What do you think of when you hear the words "homestyle cooking"? Is it a large plate of collard greens, ribs, and corn on the cob? Do images of your grandmother's matzoh ball soup come to mind? Or do you envision a pot full of arroz y frijoles (rice and beans) cooking alongside some maduros (plantains)? Does homestyle simply mean the comfort of a toasty, grilled cheese sandwich and a hot cup of tomato soup? With Miami being such a multicultural town, it's no wonder our ideas of what a homestyle meal is also vary. That's why we've decided to include restaurants that offer homestyle meals for a variety of tastes.
When it comes to tried and true, American homestyle diner dishes, complete with beef stew, egg salad sandwiches, and meatloaf, the S&S Diner (with a second location in the Gables) is where you want to be. If your version of homestyle evokes memories of grilling burgers in the backyard, Crumb on Parchment might be the place for you. And if your idea of a home-cooked meal involves tostones (fried plantains), congri (mixed rice and beans), or maybe some pan con lechon (pork sandwich), you'll feel right at home at Versailles in Little Havana.
Roasters 'N' Toasters
Founded in 1984 as a simple coffee shop making their own brews with high-end pastries, Roasters and Toasters has evolved to deli straight out of New York. Roasters' n Toasters is everything a New York style deli should be. Their generous portions, fresh deli platters, specialty sandwiches and desserts are without question, the best in town. Stop by one of their locations in Miami Beach, Ventura, or Kendall, or order online and see for yourself why Roasters' n Toasters was voted "Best New York Style Deli" in Miami. ((305) 531-7691)
Whisk is the type of place that keeps its patrons on their toes. Start your meal with the Pulled Pork Sliders (with honey cider slaw, mustard bbq sauce, and house pickles) or the Chicken' Biscuit (fried boneless thigh on a bacon-buttermilk biscuit and a clover honey gastrique...say what?), and you'll quickly realize Whisk is good southern cooking given a gourmet makeover. Their salad options range from broccoli kale caesar to buttermilk fried chicken and organic spinach. Their UN-Traditional B.L.T. (with thick cut pecanwood smoked bacon, hydroponic arugula, tomato, herb buttermilk spread, & sliced avocado) and Grilled NY Strip (with blanched jumbo asparagus, smashed potatoes, demi glace, and crispy shallots) are beyond comprehension. And vegetarians will be enamored by the Grilled Portabella Mushroom Hoagie (baby arugula, roasted roma tomatoes, crispy shallots & goat cheese spread). Complete with daily specials, you'll want to be whisked away here on a regular basis. (7862688350)
Crumb on Parchment
Some say the path to perfection is through simplicity and Crumb on Parchment aims to prove that point beyond a shadow of a doubt. This casual American cafe specializes in breakfast and lunch with deliciously creative soups, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods, all at affordable prices. Among their creations are the Crumb Turkey Sandwich, the Chicken Burger, Feather Light Meatballs, a daily Burrito special which includes different ingredients depending on the day. The main dining area is spacious and the venue also offers serve-yourself coffee, free WiFi for the tech crowd, and plenty of natural Miami sunlight to brighten your morning meal. ((305) 572-9444)
Swine Table & Bar
Here's the piggy, piggy, piggy... At Swine, the guest of honor is the succulent, curly-tailed pig in all its glory: slow-smoked shoulder; swine burger featuring short rib, brisket, and a smoked pork blend; cut with veggies and a roasted pork sauce; as thick-cut house-smoked bacon. There are other foods to choose from at Swine, such as the lacinato kale sandwich, the wood-grilled atlantic swordfish, and those southern favorites like fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, and a killer brunch complete with chicken and waffles, sticky buns, and mimosas. However, these are all only prelude to what you'll surely feel is a palatable plate of porcine perfection. (786-360-6433)
This style-conscious American diner offers upscale interpretations of classic comfort foods, including salads, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and pizzas. The dining room is all imagination and whimsy, with colorful diner decor, an open kitchen and communal tables. The Big Pink TV Dinner is a nostalgic must, served on a six-compartment stainless steel plate. This is not your average Hungry Man dinner! It may include gourmet selections of fried chicken, meatloaf, or teriyaki salmon. Or try the Thanksgiving on a Roll, with turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy on a Kaiser roll at any time of the year. Casual attire. Free delivery. (305-532-4700, 305-531-0888)
The decor may be French, but Versailles's cooking is 100% Cuban. Patrons swoon over deliciously authentic food and the dining room's opulence, complete with candelabras, gilt-framed mirrors and tuxedo-clad waiters. Still, everything's not as upscale as it sounds; the vibe is relaxed and dishes are happily affordable. Ropa vieja, made with zesty shredded beef, is a fine introduction to the bold cuisine, and arroz con pollo may forever change your opinion of chicken and rice.
