Ultra Music Festival 2011: Ten Cheap Eats Within Walking Distance

Categories: Cheap Eats
ultra2010crowd.jpg
That's a lot of hungry people.
If you're a local going to Ultra Music Festival this weekend, you'll already have your own strategy to stay fueled before and after the electronic music marathon. But if you're not from South Florida -- or hell, not even from central Miami-Dade -- the area of downtown Miami surrounding the festival's venue, Bicentennial Park, can seem like a confusing wasteland.

But if you would rather avoid the overpriced carnival food inside, it is possible to have a decent, inexpensive meal within a healthy person's walking distance from the fest. Here, from closest to farthest, are ten no-frills, serviceable restaurants within about a 20-minute walk from Ultra that'll get you in and out for a couple of Lincolns -- or even less.

Elwoods Gastro Pub
188 NE 3rd Ave., 305-358-5222
Hours open during Ultra: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Distance from Bicentennial Park: 0.6 miles
elwoodsmiami.com
This new gastro-pub's location on a particular desolate street might be inexplicable -- or at least overly optimistic -- but it's one of the classiest choices in the area for a full-service, sit-down meal. Though the menu of pub fare, sandwiches, and salads is simple, everything is homemade, from the ketchup to the ice cream. If you're really rushed on your way to the festival Friday, there's a small selection of entrées that are promised to be ready within 10 minutes!

Raja's Indian Cuisine
33 NE 2nd Ave., 305-539-9551
Hours open during Ultra: Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Walking distance from Bicentennial Park: 0.7 miles
rajasindianrestaurant.com
Is this the brightest, most sparkling establishment? Maybe not, but a recent cleanup and paint job have refreshed this hidden downtown lunch spot that offers a limited selection of Indian standards for dirt-cheap prices (an average full plate with sides rings up to about $7). This is a particularly vegetarian-friendly option as well.

La Licuadora
47 NE 2nd Ave., 305-379-0000
Hours open during Ultra: Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Distance from Bicentennial Park: 0.7 miles
licuadorarestaurant.com
This Peruvian restaurant specializes in juicy rotisserie chicken, which appears in a number of variations with sides, with virtually all full plates costing less than $10. There's a full seafood menu as well, and as a bonus, this place opens for breakfast early enough that you could hit it on your way home from an afterparty.

Manolo & Rene Cafeteria
281 NE 1st St., 305-358-4488
Hours open during Ultra: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday noon to midnight
Walking distance from Bicentennial Park: 0.7 miles
This is one of the better-regarded ventanita-style Cuban cafeterias in the area, and to boot it's among those open the latest, until midnight every night. You'll find the usual cheap, healthy-size sandwiches and snacks here, as well as turbo-charged coffee.

Lula's Eatery
120 SE 3rd Ave., 305-358-7988
Hours open during Ultra: Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Walking distance from Bicentennial Park: 0.8 miles
lulaseatery.com
This casual spot advertises itself as "pop food fusion," which means a grab bag of favorites such as burritos, subs, cheesesteaks, and filling mashed potato bowls. If you're looking for something lighter, soups and salads abound too. Portions are generous, and the most expensive menu items top out at about $7.

Giardino Gourmet Salads
169 E. Flagler St., 305-358-0167
Hours open during Ultra: Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday noon to 4 p.m.
Walking distance from Bicentennial Park: 0.8 miles

giardinosalads.com/bio_downtown.html
Let's be real: You're not necessarily going to a huge music festival to be superhealthy. You're going to encounter some bodily pollution, at least second-hand from somebody else. Offset it a little with a heaping salad from the downtown location of this local franchise.

The Filling Station
95 SE 2nd St., 786-425-1990
Hours open during Ultra: Friday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday noon to 10 p.m.
Walking distance from Bicentennial Park: 0.9 miles
thefillingstationmiami.com
Ultra festivalgoers are particularly in luck with the Filling Station, because the only days it stays open past 3 p.m. are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. This vaguely roadhouse-style, true-blue independent spot serves delicious, hearty twists on specialty burgers and other calorically adventurous dishes such as fried pickles. There's also a good, cheap selection of beer.

Halfmoon Empanadas
192 SE 1st Ave., 305-379-2525
Hours open during Ultra: Friday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Walking distance from Bicentennial Park: 0.9 miles
halfmoonempanadas.com
It's no surprise what this place sells: empanadas, and lots of 'em, in different filling and side sauce variations and all ready in less than ten minutes. For meat-eaters, there are the typical beef and chicken choices, as well as more fanciful, fusion-type offerings, and vegetarians have a handful of options too.

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill
7 W. Flagler St., 305-789-9252
Hours open during Ultra: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Walking distance from Bicentennial Park: 1 mile
limefreshmexicangrill.com/#lime-locations-3d0a69
This rapidly expanding, locally born chain offers the kind of relatively upscale, gringo-friendly Tex-Mex favorites you know and love from similar fast-casual eateries. It's worth noting, though, that their meat is certified humanely raised and handled, and that vegetarian and diet-friendly options abound.

Cacique's Corner
112 W. Flagler St., 305-372-3323
Hours open during Ultra: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Walking distance from Bicentennial Park: 1.1 miles
If you're planning to travel by public transportation, and your journey involves the Metrorail, this is particularly convenient -- it's right across the street from the Government Center station. The food here is standard Cuban luncheonette fare, with meaty sandwiches and dirt-cheap breakfasts among the best bets. Like La Licuadora, Cacique's Corner opens early for breakfast, so again, you can hit it on your way home.

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