Last week we aimed the spotlight at ten overpriced restaurant dishes; this week we go the other way. I would like to have called this The 5 Best Restaurant Dishes For $10 Or Under, but there are way too many great deals in town to warrant so declarative a statement.
For instance, inexpensive ethnic restaurants abound with good cheap eats -- although I'm not including such "joints" in this listing. Pricy restaurants often have a surprising steal or two tucked away in the menu, much as there are bargains to be found at Barney's and Bloomingdale's if one looks closely enough (or at least I'm told). To qualify for this quintet, the dish has to be praiseworthy at any price, and served at a restaurant that has a reputation for quality.
Fried Chicken at Joe's Stone Crab/Joe's Takeaway: $5.95
A prime strip steak is $49.95 at this landmark seafood house. A surf & turf of filet mignon and lobster is $69.95. The namesake stone crabs are market price, which usually means sixty dollars or so for a jumbo claw. But you can sit in the same comfy chair, in the same classic environment, and enjoy a half-chicken cleanly fried (or broiled or barbecued), with a side and cool pumpernickel rolls and other breads, for $5.95. Somehow the ambiance at Pollo Tropical isn't quite the same. Then again, like at that chain, if you go next door you can get the same deal at Joe's Takeaway.
Kimchi Benedict at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink: $8
A beautifully poached egg comes on toasted crumpet, a layer of kimchi and crispy pork belly adding crunch, fat, spice, and fantastic flavor. The whole is then draped in a fetching kimchi hollandaise. It's arguably the least expensive benedict in town, and almost certainly the best.
Sashimi meal at Matsuri Japanese Restaurant: $9
Six pieces of sashimi from one of Miami-Dades' very best sushi establishments. It comes with choice of miso soup or house salad. This is not "bargain" sushi we're talking about, but, as we say, rather sensational stuff at any price. For under $10, it's a steal.
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Skirt Steak Chimichurri at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill: $9.95
It comes off the robata grill, the exterior spiced and seared, the slices red and juicy. Granted, it's not a large steak, but it's tasty as can be. Plus you get the sizzling Sugarcane scene thrown in for free -- and that's not chopped liver.
This post has been edited after it was noted that the one-pound southern boy barbecue ribs at Gigi were $16 not $10.