Get the Best Bang for Your Buck at These Miami Restaurants
By Priscilla Blossom
Miami Local Expert
Trying to pin down words like frugal, value, and deal can be exasperating because different people have different ideas of cost savings. Some might be happy paying $30 for a hefty plate of pasta on Miami Beach while others don't consider any meal a true value unless it's in the $5 or less in Little Havana. For 10Best, the definition of value is somewhere in the middle. Here, we include impossibly cheap, cash-only eateries as well as fine-dining establishments that include things like a an excellent happy hour or no corkage fee.
If you're looking for Best Value restaurants in Miami, let us introduce you to a few of our favorites, starting with a long-time favorite for locals - El Palacio de los Jugos. Palacio, whose full name translates to the palace of juice, began as a single Cuban juice joint where expats and the like could enjoy some guarapo (sugarcane juice) or a batido de trigo (puffed wheat milkshake) These tasty treats are low in cost and high in appeal. These days, there are several Palacios and they all offer a ready-prepped food section with options like pan con bistec (steak sandwich on Cuban bread), tamales, and more.
For something a bit more high-end but still aces on value, there's OTC Restaurant in Brickell, where you can get one of the most phenomenal burgers in town normally for just $5 on the right night, plus $5 appetizers like frito pie and thai chicken wings, and $3.5 craft beers during happy hour.
OTC Restaurant Brickell
An acronym for over-the-counter, OTC is a local favorite for small plates of imaginative American cuisine and a great selection of craft beer. The deceptively casual restaurant caters to laid-back clientele who also happen to enjoy excellent food and drink. Executive chef Jacob Anaya, late of Azul, draws on his Native American and Mexican heritage, his international travels, and his significant work experience in California and Hawaii to create high-quality fare that's enjoyed by patrons in a social, sharing environment. Dishes include Thai Style Wings (braised chicken wings tossed in a Thai-chili sauce served with papa ray-cabbage slaw); Craft Beer Fish 'n Chips (beer-battered cod, hand cut fries, curry tartar sauce); and Hong Kong Duck 'n Waffles during brunch. ((305) 374-4612)
Daily Bread Marketplace
Middle Eastern restaurants are few and far between in Miami, but Daily Bread offers a delectable array of tabouli, baba ghanoush, falafel, hummus, and lamb or beef kebabs, all served with generous portions of fresh pita bread. Daily Bread is a marketplace first and foremost but that doesn't take away from the quality of their prepared meals, which you're sure to love. Daily specials may include lamb and cauliflower with preserved lemon, and gourmet sandwiches and salads satisfy on-the-go patrons. Quick service and wallet-friendly prices also please, and the baklava is widely regarded as some of the best in town. (305-856-5893)
Accomplished Thai cookery and authentic decor reel in diners at this neighborhood favorite, located in the Snapper Creek area of east Kendall. Winner of multiple Zagat awards and 2013's best Thai Restaurant in the Miami New Times, Siam Palace's reputation precedes itself. But due to its location and modest exterior, it isn't the type of place with a huge line out the door--and that's a good thing. Many dishes, particularly curries, pack a potent kick, but less adventurous diners are pleased to find more subtle flavors as well. Popular choices include seafood, vegetable spring rolls, basil chicken and a classic pad Thai. Coconut ice cream caps it all on a delicately sweet note, and prices are decidedly un-Miami. (305-279-6906)
A hard-to-find location and unassuming exterior shouldn't dissuade you from searching out this romantic, top of the line Argentinean grill. An Italian influence colors appetizers and second-course pastas, but you'll also find South American surprises like grilled sweetbreads. Not surprising since Italians have often made Argentina their second home. However, bear in mind that you'll need to save room for what follows as this hidden gem of a steak house. Grilled beef, chicken, pork, goat and lamb; marinated, dry-rubbed or simply roasted over the coals; a true delight for all meat-lovers, especially when given a flavor-punch of chimichurri. Vegetarians may find some solace in their limited meat-free dishes and sides. Vegans may need to look elsewhere. (305-225-0008, 305-223-4933)
Hiro's Yakko San
Hiro's is a bit off the beaten path (North Miami Beach--which, by the way, is not ON the beach), making it the perfect place for delicious food at great prices without the hassle of long waits. Standout Japanese cuisine makes this kitchen a favorite with folks who appreciate some of Japan's lesser-known delicacies, from panko-crusted oysters to kim chee hot pots to chrysanthemum tempura. Order several of their small plates (with sake, of course) and ask local diners to recommend their favorites. The late (3 a.m.) closing time makes this Dixie Highway dive a favorite of night owls on the quest for inventive eats. (305-947-0064)
This cash-only fish joint has been a staple in the Little Havana neighborhood for almost 50 years. Originally known as the Garcia Brothers Seafood Market, the venture was a labor of love, created by the exiled Garcia family, who left their native Cuba shortly after Castro took power. The family had already been in the fishing business back home so it was a logical move for them to open the market. By 1976, the Garcias decided to begin serving fresh-cause-and-cooked seafood at their market, and it quickly became known as "Los Paraditos", a place where locals could enjoy fish-fry while standing at the market's window. These days, La Camaronera has expanded and become a full-fledged, sit-down restaurant where patrons can enjoy specialties like camarones fritos (fried shrimp), filete de pescado (fish filet), shrimp tacos, conch fritters, and a tres leches for dessert.
