John Zur

  • Blogs

    December 15, 2011

    Vesper Has Pussy Galore and Killer Alaskan King Crab

    John ZurIncredibly meaty king crab leg. ​Owner Keith Menin dumped $20 million into the Shelborne Hotel's comeback, which debuted for Art Basel. Among the new features of the boutique hotel is the swanky, James Bond-themed restaurant Vesper, which has references to Ian Fleming's 1953 novel Casino ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 25, 2011

    Otentic's French Spice Lunch Menu Is Delicious, Slow As Molasses

    ​French Spice is the lesser known sibling of Miami Spice. Taking place from November 1st through the 30th, there have been twenty restaurants in Miami-Dade and Broward participating in the lunch ($15 or $22) and dinner ($25 or $35) pre-set menus. Participating in the promotion is Miami Beach's Ote ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 12, 2011

    Gables Aragon Cuisine: Excellent Mexican Food at Affordable Prices

    John Zur The interior of Gables Aragon Cuisine. ​If you were to judge Gables Aragon Cuisine (141 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables) by its suggestively ambiguous name, you probably wouldn't give it a chance. You might not even guess what they serve. Opened just three months ago, the Mexican resta ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 6, 2011

    Indomania Plays On Your Senses

    John Zur Indomania's intimate interior.Indomania sits on an unassuming side street in mid Miami Beach. It's truly a hidden gem, with a dining room of about 30 seats, crisp white linen, and plush leather banquettes. Soft jazz and lots of Sinatra plays in the background.  Owners/hu ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 30, 2011

    Lucky Strike's New Bowling Menu. They Nailed the (Banana) Split.

      John Zur Zesty jerk style chicken wings with jalapeno aioli. ​Lucky Strike Lanes, the national bowling chain with a location in Miami Beach, is set to debut a new menu in July. Bowling alley food doesn't sound like much to get excited about, but chef Chaunte Goodena's new items are ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 27, 2011

    Miami Spice Sneak Peek: Fontainebleau's Scarpetta, Hakkasan, & Gotham Steak

    John Zur Scarpetta's superb Mediterranean branzino.​Scarpetta, Hakkasan, and Gotham Steak at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach will participate in Miami Spice this August and September. As always, the dinner Spice menu will cost $35 per person.Scarpetta's menu will include a creamy polenta ($16 ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 21, 2011

    Casa Larios: Decent Sunday Special, Terrible Service

    John Zur Casa Larios' Sunday special, cordero asado. ​Inside Casa Larios, South Miami, are bright colors and lots of space between wooden tables. There is a bar, a stage for live entertainment, a walk-up window, and outdoor seating.The camarones ceviche ($11.95) is served in a tall glass. T ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 21, 2011

    George's Italian Restaurant & Lounge: Make Mine Veal!

    John Zur The interior of George's Italian Restaurant & Lounge. ​Located in North Miami Beach, George's Italian Restaurant & Lounge features (Americanized) Italian comfort food in an upscale casual setting. There's white linen on the tables and music of generations past overhead. Tha ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 16, 2011

    Gibraltar Brunch Buffet for Father's Day

    John ZurThe view from an outside table. ​Gibraltar, at Grove Isle Hotel and Spa, in Coconut Grove, is an oasis within a tropical paradise. Spectacular views of Biscayne Bay from both indoor and outdoor dining areas make it a worthy destination. On Sundays, executive chef Rafael Melendez rolls out ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 16, 2011

    Miss Saigon Bistro's Desserts Include Thai Donuts to Die For

    John Zur Miss Saigon's Thai donuts. ​Miss Saigon Bistro has a dessert menu shrouded in secrecy. The little Vietnamese restaurant located in Coral Gables (there's also a location in Pinecrest) offers sweet treats that are sure to please.The place's look is a bit hokey and the service staff did ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 9, 2011

    Morton's Bar Bites: Power Hour Pricing vs. Rip-off Rates

    John Zur Crab Cakes​On a visit to Morton's the Steakhouse, in Brickell, we narrowly missed the power hour, which features appetizers priced from $5 to $6, so had to try the food at regular prices. Power hour pricing also includes select beers ($5), wines by the glass ($6.50), and cocktails ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 27, 2011

    Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt: Salted Caramel Debuts Today

    John Zur Mini coconut with toppings & mini chocolate with toppings. ​Pinkberry, known for its tart frozen yogurt, opened in Kendall in March 2011. Located in The Prado Shopping Center, the place has been hailed as a "strong neighborhood store," according to director of operations Jeyson ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 25, 2011

