Small Bites

 Editor's note: Periodically we will publish capsule reviews like those below in addition to our weekly full reviews. Contributors to this installment include Lee Klein, Pamela Robin Brandt, Greg Baker, Becky Randel, and Karen Figueiredo. More than 430 capsule reviews of local restaurants can be found by clicking on Dining on the navigation bar to the left, scrolling down to the lower right, and searching our Dining Guide.

Chuck Wagon Restaurant, 11230 SW 137 Ave, Miami; 305-386-1555. Open daily 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. In Miami you can get a pan Cubano and café con leche just about anyplace, but an American breakfast requires a bit of a search. So lovers of corned beef hash and biscuits with gravy, rejoice, because Chuck Wagon can satisfy your yearnings for a great morning meal. The menu offers an abundance of choices: eggs with bacon and sausage or Kentucky ham, omelets with cheese or even chili, blueberry pancakes, chocolate chip waffles, and walnut French toast. Can't decide? Order a "Chuck Wagon Grand Slam" -- two eggs, bacon or sausage, home fries or grits, and toast or biscuits with sausage gravy -- for the amazing price of $6.15. If you have a lighter appetite, there are breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, or English muffins. And if you simply can't live without café con leche, don't worry -- Chuck Wagon has that too.

Location Info


Chuck Wagon Restaurant

7628 SW 117th Ave.
Kendale Lakes, FL 33183

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: South Dade

Costamar Restaurant

18250 Collins Ave.
Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160-2727

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: North Dade

IL Mundi

46 Curtiss Parkway
Miami Springs, FL 33166-5219

Category: Restaurant > Latin American

Region: Doral

Macaluso's Italian Cuisine

1747 Alton Road
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: South Beach

Maiko Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar

1255 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: South Beach

Raja's Indian Cuisine

33 N.E. 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33132

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Downtown/Overtown

Costa Mar, 18250 Collins Ave, Sunny Isles; 305-933-5900. Open Monday through Thursday noon to 11:30 p.m, Friday and Saturday noon to 1:00 a.m., Sunday noon to 10:00 p.m. Chef Juan Adames relies on his Spanish roots at this contemporary, cosmopolitan seafood restaurant in Sunny Isles. The dining room is sharply attired in lemon yellow walls, with cool-blue artwork and a small stage for flamenco, karaoke, and live music that wails Thursday through Saturday. The cuisine can be uneven, but you can't go wrong with the codfish croquettes, or a caesar salad prepared tableside. Main course fish dishes include grouper in champagne sauce, seafood in a clay pot, and a filet of snapper in saffron sauce. Costa Mar's signature paellas are okay, but we bet Adames served more stunning versions during his days as personal chef to Venezuela's presidents. Mrs. Adames is the pastry chef; try her meringue-topped dulce de leche.

Front Porch Café, 1418 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach; 305-531-8300. Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Amid the craziness of Ocean Drive, Front Porch Café stands out as an exceptionally civilized place for dining. On the quieter end of the strip, Front Porch is a simple, peaceful café offering an array of delicious fare. Its Sunday brunch is quite possibly among the best on the Beach, and the pancakes are not to be missed. The yogurt/fruit/granola cup is light, wholesome, and tasty (note: This yogurt is real, not the sugar-induced sludge to which we've become accustomed). Coffee is replenished without your having to ask (and rest assured refills here are free, unlike other eateries that shamefully charge). Munching on brunch goodies at a friendly restaurant on the Beach without having people literally walk into your food is a good way to start your Sunday. Lunch here is also great; salads are creative, healthy, and satisfying, and the mashed potatoes are a cult favorite (they melt in your mouth). I highly recommend the hummus -- filling but not too heavy (no risk of a stomachache afterward). The service, though friendly, could he a hair quicker, especially if you sit outside, but then this is South Beach and this is a quiet neighborhood café. The staff is extremely welcoming to children and seems totally unfazed by accidental spills, so feel free to bring the little ones. Whether it's lunch with friends or co-workers, a fun family brunch, or a quick (but tasty) dinner someplace slightly away from it all, Front Porch Café makes the perfect spot.

Il Mundi, 46 Curtiss Pkwy, Miami Springs; 786-337-8885. Open Monday through Friday 2:00 to 10:00 p.m., Saturday 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. With a cozy, tastefully art-laden interior and idyllic outdoor seating (on Miami Springs' wide traffic circle in the rustic downtown retail district), this erstwhile coffee shop had been an inviting spot to cap off an evening with dessert. Minor changes are made to the menu every few weeks, but all of his creations are at worst interesting.

The standard Italian opener known here as "mozzarella caprese" ($5) features vine-ripened tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil along with garlic, basil, and oregano; scallops gratin ($6) are served on the half-shell; and escargots ($6) in garlic butter are sided by a freshly baked baguette. A less common offering is the "Spanish omelet" ($7) with fried garbanzo beans, while our choice of appetizer is the olives, which are roasted with garlic, chorizo, and spices and served with a white cheese. The four salads (all less than $10) are substantial enough to be meals: The "Composition" mixes roasted portobello mushrooms with white asparagus, tomato, artichoke, and shredded cheeses (topped by a phenomenal blueberry dressing); the shrimp caesar consists of romaine hearts and asiago cheese; the spinach is served warm and includes caramelized onions; and there's a prosciutto and goat-cheese offering.

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