Coral Way Brings the Flavors of the World To Miami, Part One
Bakalva selection at Middle East Best Market
Walking down Coral Way is like taking a trip around the world.
Beneath the shade of the evergreen canopy created by the 90-year-old banyan trees that line Southwest 24th Street (the other name for Coral Way), doctors' offices, law firms, Radio Caracol, banks, and gas stations make up a community of Uruguayan, Spanish, Portuguese, Argentinean,and Peruvian establishments, many of them restaurants.
The beauty of it all is that many of these restaurants, some hidden while others easy to spot, dot Coral Way between SW 12th and 22nd Avenue.
For the next three days, we will go on a gastronomic voyage down a 10-block stretch of international cuisine on Coral Way and explore the flavors of the world without having to leave Miami, better yet, without really needing a car.
Mykonos is our first stop.
Jiannis Kafouros sat outside his restaurant on the corner of Coral Way and 12th Avenue as he drank an iced coffee and cruised the web on his iPad.
Painted stone rocks bordered the bright blue entrance door; a mural of a man loading his donkey with a fruit basket outside of his Greek village was displayed on the outside wall of the restaurant.
Guests sitting and taking in the outside breeze as they enjoyed their meals made it seem as if Kafouros was sitting outside a taverna in his homeland of Greece. That is the charm that has characterized Mykonos Greek Restaurant for 39 years.
"We're a landmark," said Kafouros.
Originally from Athens, Kafouros took over the restaurant 26 years ago. In 1973 he immigrated to Baltimore where he had relatives from his mother's side of the family. It was an uncle who had moved to Miami and owned Mykonos who made Kafouros an offer to run the restaurant.
The majority of the recipes are my grandmother's," said Kafouros, who grew up watching his γιαγιά cook. "They are her recipes with my own twist."
Although Kafouros said lamb is the first food that comes to mind when many Americans think of Greek food, "that's not true" of the real thing, he says.
Our menu reflects the diversity of the different regions of Greece. From the Middle East to the Balkans, there is a recipe for each region," Kafouros said.
The menu includes a variety of dishes from dolmadakia, stuffed grape leaves, to mousaka, a Greek-style lasagna with layers of ground beef, eggplant, potatoes and cream sauce, to vegetarian-friendly melinzanes tylixtes, eggplant rolls.
Kafouros prides himself in his shrimp saganakie, an authentic Greek plate served with fresh tomatoes and feta cheese.
"It's the typical Greek way of doing shrimp," Kafouros said.
The interview was interrupted by a phone call. It was the fisherman.
After a five-minute conversation, Kafouros said, "And that's the secret."
Tomorrow, we move west on Coral Way.
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