Here at Short Order, our collectively beady eyes are always on the lookout for delectable plates of food that do not require a ransom to acquire. On the one hand, there are more than five such deals; on the other, there aren't as many as one might think. Here's a quick quintet to start with:
Puerco con Mojo Mofongo at Jimmy'z Kitchen Wynwood: $15.50
Jimmy Carey's rendition of the Puerto Rican ode to plantains and protein is simply the best around. A dome of fried green platanos barely contains a mound of juicy, slow-roasted pork awash in garlic-kicked bitter orange mojo sauce. It is the proverbial meal unto itself, and a damn good one at that.
Fried Jumbo Shrimp at Garcia's Seafood Grille & Fish Market: $14.95
Firstly, you get to start with the complimentary crackers and smoked fish dip. Then there's the outdoor vista of the Miami River. And for little more than a song, you get a basket of fried (or grilled) jumbo shrimp with choice of two sides -- rice, fries, slaw, potatoes, salad or plantains. You can barely do better if you do the fishing yourself.
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Paella at Andalus: $18
One is usually compelled to invite a guest to dinner if thinking of ordering paella in a Spanish restaurant; "for two" is inevitable part of the menu description. Not so at this new Andalusian tapas restaurant in the Design District. And this version is a beauty: Squid, mussels, shrimp, clams, prawns, scallops, and fish, with peas, peppers, paprika, and Calasparra rice swelled with fish fumet.
Large Charcuterie Platter at Bistro 555: $20
This South Beach warehouse-style wine bar, wine market, and French bistro proffers a generous plate of prosciutto, chorizo, garlic sausage, French-cured salamis, brie, cornichons, sweet onion jam, and slices of baguette. Or you can grab a similarly sized platter of smoked chicken and duck breasts, duck rillette, páte, bresaola, brie, and same garnishes as above. Pluck an under-$30 bottle of wine from the shelves and you -- and your group -- are set with a fun, affordable meal.
Yeung Chow Fried Rice with Homemade X.O. Sauce at Hakkasan: $20
It's the classic Chinese wok fried rice we have all come to love. Only better, because the char sui (barbecued pork), shrimp, scallions, egg yolks, and other ingredients are a notch above your average neighborhood joint. And the Cantonese X.O. sauce (dried seafoods with chili peppers, onions, and garlic) picks it up one more notch. Twenty bucks is a lot for fried rice, but this is a stellar version -- and it gets you a seat at the table of one of the prettiest dining rooms in town.