Midtown Is Miami's Best Dining Neighborhood

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Coming to midtown...
​As Waylon Jennings might have put it, we were looking for Miami's up-and-coming dining scene in all the wrong places. Like, for instance, the Design District. When Michael's Genuine Food & Drink took off, followed by Fratelli Lyon, Michelle Bernstein's Sra. Martinez, and Jonathan Eismann's mini-empire, it appeared that the neighborhood that everyone had long been predicting to be the next big thing, was finally the next big thing. Except things didn't work out quite so big, and although the M & M chefs still provide strong draws, a vibrant dining scene still hasn't developed there. To put it another way: Vino e Olio and Mai Tardi are no Sugarcane and Sustain.

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Lee Klein
...also coming to midtown...
​We next turned our attention to the Upper East Side, where Casa Toscana had long held fort, where Bernstein's Michy's moved in and became a popular pioneer for the renaissance, followed by Kris Wessel's Red Light Little River and most recently Michael Bloise' American Noodle Bar. There are solid midrange alternatives in the area as well, like UVA 69, Moshi Moshi, Anise, and Balans -- and a hot dog place too (Dogma). But it's still not the sort of neighborhood where one ambles along the streets after dinner and chooses an outdoor cafe at which to sip cappuccino. If anything, after dinner you rush to your car to make sure it hasn't been broken into. 

South Beach? Coconut Grove? Coral Gables? You're kidding, right?

In the meanwhile, midtown Miami has grown from empty condos, a struggling shopping mall, and Five Guys, to house the best restaurants to open in the city over the past two years.


Five Guys was a eye-catching addition, but foodies started really flocking to midtown when Sakaya Kitchen opened in 2009. Since then, it's been a rapid succession of hip joints jumping with patrons and putting out affordable, often exceptional food: Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, Mercadito, Gigi, Sustain...

(The Morgan's Restaurant is considered Wynwood, but it's really just a few blocks from midtown.)

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Lee Klein
Muscle Maker Grill compares its menu to others.
​Midtown boasts the only real cheese store, and a cool restaurant in its own right, The Cheese Course. Lime Fresh Mexican Grill and Hurricane Grill and Wings are better-than-average chains, Primo Pizza makes real good pies. Egyptian Pizza just opened (how timely!) to give Primo a run for its' mozzarella (Egyptian Pizza uses a wood-burning oven). 

100 Montaditos debuted last week -- Serrano ham sandwich (and 99 others) on warm, fresh bread for a buck and bottled/draft beers for under $3. Looking for a more upscale sip? The Wine Vault will be ready for the public in a matter of weeks. So will Sweet Point Bakery & Cafe and Muscle Maker Grill ("Great food with your health in mind!").

It's true: Midtown has more new excellent restaurants, and offers more variety, than any other neighborhood in Miami-Dade right now. Who'd have thunk it?

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17 comments
Lowginjay
Lowginjay

The food and service at Hurricane are terrible

Biddlesticks
Biddlesticks

Lower rents + less cheesy tourists = every decent restaurant will move off the beach in 5 years.

mambrumiami
mambrumiami

What is Midtown? A NY transplant phrase. Stop it, you're killing me !!!!

Chocovine is not a good idea
Chocovine is not a good idea

Sugarcane is old news. It will probably close in 2 years due to lack of management. Other than Sustain, there is nothing even edible in Midtown. And you missed the boat on Vino e Olio. (Take a trip to Tuscany and you will appreciate the restaurant.) Until then keep enjoying Five Guys and living up to the American stereotype. I mean you are the one who said "Chocovine" is a good idea.

FeedMyBelly
FeedMyBelly

A few issues.

-Many of the Midtown restaurants have only been open a month or two and really need to prove they'll weather the storm and stay open.

-There is likely more crime on restaurant goers/tourists in the Design District (and surrounding sketchiness) then there is in the Upper Eastside. The Upper Eastside has the railroad tracks/fences/warehouses making a nice border to keep Little Haiti/the hood to the west, The Design District has no such obstacle, trouble just needs to cross North Miami Ave.

-The Upper Eastside also includes the entire Soyka complex (including the best pizza in town) and something the other two areas mentioned don't have-Dunkin Donuts coffee! And for shame for not mentioning Jimmys Diner.

-The Design District should include the Buena Vista restaurants (Bistro, Lemoni, Mandolin, etc) as well, they are as close to Sra Martinez/Fratelli Lyon as many of the Midtown restaurants are to each other.

-Regarding Morgans being only "just a few blocks from midtown", Michaels Genuine is literally closer to Five Guys/Sakaya Kitchen/etc than Morgans is. The lines are blurry, you may even want to include Lost & Found in with Midtown.