This style-conscious American diner offers upscale interpretations of classic comfort foods, and breakfast is served all day long for those with less than traditional working hours. The dining room is all imagination and whimsy, with colorful diner decor, an open kitchen and communal tables. Try the hot malted waffles or the filling and tasty Big Pink breakfast burrito -- both are as popular in the evening as they are in the morning, or enjoy the Sweet Corn Tortilla Omelette for an extra special treat. Sit at a nostalgic booth in the industrial-style dining room or enjoy an outside table facing busy Collins Avenue. (305-532-4700, 305-531-0888)
Sakaya, an innovative Asian fusion restaurant, has taken the city by storm with its creative interpretations of traditional Asian dishes. The moment they walk through the door, guests are greeted by the expansive menu, an entire chalkboard wall dedicated to sporting daily specials and menu items. Don't be afraid to ask the staff for help navigating the boundless choices. They're happy to suggest local favorites like Dai-Ji spicy tenderloin or Korean chicken and waffles. For other options, check out the "Dim Ssam a gogo," Sakaya's food truck, during a rally at Johnson & Wales or at a spot around town. There's also another location in downtown. (305-576-8096)
Bask in the sun and scope out the foot traffic as you lounge al fresco at casual, affordable Spris, located in the chic Lincoln Road Mall. Impossibly thin-crusted pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven are the draw, topped with broccoli, capers, marinated eggplant, calamari, artichoke hearts, prosciutto, mozzarella and sausage, among other mouth-watering add-ons. Their calzones and paninis are reliably hearty as well. Although creative salads appeal to vigilant figure-watchers (and include inspired combinations like the Dello Chef with romaine, tomatoes, shrimp, corn, avocado, pink sauce), their tiramisu alone is worthy of a little diet digression. Spris is also known to have one killer happy hour, so make sure to check it out. (305-673-2020)
El Palacio De Los Jugos
Since opening in 1977, El Palacio De Los Jugos has embodied Latin American Miami in its most authentic form. It's not fancy, doesn't have a dress code, and everyone is welcome--so long as they enjoy delicious food and won't ask for a copy of their "nutrition facts". The name of this popular eatery translates to "the juice palace" as it serves freshly made, exotic juices in mass volumes. El Palacio also cooks home-style Latin fare; generous, juicy pork sandwiches and classic Cuban rice and bean variations fill the outdoor air with enticing aromas. After ordering, purchase tropical produce or sip cooling coconut water, chopped on-site by a man with his machete. ((786) 523-3325)
About Priscilla Blossom
Pris Blossom is a freelance writer and feminist mama with a love for travel, writing, music, film, craft beer, yoga, museums, cultural anthropology, and her awesome kid.
She spent the bulk of the past decade taking trips on a whim, falling in love with and in such places as New York City, New Orleans, and a large portion of Nicaragua.
In 2011, she took off on her own and traveled around the U.S. via bus, bunking with strangers thanks to the power of CouchSurfing. She is currently writing a novel about this.
Read her words at PrisBlossom.com.
Read more about Priscilla Blossom here.