Three and a Half off 441

Indie Indies offer bang for the buck

The beer list is curiously priced: Coors is $1.95, Budweiser and Bud Light are $1.99. (I can only assume the extra four cents is for the brown tinting on the bottle.) Imports such as Red Stripe, Beck's, Heineken, and Guinness Stout are $2.50 — and so is Miller High Life, which I know claims to be "the champagne of bottled beer," but still.

Cliff, who is from Jamaica, has been running his restaurant since 1986. He and his congenial staff have also been providing catering services for weddings and all sorts of occasions during this time, and come weekend evenings they throw a pretty good party of their own — replete with giant speakers gushing island music and revelers spilling out into an adjoining lot.

A few lots farther down, just across 107th Street, sits the ultimate uni-function space: a wooden concession shack painted sky blue, with the word conch brushed across the top in white. Inside the booth stands the entrepreneur and chef, a cordial man of Bahamian heritage named Darrell. He opened the stand this past August and serves but two items: conch fritters and conch salad.

JOE ROCCO

Location Info

Map

Cliff's Restaurant

10740 NW 7th Ave.
North Miami, FL 33161

Category: Restaurant > Caribbean

Region: Upper Eastside/Miami Shores/Biscayne Park

Details

Cliff's Restaurant, 10740 NW 7th Ave, North Miami; 305-754-2679. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Wednesday 9:00 a.m. to midnight, Thursday through Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.

LCs Roti Shop, 19505 NW 2nd Ave, North Miami; 305-651-8924. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Closed Sunday.

The Patty Place, 19547 NW 2nd Ave, North Miami; 305-652-1787. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Closed Sunday.

I've consumed a fair share of fritters over the years, but these are genuinely unique. For $2 you get a golden brown patty that looks like a sizable potato pancake, possessing a crystalline crust and a wet, white, fluffy interior reminiscent, strangely, of Belgian waffle batter. It didn't pack much of a conch punch, but this is a fantastic fritter nonetheless. The salad wasn't exactly brimming with conch either, but the pieces within were tenderly soaked in a lime-laden mix of diced onions, green peppers, and a small amount of chili peppers — served in a white Styrofoam cup that might otherwise hold a medium coffee ($3).

What these indie Indies ventures have in common — besides good, inexpensive food; convivial spirit; and a proximity to U.S. 441 — are owners with a strong personal connection to the product and community they are serving. These eateries are not investment opportunities for rich folks who lack proper hobbies, but rather the means for hard-working people to offer the food they love, to their neighbors, at an honest price, in order to make a living. As long as such places succeed, they make Miami-Dade better for all of us.

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