Brunch in Miami is a big thing, but even that delightful part of the week has its down side. For one, a lot of brunches here are just insanely priced. An omelette any other time of the week would cost under $15, but serve it on a Sunday afternoon, throw in a table full of peel-and-eat shrimp and a mimosa, and the price is suddenly jacked up to nearly 100 bucks per person. Unless your intention is to stuff a week's worth of danish and cheese cubes into your purse for the rest of the week, you're going to have to gorge yourself to even try to break even.
Then there's the curse of "too much of a good thing". Sure, lemon ricotta pancakes are delicious, but do we really need them every week? If you're thinking it's time for a brunch revolution, you should try Mina's Mediterraneo.
Saturday and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mina's serves all your brunch favorites like a salmon benedict ($16) or a breakfast platter of three eggs, roasted potatoes, and toast ($9) at reasonable prices. But what's most intriguing at this 79th St. restaurant are the items that are mashup of cuisines from the Mediterranean, Middle East, and North Africa.
Vintage travel posters on the walls of this airy, high ceilinged space remind you of the restaurant's influences: Morocco, Eqypt, Capri, and Lebanon are all represented. It's a good way to daydream about far off lands while you wait the 15 minutes for your shakshuka to arrive at the table. Of course, there's a note on the menu to remind you about the extra time it takes for your meal to arrive, so it's best to order a few dips and pita to assuage your hunger. Priced at $4 each, three for $10, five for $15, the dips include besara (ground fava beans), tahini, hummus, baba ghanoug, tzatziki, and a spicy feta that's quite fiery. All come with warm pita bread.
The shakshuka, by the way, is well worth the wait. It's brought to your table in a piping hot skillet, straight from the oven (along with a "do not touch" warning). The eggs are baked with tomato, onion, peppers, and are pleasantly spiced with some garlic, cumin, and a hint of the more exotic. Dip the rustic bread into the egg and tomato mixture and it's an explosion of flavors. At $12, it's also a Miami bargain. Meat lovers can add merguez sausage for an additional $4. Still a deal.
If you're looking for something even more unusual, the Eqyptian brunch is both filling and a good value. An assortment of items are served in several earthenware bowls. In them you'll find eggs scrambled with basterma (cured beef tenderloin); foul (sauteed fava beans); feta cheese and olived; a falafel; and a crock of thick molasses/tahini spread for spreading on your pita. At $16, this could be the best way to experience Egypt while staying in Miami.
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Leave room for dessert. The rice pudding is rich, creamy, and topped with cinnamon, raisins, and slivered almonds ($5). There's also a shareable Nutella pizza, topped with strawberries or bananas ($12).
Mina's offers the standard bottomless mimosas and sangrias for $20. Go ahead and order them. Even with your drinks, you're still paying less than half of what you'd spend on other, less exciting brunches. What to do with the savings? Put them in your piggy bank to save for your own Mediterranean vacation.