South Beach dining can be nauseating before you even pick a restaurant, if you don't know how to navigate it properly. Restaurants hire hot girls to wave menus in your face and yell lunch specials at you while their cleavage falls out of their shirts. Everything seems to cost twice what it should, and more often than not that quality is right up there with Burger King.
But there are restaurants south of 23rd street that offer delicious food that won't empty your pockets.
5. Pizza Rustica
Pizza is always cheap, but that also means it's usually boring. At Pizza Rustica, though, you'll never run out of weird and tasty topping combos to try. From barbeque shrimp paired with juicy pieces of pineapple, to roasted eggplant and creamy goat cheese, to mouth watering Nutella-and-strawberry dessert pizza, it's hard not to try a different kind each time you visit.
Pizza Rustica's "slices" are more like quarter pies. They actually serve them to you stretched across two plates so that they will fit. And best of all, these gargantuan pieces won't run you more than $4.95 (and $3 if you get just plain Margherita). And in case you're not feeling so adventurous, they also have salads and paninis for $6.95.
4. Puerto Sagua
Stowed away among the tourist trap of restaurants that is South Beach, the all-wood decor of Puerto Sagua feels more like South Miami than South Beach. The restaurant serves up real, tastes-like-home Cuban food for a bill a fraction of what you'll spend at any other restaurant in spitting distance. (Granted, there are no Russian strippers here, so if that's you're thing you'll have to look elsewhere).
The juicy pernil asado (roasted pork shoulder) con moro y yuca is $12.95, while the ropa vieja con arroz y platanos (shredded beef with rice and plantains) is $10.95. The seafood dishes naturally cost more, but at $24.95 for a whole fried snapper with rice and beans, you're still getting off easy.
3. Go-Go Fresh Food Café
Driving past Go-Go is impossibly easy to do. It's hidden on a tiny Alton Road strip mall next to a dry cleaners and can barely be seen unless directly next to it.
Everything at Go-Go is tasty. The salads ($4.05 to $9.45), which come in mini or big, use all fresh ingredients like crisp lettuce and perfectly boiled eggs. The soups ($2.25 to $5.25) are homemade and change every day, but types include black bean and broccoli and cheese.
The go-go pies ($2.25) are the highlight of the café. These gringo empanadas come in varieties like steak chimichurri, shrimp scampi, and dulce de leche and blackberry. They are baked to order so show up at your table soft and pipping hot. And with as cheap as they are, you can afford to stuff your face and try a bunch.
2. La Sandwicherie
For over 20 years La Sandwicherie has been serving up sandwiches at their outdoor counter. The fact that it has survived through the Miami humidity is a testament to its quality. People keep coming back for more.
All sandwiches ($5.40 to $8.95) are made on crispy French baguettes or buttery croissants and layered with meat and cheese (or pâté, if you'd like) and heaped with toppings like black olives and peppers. The sandwiches are paired with their famous vinaigrette and cornichons, little French pickles. The combinations are simple, but the result is a sandwich so good that people will brave the tropical heat for it.
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1. Big Pink
Nothing screams "South Beach!" to locals like the neon pink tables at Big Pink. Walking distance from Nicki Beach (if you're brave enough to be there in the first place), the diner never fails to disappoint. The portions are massive and most things on the menu hover around $10 to $15.
The sandwiches, the burgers, the salads -- they're all good. The non-traditional serving styles aren't just fun for kids. The buckets of sides (like fries and wings) come to your table, overflowing from the tin containers. The Big Pink TV dinners ($14.95) change every day, but come in metal trays with six compartments, but taste better than anything you could ever microwave.