Damn, damn, damn. Michael's Genuine is booked. MC Kitchen too. The Bazaar laughed you off, and 27 Restaurant cooly said, "We'll try man, but, you know, it's Basel."
The fairs are only a week away, and hotels and restaurants are already filling to the brim. Unless you're a millionaire, it might be too late for you to secure a meal at every place you want. But perhaps you're a struggling artist, spending every last penny on a flight to Miami in hopes of rubbing shoulders with Larry Gagosian and possibly basking in the glory of Leonardo DiCaprio's dad bod. The fact is, you'll need to eat. So we've cobbled together a list of real Miami joints that will love you and feed you no matter who you are.
Located a short walk and an even shorter Uber ride from the Miami Beach Convention Center, this is the place to get your taco fix. While you decide whether you want your handmade blue corn tortillas filled with barbacoa or huitlacoche, be sure to cop an order of totopos ($4). The hand-torn and fried chips are sort of crunchy, sort of spongy. It's textural heaven and a brief respite from trying to fake knowing what this-or-that Duchamp is about.
Located just a few blocks north of the Design District, this pristine Argentine joint will be like a breath of fresh air. Brothers Maximiliano and Cristian Alvarez, natives of Córdoba, opened their place on the edge of Little Haiti three years ago. They gutted a Haitian cafeteria and filled it with coiled light bulbs, red-brick walls, and photographs. One the menu: mollejas ($11) — veal sweetbreads marinated overnight in herbs and milk and then pan-seared until golden and crisp. Also, try canelones ($17), cigar-shaped pasta cylinders stuffed with spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, and nutmeg, all smothered in tomato and reduced cream sauce.
3. Noa Cafe
This pintsize spot on the southeast side of midtown is a mostly catering outfit that is also a favored lunch haunt. Israeli owner Adi Kafri sells simple, warming fare that everyone can enjoy at friendly prices. The most expensive item is a $14.95 grilled 12-ounce New York strip steak. The generous salads are $10.95, and the focaccia sandwiches cost $8.95.
2. La Latina
In 2013, this petite midtown areperia hosted a breakfast with legendary Venezuelan kinetic artist Carlos Cruz-Diez. Maybe you'll spot him again this year; maybe you won't. Either way, La Latina's owner Carlos Matheus will launch a blitzkrieg on your palate with some of Miami's finest arepas. The crisp-crusted corn rounds can be filled with shredded pork ($5.50) or luscious chicken salad and avocado wedges ($5.95). There are also choices for vegetarians, because we love vegetarians — we'll eat you first when the Rapture comes. Please feel free to fatten yourself by choosing the arepas with either cheese and sweet plantains ($5.75) or black beans and sturdy, salty queso a mano ($5.95).
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1. Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop
This beloved Cuban joint is a true melting pot. Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho lunches here while hobos lurch toward the ventanita for a paper cone of cold water. Things are sure to get even freakier during Miami Art Week, but they'll remain as reliably delicious. You know the deal: Medianoches ($4.95). Sopa de pollo ($2.75/$5). Seafood paella ($9.99) every Thursday. Never forget the croquetas at the to-go window; just be sure your bacalao is of the homemade variety.