    Angelique Euro Cafe: Four-Course, Prix Fixe Menu a Definite Deal

    John Zur Lobster ravioli.​Located on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, Angelique Euro Cafe is both cool and a pleasurable place to eat. There's ample illumination, comfortable spacing between tables, and live entertainment (that takes requests), but the most enticing aspect of the restaurant is ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 23, 2011

    Bagel Emporium vs. Roasters' n Toasters: The Great Caper Rip-off

    John ZurBagel Emporium's bagel and lox to-go.​A great bagel with lox/nova in Miami is about as rare as a sold-out Marlins game. In South Miami, two local bagel places were tested head-to-head. Both Bagel Emporium and Roasters' n Toasters are located on South Dixie Highway, just three miles -- or f ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 20, 2011

    Blue Piano: Anthony Bourdain Would Love This Place

    John Zur Exterior of The Blue Piano.​There isn't a shred of pretentiousness in the air at the The Blue Piano, in Buena Vista, just north of the Design District. If you're into hype and scene, this place isn't for you. But if you enjoy wines, manageable portions of crafted dishes with comfor ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 18, 2011

    Havana Spice Cafe: A $19 Steak and Good-bye Hangover

    John ZurHavana Spice Cafe's cure for the common hangover: pan con bistec. ​You know the feeling. You wake up dehydrated from the inside out, disoriented, and.... hungry. You need of a hearty meal and strong cup of coffee to knock last night's alcohol intake out of your system.You're in luck. Locat ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 16, 2011

    Shake Shack: Sundae Stinks, Manager Cool

    John ZurThe ideal Shake Shack double dip sundae.​On a visit to that New York-born burger joint on Lincoln Road, Shake Shack, I ordered a double dip sundae ($4.70) with chocolate truffle cookie dough, but received an underwhelming serving of vanilla frozen custard covered with a mound of cookie dou ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 12, 2011

    Hakkasan: Miami's Best Asian Vegetarian Food Doesn't Come Cheap

    John Zur Hakkasan's vegetarian dim sum.​Four Diamond Award-winner, Hakkasan, at the Fontainebleau Hotel, may not be the most likely destination for vegetarians. But the menu is rich with offerings to suit most every taste and preference.Executive Chef Ooi Soon Lok offers fresh, well orchest ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 10, 2011

    El Rancho Grande: Best Mexican Food Pics Ever

    John Zur El Rancho Grande's fresh tostadas. ​It might not be Cinco de Mayo any longer, but that can't stop the craving for good Mexican food. At El Rancho Grande, lunch got started with a basket of complimentary chips, served warm with a side salsa kick.Although listed on the menu, guacamol ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 3, 2011

    Blade's New Space: Like Sharing a Bedroom With Your Brother (Pictures)

    John ZurBlade's naruto maki roll. ​The Fontainebleau's sushi restaurant, Blade, has made a return; but this time it's rooming with Vida. The space isn't thoroughly spliced yet. The frosted glass walls are on their way for installation, but executive chef Thomas Connell is quick to discuss plans fo ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 19, 2011

    Lucky Oriental Mart Has Pocky, Mochi, and Milkfish

    John ZurPocky is a must-try Japanese cookie snack. ​Located off Bird Road, Lucky Oriental Mart is an Asian grocery store stocked with foods and products from China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Stroll the aisles and your curiosity will be piqued by col ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 18, 2011

    Yiya's Gourmet Cuban Bakery More Than Pastelitos

    John ZurYiya's Gourmet Cuban Bakery​A Miami New Times' 2009 Best of winner, Yiya's Gourmet Cuban Bakery certainly has a lot of charm. the place has an extensive menu that goes beyond Cuban staples. There are guava and cheese pastries (95 cents each) and pan con lechon ($5.65). Situated on NE 79th ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 15, 2011

    Deli Lane's Savory Brunch Is Unpretentious and Satisfying

    John Zur Deli Lane Cafe and Tavern​The South Miami location of Deli Lane Cafe & Tavern is an ideal locale for a Sunday brunch. The casual and unpretentious atmosphere embodies what lazy Sundays are all about. Even when the weather is good, the wait for a table at the height of the brunc ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 13, 2011

    Essensia's Conscious Bite Out: A Recap

    John ZurThe dining area before dinner. ​Last night, Conscious Bite Out's monthly dinner took place at chef Frank Jeannetti's Essensia at the Palms Hotel. The event was hosted by the event's founders, Marcela Andron and Veronica Menin. They stressed choosing restaurants that support vegan- and vege ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 12, 2011

    Red, the Steakhouse: Surf vs. Turf

    John Zur Halibut.​On a recent Saturday night, we visited South Beach's Red, the Steakhouse and were delighted that Chef Peter Vauthy would amicably send some plates our way to taste. The entrees consisted of the du jour item, halibut, and the 8-oz. filet mignon. The SurfAs our knowledgeable ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 12, 2011

