Granny Feel Okay

Perhaps it's time to start marking Miami restaurants on a curve -- this way I could say only nice things about Granny Feelgood's, because, in relation to other local "health food" establishments, there's a lot to feel good about. If compared with a real health-conscious eatery like, say, one that doesn't sell Chupa Chups across from the vitamin counter, Feelgood's would not fare nearly as well. Granny has been around for quite some time. It opened on NW Third Street in 1971, and moved to the current, glitzier digs up the block from the Miami-Dade County Courthouse about four years ago; new owners took over in 2002. The old space had a more natural, and therefore more fitting, look, but the new 100-seat room is simple and tasteful: black granite tabletops, a large storefront window with a dining counter cutting across it, and two dozen seats outside -- not a particularly pretty street for an alfresco experience.

While Granny doesn't delve deeply into Moosewood territory, it does offer up a wide variety of tasty lunches. Sandwiches are especially rewarding, and there are plenty to pick from --wraps; paninis on grilled ciabatta bread; chargrilled tofu, chicken, or fish on honey wheat roll; and a dozen more typical types like tuna melt, sliced turkey, BLT with "low sodium bacon" (gee, that must be healthy), and chunky, fruity chicken salad with "no cholesterol" herbal mayonnaise, raisins, apple bits, and a hint of cinnamon ($6.50). This last group of sandwiches comes on rye, pita, pumpernickel, or whole grain bread; honey wheat roll; or whole wheat bagel, accompanied by corn chips and kosher pickle. It's worth the extra dollar for a supplemental side of wispy sweet potato fries.

Those who relish burgers can choose one comprising beef, turkey, or soy protein. "When in Granny's do as the grannies do," I always say, and backed my words by ordering the vegetarian version ($4.95). Served in a pita pocket with lettuce, tomato, and more of that herbed mayo, it was the equivalent of a fast-food veggie burger -- thin, frozen, and mass-produced.


Granny Feelgood's

25 W Flagler St, Miami, FL

Open Monday through Friday for breakfast 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., lunch 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Call 305-377-9600

The usual array of salads is on hand, all bountiful enough for two to share: Greek, caesar, oriental noodles with sesame dressing, tricolor rotini pasta salad, and a spinach salad ($7.50) with mushroom slices, chopped hard-boiled egg whites, raisins, sun-dried cranberries, and small nuggets of fresh mozzarella. Avoid the miso dressing -- it's weirdly sweet. Other dressings, though prepackaged, are preferable nonetheless.

For hot lunch enthusiasts, Feelgood's sets out a few brown rice and steamed vegetable combos, skinless chicken breast cooked eight ways, catch of the day, shrimp stir-fry, a creditable chimichanga, and four variations on baked stuffed potatoes, which I thought had disappeared about the same time as Tofutti. One of a trio of pastas, wild mushroom ravioli, featured fat, sumptuous dough wrapped around a delectable duxelle, tossed with sun-dried tomatoes and a ton of button mushrooms sautéed in olive oil and a little too much garlic.

Desserts, visible in a glass display case, included a tall, thickly frosted chocolate cake, tiramisu, and cheesecake. There was nothing about their appearance that suggested salubriousness in any way. Same is true for soft, fat-free frozen yogurt, especially when topped with chocolate chips and sweet granola. But it did taste good.

With the dog days of summer upon us, Granny's is unsurpassed for a quick smoothie-stopover -- there are a couple of pages' worth listed in the spiral-notebook menu. Also freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, and assorted "healthy" beverages -- which, if I'm not mistaken, are located in the cooler next to the pretzel and potato chip stand.


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