Keep in mind that the restaurant stays open until very late, until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3:30 and 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights respectively, making it the Jersey diner of Little Havana. Want to know what's going on politically in the exilio community, or maybe just in your Latino teenager's life? Grab a cafe cubano (Cuban coffee), a guava pastellito (guava pastry) and have a seat, then keep both ears open. (305-444-0240)
As the name suggests, Blue Collar doles out good, hearty food for the working class. But don't get confused. This isn't your average greasy spoon. Nothing of the sort. Instead, chef and owner Daniel Serfer aims to serve his patrons home-style cooking that will have them talking for days. We're not just talking macaroni and cheese. We're talking a Mac dish made with Cavatappi pasta and trugole, cheddar, and Parmesan cheese to which you can add bacon or rock shrimp. Serfer isn't just serving you a brisket sandwich. He's introducing you to the "Corben," an experience of braised brisket and Dijon on Portuguese muffin dipped into a an aus jus, accompanied by latkes and apple sauce. With influences from the Caribbean, New Orleans, and your Bubbe's kitchen, Serfer creates dishes like Cuban Sandwich Spring Rolls, year-round Chanukah Latkes, and a Shrimp Po' Boy that somehow tie in perfectly together. ((305) 756-0366)
Named after the eldest daughter of owner Barclay Graebner, this organic-meets-soul food restaurant serves up a marvelous mish-mash of feel-good comfort food, including one of the most unbelievable brunches in Miami. Although the menu does include some less familiar foods, like a Moroccan Style Stew and Beet & Goat Cheese Tacos, it's punctuated by their contemporary twists on true classics like eggs benedict turned Benedict Burger (a meat patty topped with poached egg, ham or spinach, and hollandaise sauce), their Meatloaf with Smoky Mashed Potatoes, and the unbelievably cheesy Voluptuous Grilled Cheese (a gooey concoction of brie, gruyère, and white cheddar). ((305) 573-9678)
Sparky's Roadside Barbecue
Chefs Kevin Kehoe and Hans Seitz know barbecue, and lucky for us, they're sharing it with the locals in Downtown Miami at Sparky's Roadside Barbecue. The pair opened Sparky's in 2010 and have successfully become a lunchtime staple for anyone working in downtown in need of a good pulled pork sandwich between meetings. The hole-in-the-wall joint serves up mouth-watering, St. Louis-style ribs, beef brisket, fried catfish, jerk chicken, and even a veggie burger, alongside corn nuggets, collard greens, hush puppies, coleslaw, and an out-of-this-world macaroni and cheese. Add to that a very nice selection of craft beer and friendly service, and you've got yourself a winner. (205-377-2877)
S & S Diner
Since 1938, locals have doted on this classic diner-style restaurant, where American favorites are served up in hearty portions. Area business people show up often at lunchtime, though it does brisk business at breakfast and dinner as well. This is old-fashioned comfort food that can satisfy any appetite. Try hearty stews, creamed chicken on toast that will take you back to your childhood, and tasty chipped steak with a pile of homemade mashed potatoes. Nothing fancy; just great cooking that your mom might have made if she'd had the time. The diverse crowd and friendly atmosphere add to the experience. Check the blackboard for daily specials. (305-373-4291)
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.
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