    Hawa Fusion Lacks Cohesion

    John Zur The dining room.​Located in Coral Gables, Hawa Fusion is a potentially fascinating commingling of mostly Mediterranean and Japanese cuisine. Featuring glossy, unnecessary photos of the food, the menu doesn't excite at first glance, but the dining room has hints of moderate elegance ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 28, 2011

    Chocolate Fashion: A Suprising Neighborhood Delight

    John ZurChocolate banana pan cake.​Tucked away a block south of Miracle Mile, in Coral Gables, Chocolate Fashion is a pleasant neighborhood bakery, breakfast spot, and sweet shop. On a recent Saturday morning, we sat at one of four tables-for-two on the sidewalk. However, there was a line out the ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 21, 2011

    Tropical Chinese Restaurant's $39 Peking Duck Is A Steal

    John ZurPeking duck before appetizer​Located at the end of an ordinary strip mall across the street from Tropical Park on Bird Road, Tropical Chinese Restaurant has been a hidden gem for 27 years. And while the exterior isn't much, the interior décor transports diners to  Chinatown, San Fr ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 18, 2011

    Patagonia's Got (Chocolate) Balls and Other Sweet Things You Can Put in Your Mouth

    John Zur​Located on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, the third installation of Patagonia (the other two are located in Doral and Key Biscayne) features delicious empanadas and sandwiches. But you might want to check it out instead for the incredible glass case of sweets. Priced at $11.99 per pound ( ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 16, 2011

    OLA's Polished Staff and Artful Ceviche Shine

    John ZurCeviche at OLA.​Tucked away inside the Sanctuary Hotel in Miami Beach, OLA is tidy in name, appearance, and cuisine. Chef and owner Douglas Rodriguez, or "El Jefe" as the menu refers to him, oversees the menu with executive chef Horacio Rivadero, who kindly came out of the kitchen and invi ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 14, 2011

    Food at Calle Ocho Festival 2011 in Photos

    John Zur​Sunday, as a mass of people moved along the stretch of Eighth Street between 12th and 27th avenues, street vendors hawked arroz con pollo, arepas, and chorizo at the annual Calle Ocho Festival. Arepas, arepas, arepas! There was much of the same food to be had. With such a homogeneous off ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 28, 2011

    SBWFF 2011: Closing Party with Guy Fieri at Gansevoort

    John ZurGuy Fieri​Scents of barbecue and cigar smoke collided on the sand behind the Gansevoort hotel during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival Closing Party with Guy Fieri. Guests were first given a bag containing a pair of flimsy flip-flops and complimentary drink tickets to STK. Soon ther ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 27, 2011

    SBWFF 2011: Thrillist BBQ & The Blues

    John ZurChef Timon Balloo of Sugarcane serving his braised beef short ribs​A huge line stretched from the entrance of The Oasis, at The Raleigh Hotel, towards Collins Avenue on Saturday night. The fine smell of barbecue just over the wall inspired impatience.Once inside, guests didn't know whether ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 21, 2011

    Miss Yip Downtown: Pseudo-Chinese Décor Better Than The Pseudo-Chinese Food

    John ZurInterior​Miss Yip Chinese Café recently opened at NE Ninth Street and Biscayne with a contagious energy that made its way down the steps and around the corner. There was ample outside seating and a large sign overhead announcing that Miss Yip had made it downtown.But the parking situation ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 14, 2011

    Schakolad Chocolate Factory: A Last Minute Valentine's Day Savior

    John ZurSchakolad Chocolate Factory​Need a last minute box of superb chocolates to complete the trifecta of gifts (roses, chocolate, and jewelry) for Valentine's Day? Try Schakolad on 41st Street in Miami Beach. Its charming exterior is the work of co-owner Raquel Schachter, who runs the place ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 9, 2011

    Dunkin' Donuts' "Cupid's Choice" A Valentine's Day Let Down

    John Zur​Dunkin Donuts is peddling a curious, heart-shaped sweet. There are two variations of the "Cupid's Choice" (99 cents each): chocolate with a raspberry jelly filling and vanilla with a custard filling. The latter is painted with a strawberry frosting. The thing had stale, dry taste tha ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 8, 2011

    Benny's Puerto Rican Cuisine Done In By Terrible Service

    John ZurBenny's​On a recent excursion to West Kendall, we found our hungry selves at the corner of Coral Way and SW 107th Avenue. There was Benny's, with its proud Puerto Rican flag backlit with a violet hue and posters of food plastered in the windows. How could we not take up the "open" sign on ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 7, 2011

    Mango's Tropical Cafe: A Tourist Trap Revisited

    John ZurMango's wings​If you live in Miami, you might have forgotten what it was like when you first moved her. You did, you know,, tourist things such as enjoying a night out at Mango's Tropical Café. The Ocean Drive institution is known for its colorful cast of character patrons, shows, and sca ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 2, 2011

    Taverna Opa's $25 Surf & Turf: Deal or No Deal?

