are my top 5 recommended places for affordable and DELICIOUS food:

1. Juice & Java

If you're looking for fresh and nutritious meals, then this is the place to visit on South Beach. Their small space is the ultimate wellness-haven with beautiful plants situated on the walls and the smell of fresh juice permeating the air.  Everything on the menu is full of nutritious ingredients, with plenty of vegan, gluten-free and low carb options.

The first day I discovered this place was for breakfast.  I had the Kale Loco Juice which was a blend of kale, cucumber, pineapple, ginger and lemon and the organic granola bowl with fresh fruit and yogurt.  My sister had the bagel ring with cream cheese and jam and the mango, papaya & orange smoothie.  All of our items were fresh, satisfying and affordable.  It was nice to eat clean so early in the morning, leaving us feeling energized and ready to take on the 28 degree weather!

I came back to this place at least two more times within my five day trip for more smoothies, snacks and breakfast and will be back again next time in Miami! Juice & Java lives by the adage "you are what you eat" and caters to those who are looking for a healthy meal where taste is never compromised.

Location: 1346 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL

 2. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar caters to everything I want in a dining experience; farm-fresh ingredients, big portions, incredible taste and an inventive take on classic dishes.  The fact that it is Southern cooking also adds mega bonus points.

Restaurant group, 50 Eggs Inc., owns and operates Yardbird and has done an excellent job in staying true to its Southern roots.  The menu consists of classic Southern fare with a creative twist to make you happily say goodbye to your calorie intake for the day. Dishes like Fried Green Tomato BLT, Skillet Cornbread, Mama’s Biscuits, Chicken n Watermelon n Waffles, and Shrimp n Grits are just a few of the stand-out items at Yardbird.  These guys don’t mess around when it comes to portion size either.  The appetizers are like meals and the meals are like, REALLY BIG. Make sure to split some of the main dishes as it's a real feat to finish one on your own.

Not only does the food really shine here, but the hand-crafted cocktails, extensive bourbon selection and whisky are all top-notch as well.  

Chicken & Waffles 

The service also deserves high-praise.  Our server was incredibly friendly and informative, describing each dish that we had inquired about.  The manager of the restaurant also stopped by our table numerous times to chat and to make sure we were enjoying our meal.  This type of service is what brings people back!

If you’re ever in Miami, it would be a sin not to make a stop at Yardbird Southern Table and Bar. Bourbon, blues, and Southern American fare, at an affordable price, in an appealing farmhouse-centric atmosphere is your perfect destination while in Miami. They also do a foot-stompin’, soul-healin’ brunch on the weekends. Be sure to make a reservation!

Location: 1600 Lenox Ave, Miami Beach, FL

3. Versailles

The worlds most famous Cuban restaurant, Versailles, has been serving up tasty Cuban cuisine for decades.  Versailles first opened its doors in 1971 and it quickly became the hub for Miami’s Cuban exiles.  Today, it remains to be ground zero for Cuban political banter, protests, parades and festivities.

The ambience at Versailles is quite casual but very fast-paced.  The capacity here is 350, so you can only imagine the amount of staff and patrons that are packed in here at any given time of the week.  We stopped by at about 2 pm on a Tuesday and there was a line-up to get in.

The menu here is again overwhelming, a bit of a trend here in America. So many food options, and when you’re hungry, everything sounds equally tasty.  We ended up going for Yuca Croquettes, Mixed Salad and Cuban Style Roast Pork.  The service was quick and efficient, and within 10 minutes we were mowing down on some of the most delicious Cuban food.  Sometimes you think ‘bland’ when it comes to Cuban cuisine, but Versailles knows exactly what their doing and how to flavour each dish just enough to make it incredible. 

Versailles has been featured on the Food Network, the Travel Channel, and CNN, and it was named by Time as one of the top ten places to visit in Miami. Ana Quicences from the Food Network even created a Versailles Cookbook that features some of the most beloved dishes from the restaurant.

Location: 3555 Southwest 8th Street, Miami, FL

4. Novecento Brickell

If I lived near Novecento Brickell, this place would be my go-to after work dinner and drink spot.  The patio space is enough to get me here on a gorgeous sunny day, but the food and drink are what really stand out at Novecento.

Novecento takes the old mantra “mi casa es su casa” (my home is your home) to another level. It is an inviting and casual bistro with European style and Latin American influences. You really do feel like home here, it's a place to relax, unwind and enjoy meals cooked with love.

The food here is Argentinian-bistro style, with an extensive brunch, lunch and dinner menu.  Dishes like Ceviche con Tostones, Beef Empanadas, Grilled Skirt Steak, and Salmon a la Parrilla are just a few of the Latin-American style dishes at Novecento.  I was super impressed by the dishes I tried here as everything exceeded my expectations. 

The empanada dough was outstanding and the stew-like beef filling was rich and flavourful.  The ceviche with tostones was perfectly fresh and really hit the spot on a hot day. The shrimp curry was cooked in a coconut red curry sauce with mixed peppers, banana and mango chutney and it was mind-blowing.  I didn’t think an Argentinian-style restaurant would be able to make a mean curry but this was unlike any other red curry I’ve had. The addition of banana gave it a hint of sweetness and that mixed with the red curry spice was perfection.

The restaurant features a lot daily promotions such as wine and dessert on your birthday (with valid ID), 50% off wine on Tuesdays, $11 pasta dishes all day Wednesday, happy hour daily from 4 pm to 7 pm with drink and small bite specials, and much more. 

Novecento Brickell is worth the visit, especially to escape South Beach for a day and enjoy a lively yet laid-back atmosphere with terrific food and drink.

Location:1414 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL

5. The Front Porch Café

This Ocean Drive hot spot is your ideal destination for all-day breakfast. The wait for a table around breakfast time is at least 30 minutes but if you’re on vacation, you have all the time in the world right? We patiently caught some rays as we waited for our names to be called at this happening restaurant.

Even though breakfast is their most popular time, The Front Porch Café also serves up lunch, dinner and a number of happy hour specials. They have indoor and outdoor seating which is nice, with outdoor being the ideal option.  The breakfast menu was quite big, with everything from omelettes, eggs benedict, scrambles, yogurts, cereals and more. The prices are great for Ocean Drive dining and there is definitely something for everyone on the menu.

Since I don’t eat eggs (shocker I know) I went with the granola bowl with fresh strawberries and banana and my sister went for the beach breakfast burrito (3 scrambled eggs with pepper jack cheese, scallions, and mushroom wrapped in a flour tortilla served with salsa, sour cream and choice of fruit or potatoes). Everything was quite tasty and the portion sizes were big.  Some of the most popular items are the Sicilian omelette and the French toast, which everyone else seemed to order.

The Front Porch Café is a no frills spot for a hearty and affordable breakfast right in the heart of South Beach.

Location: 1458 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL
Site: http://www.frontporchoceandrive.com/

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