Anyway, midtown and the design district are close enough to each other (and the upper eastside is a short drive/taxi), so it's pointless to pit them against each other in a contest.

anon1
anon1

oy vey. sweet point bakery's logo looks like a republican elephant. not sweet.

Lee
Lee

You think I said that Chocovine is a good idea? Looks like your reading skills rank right there with your food tastes.Also -- I'd love to return to Tuscany, but I used up all the airfare on one of Vino e Olio's entrees.

Lee
Lee

No dummy, I mean "Who'd have thunk it?" BEFORE it happened.

Robertomoreno
Robertomoreno

Mr Klein thank you for responding,I am a bit confused by your reply however. You do agree with me that Mercadito is nothing special as you write in your reply. However you write in the above article that " often exceptional food: Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, Mercadito, Gigi, Sustain..."So that is why i am questioning... which is it? None of the restaurant you mention really offer any good food Mr Klein. I have not tried vinoeolio yet but I am curious to do so after what you wrote. It is impossible that you could not find anything good about the place,since others have written good things about it.As far as the the best dining areas in Miami, I think time will tell. There is too much fractioning yet. Too many new places have opened up recently and they still need time to grow and establish themselves. I agree with you and your other readers that the DD/Mitown/Wynwood area will be the one to look for. That is after all why I bought my condo in Midtown.thank youRoberto

Robertromoreno
Robertromoreno

Mr Lee good morning, My name is Roberto Moreno and I live in RIo de Janeiro. Because of my work I travel often to Miami adn I have a condo unit in Midtowm.I have followed your reviews and blogs for some time. I must however say that your glorification of places like Sugarcane and Mercadito are at best dubious. The food in those restaurants is average on good days. There is nothing new in their menu, the service is horrible. What is it you find in those places that makes you glorify them every time you write about them? I eat on my last trip at Sustain. we were 3 people, two appetizers, three entrees of very very bland food, which I do not even remember and the bill was 75$ per person. I see you wrote that you lost all your money on vinoeolio entrees. I have not eaten in that establishment but a quick look at their web site shows that entrees prices are online with those from Sustain, a restaurant you have written offers "often exceptional food: Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, Mercadito, Gigi, Sustain..." I am disappointed that you write such things, and I have to question your motives. The restaurants you mentioned as offering exceptional food are very regular places. Perhaps I would like to invite you on a gastronomical tour of europe, my guest of course since you say you have no money.., to have you taste some restaurants that do offer "exceptional food".In short Mr Kein, I know you are a well cultured person, but I have seriously question your ridiculous bias for certain restaurants in the Design District and Midtown.I welcome your commentsRegardsRoberto

Frodnesor
Frodnesor

All right, go back 3 years earlier:http://chowhound.chow.com/topi...

I'd agree that borders between DD / Midtown / UES are sometimes fuzzy (as other comments here show), but regardless, the area as a whole is clearly now the center for the best eating in South Florida - which is a huge shift from 10 or maybe even 5 years ago when it was either South Beach or Coral Gables. It's funny to recall that the centerpiece of the Midtown Miami development, restaurant-wise, was supposed to be a gigantic Brasserie d'Azur that never even went in.

FatBoy
FatBoy

Ha @ the non-paid blogger fighting with the paid writer.

Frodnesor's link shows how muddy the definition of the mid-Miami neighborhoods are. These were all answers:"Midtown/Wynwood""MiMo/Upper Eastside/Biscayne Corridor""Midtown/Design District/Buena Vista East""Midtown/Design District"

And Eleanor Hoh is a dummy for writing Surfside.

Robertomoreno
Robertomoreno

Mr Klein thank you for responding,I am a bit confused by your reply however. You do agree with me that Mercadito is nothing special as you write in your reply. However you write in the above article that " often exceptional food: Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, Mercadito, Gigi, Sustain..."So that is why i am questioning... which is it? None of the restaurant you mention really offer any good food Mr Klein. I have not tried vinoeolio yet but I am curious to do so after what you wrote. It is impossible that you could not find anything good about the place,since others have written good things about it.As far as the the best dining areas in Miami, I think time will tell. There is too much fractioning yet. Too many new places have opened up recently and they still need time to grow and establish themselves. I agree with you and your other readers that the DD/Mitown/Wynwood area will be the one to look for. That is after all why I bought my condo in Midtown.thank youRoberto

Lee
Lee

Roberto,I am not comparing midtown restaurants with those of Europe, or even of other American cities. I agree with you about Mercadito not being exceptional, and Gigi is too inexpensive to compare with vineo and the like. But since you are questioning my bias for this neighborhood, just wondering what you think would be the best dining area in Miami.

Lee
Lee

I don't see the word Midtown mentioned on the referenced Chowhound post, but we can leave it that we agree on the neighborhood being a great place to dine.

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