Lunch in Miami can mean many things. In South Beach, tourists flock to outdoor tables on Ocean Drive, and in Brickell, businessmen host power lunches in white-tablecloth dining rooms. For the rest of us, there's Coral Gables, where already beloved restaurants show a different side of themselves during afternoon hours. Whether it’s for midday deals and seasonal specials or for that dish that’s too good to wait for dinner service, these Coral Gables spots have lunch covered.
5. Green Gables Café
Cafés like this one are always a solid go-to when it comes to lunch. At Green Gables, locally grown produce and ample use of organic ingredients make for wholesome, healthful dishes. Green Gables is open till 4:30 p.m. and offers all the essentials — salads, sandwiches, burgers, rice bowls, and other items — but choose based on the daily specials that combine multiple items for around $15 to $20. The menu showcases bright herbs, creamy cheeses, and protein options that range from roast beef to mahi-mahi, so you can experience a feel-good meal without going vegan. Of course, you can’t leave an organic eatery without throwing back an immunity-boosting ginger shot ($2.50) on the way out.
4. Su-Shin Izakaya
Japanese restaurants are well known for their great lunch specials, and this is especially true at Su-Shin Izakaya, one of the best sushi spots in the area. There's no pick-me-up like a light sushi lunch or a steaming, spicy noodle soup from this uniquely authentic eatery in the heart of downtown Coral Gables. Chefs encourage guests to experiment with flavors and unusual ingredients, but remarkably excellent versions of traditional dishes such as ramen ($13.95) and chicken teriyaki ($8.95) are also available. Above all, Su-Shin values freshness, so let the ever-changing chalkboard menu be your guide. Lunch is available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
3. Choices Café
What would a lunch list be without an organic vegan joint? Even for those who aren’t ready to take the leap and finally try vegan cheese (it’s made from cashews), Choices offers many other plant-based dishes that are satisfying to carnivores and tree-huggers alike. Burgers, burritos, salads, even nachos – you name it, this place has vegan-ized it, and no menu item exceeds 20 bucks. Plus, it’s hard not to feel good about yourself when the walls are covered with posters of adorable animals you’re saving by feeding on greens and grains instead. The staff is helpful and unpretentious, and for the easily intimidated, the menu even defines potentially unfamiliar terms such as açaí and sprouted tofu.
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2. Frenchie’s Diner
When there’s not enough time to swing by Mom’s house for a home-cooked lunch, Frenchie’s is the next best thing. Checkerboard floors, porcelain plates, and mismatched utensils make this cozy spot a cross between a ’50s diner, a French café, and a family dining room. In other words, it has a certain je ne sais quoi. The comforting atmosphere comes from married owners Gabriel and Shannon Castrec, who develop inspired daily specials in addition to the menu’s traditional French staples. The couple’s passion for cuisine translates to authentic, exciting fare that has turned Frenchie’s Diner into a bustling hot spot for lunch. Lighter options include the prosciutto and goat cheese salad ($16) and the quiche Lorraine ($12), but guests can – and should – indulge in dishes such as the croque-monsieur ($12), perfectly crisped on the outside and oozing a rich interior of Gruyère cheese and béchamel. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
1. Whisk Gourmet
Though Whisk isn't technically in Coral Gables, no bureaucratic map of city limits will get in the way of recommending this place. Whether you’re squeezing in a quick lunch break or leisurely sipping sweet teas for an hour or so, Whisk Gourmet will cater to your midday meal needs. The lighter take on Southern food has turned the charming place into one of the best casual restaurants around Coral Gables, and both the portions and the prices are spot on. The salads layer textures and flavors in a way that reminds us how great a salad really can be. Crisp, cool sandwiches with fresh veggies are available, as well as more melty, toasty varieties like the filet mignon sandwich with creamy blue cheese spread ($14.95). Whisk has the kind of menu that looks so good it makes decisions extra-difficult, so lunch is the perfect time to fully explore the fare. Go with a group and order an array of small plates such as the pulled pork sliders ($12.95), caramelized onion and Brie flatbread ($12.95), and, of course, the stellar signature version of Brussels sprouts, pan-roasted with green goddess sauce ($7.95).