    John Zursurf & turf​The South Beach location of Taverna Opa has a $25 surf and surf entree. This is interesting because down the block is Prime 112, where an 8-ounce filet mignon goes for $38. I know, I know, how much hope can you have for a Greek restaurant serving up steak, but there's mor ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 28, 2011

    Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill: SoCal's Chain Gets Barbecue Right

    John ZurTri tip sandwich​Boy, is the old adage true that the secret is in the sauce, especially at Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill! The Southern California chain has fourteen locations and we wish just one of them was here in Miami, even with their stiff, wooden lodge feel. Things didn't start off on the ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 13, 2010

    Vida's Breakfast Buffet Leaves Fontainebleau with Egg on the Face

    John Zur​On a Sunday morning, Vida, Fontainebleau's three-meal contemporary cafe, serves a breakfast from seven until noon. Swirls of mostly hotel guests are up and about between buffet tables. We were greeted and our reservation was recognized with efficiency; this was the smoothest part of our m ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 8, 2010

    Tacontento: Mango Salsa, Strawberry Sauce, and Many Meats

    John Zur​Festive decor with multi-colored pinatas overhead and bright pink and yellow walls draw you into Tacontento. And before you know it, you're seated at a lime green table sipping a cool, refreshing glass of horchata ($4). Scanning the menu, your eye is drawn to the guacamole ($9), which com ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 7, 2010

    Erotic Art and Kid Waiters At Sweet Times Gourmet & Cafe

    John ZurSushi bar and lesbian kiss​ On a cool, recent night, my sweet tooth took me to Midtown's Sweet Times Gourmet & Cafe. It was a weird combination. A cafe and bakery was in back and a sushi bar was located in the front of the restaurant, Sorry, but I don't much like dessert-sushi fusio ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 30, 2010

    Sake Blue Asian Kitchen & Bar Latest From Town/Smoke'd Folks

    John ZurAs with Town, Sake Blue will probably be about the drinksFirst came Town Kitchen & Bar. Next was Smoke't Southern Kitchen & Tap. On deck, with opening date pegged in January: Sake Blue Asian Kitchen & Bar (notice how each time this restaurant group names a new restaurant they mak ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 26, 2010

    Thai House II's Thai Lunches a Value

    John Zurchicken with vegetables​From 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, Thai House II -- not to be confused with Thai House I on South Beach -- offers a lunch menu in addition to an already extensive menu featuring Thai and Japanese cuisine. The lunch menu, with dishes of tempura or teriyaki, and sushi c ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 8, 2010

    Bitchin' Crabcakes at Lou's Beer Garden

    John Zur​Finding Lou's Beer Garden, 2010 Best of Winner for New Bar/North, is made easier by the bright neon sign in front of The New Hotel. But it's not easy to find.The entrance is on the side of the hotel. You follow a path wreathed with green on either side, then emerge onto a concrete pool de ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 6, 2010

    San Francisco to Miami: Asian Food Part Two

    John ZurSan Francisco Jollibee ​Continuing the trek through some of San Francisco's diverse Asian restaurants, part two focuses on two casual establishments, otherwise known as chains. John ZurJollibee interior​ Yesterday we described two restaurants that could teach Miami something about Asian ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 5, 2010

    Asian Eats: San Francisco to Miami, Part One

    John ZurFar East Cafe​The largest Chinatown outside of Asia is found in San Francisco. The city that columnist Herb Caen called "Baghdad by the Bay" boasts some of the most diverse, and incredible Asian cuisine in the country. Miami, which has come late to the Asian-fusion trend with restaurants s ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 2, 2010

    World Festival Miami: Valet Hell

    John Zur​It seemed troubling yesterday morning when only 140 of the $125 tickets for World Festival Miami at the Palms had sold. But a crowd of at least 300 showed and was greeted by bright-eyed, smiling kids who benefit from Common Threads, a nonprofit that educates mostly low-income ch ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 1, 2010

    Pampanguena Inc. is Oriental (Mostly Filipino) Groceries, Take-Out, & Catering

    John Zur​Sisters Elsa Burger and Josie Lacsina have been feeding the Filipino community, and others who like the cuisine, for eleven years through a business called Pampanguena, Inc. This South Dade Asian grocery store also has fresh food made daily. And though it's a small operation, the sisters ... More >>

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