When Carène and Jean Zaragoza moved here from France, they found Downtown Miami lacked healthy, fresh and local dining options. 221 Cafe is their way of addressing the issue, and the couple pride themselves in offering mainly organic food from local purveyors.
"We decided on this concept because this is who we are and this is how we eat," says Carène.
Just steps from the courthouse, 221 Cafe serves breakfast and lunch daily till 5 p.m. in a cozy wood washed space. Despite its business centric location, the pace here is relaxed and guests are encouraged to sit back and linger.
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The Zaragozas use bread from Zak the Baker, java from Panther Coffee, and they visit local farms and farmers markets to source ingredients. Breakfast options include omelettes, a bagel with wild salmon, whole wheat pancakes and the 221 special: egg whites, avocado, tomato and lettuce on ciabatta.
On a recent lunch visit, I tried an open face sandwich with figs, honey, walnuts and goat cheese which proved to be an excellent mix of sweet and savoury. The Fresh and French is a more hearty option and features tuna, tomatoes, radish, green pepper, artichoke, celery, black olives, egg, basil and olive oil on a pan-bagnat bun.
Pan bagnat is popular in the south of France and means "bathed bread" because it's meant to absorb some liquid from the sandwich's filling. It's a particularly fluffy bread which is nice, and the combination of ingredients is a winning one.
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Other lunch choices are turkey and veggie meatballs, salads and burgers. 221 Cafe also serves organic smoothies and juices, as well as homemade desserts.
221 Cafe, 221 NW First Ave., Miami; 786-536-2268.