When lunchtime rolls around, most on-the-go locals seek the same things: fast, fresh, and affordable cuisine. Achieving this trifecta during a lunch break can be difficult, but don’t feel stuck between waiting 40 minutes for a table and settling for a soggy prepackaged sandwich – Miami has much more to offer. These downtown spots hit all the marks with quick, portable fare that won’t suffer from a takeout box or a little travel time.
5. The Daily Creative Food Co.
As its name suggests, the Daily Creative Food Co. wants to become your regular lunch spot. Newspaper-collaged tabletops carry a charming journalistic theme for diners eating in, but most menu items are ideal for takeout. The wraps and salads are far from skimpy, and panini such as the Freelancer ($8) – melted cheddar, Granny Smith apples, caramelized onions, arugula and Dijon mustard — are a major upgrade from your average sandwich. If you’re in the area and short on time, they'll even deliver a made-to-order meal right to your doorstep or office.
4. Station 28
Sometimes it takes a hefty burger smothered in sweet and spicy toppings to make it through the day. At Station 28, Peruvian-inspired burgers and sandwiches are available at a walk-up outdoor counter. It’s the ideal spot for grab-and-go fare that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for convenience, and most indulgent dishes are under $10. There's also fresh-squeezed juices and more traditional dishes such as tamales and empanadas. For those seeking even more for their meal, "chef special" platters such as pork chops and crunchy grouper are served from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include soup and a minidessert for $10.
3. Giardino Salads
At last — a spot that makes satisfying salads. Right by the corner of East Flagler Street and SE Second Avenue, Giardino may sound like an Italian eatery, but the extensive menu offers global flavors beyond the basic caesar and caprese options. Fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and veggies meet homemade toppings such as toasted pita croutons and citrus cilantro dressing. Pick a predesigned option off the menu, or create your own dish on a base of greens or grains or wrapped in a tortilla. With seemingly endless combinations and seasonal specials, the days of boring, repetitive lunches are long gone.
2. Café Pastis
Lunch fare can mean more than the traditional soup-salad combo. Café Pastis is serving midday staples with French flair, from sandwiches stacked with prosciutto and fresh mozzarella, to salads topped with tuna tartare and fig-tapenade croutons. If you can’t make up your mind, trust Paris-trained chef Philippe Jacquet and go for the quiche du jour ($10.50). Most lunch choices are closer to $15, but the few extra bucks are well worth the thoughtful, simple preparation of high-quality ingredients.
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1. Jar + Fork Miami
Reap the benefits of hipster cuisine with more than just açaí bowls at this fast-casual, fresh café just down the street from Giardino. Jar + Fork helps patrons live the motto "#slowfoodfastlife" via hearty takeout options such as a chicken rice bowl with cilantro-lime aoili ($10) and a turkey BLT on Zak the Baker bread ($12). For a lighter lunch or even a midday snack that's easy on the wallet, there are organic oats with almond milk, fruits, and seeds ($4) and in-house vegan energy bars ($3) that are ready-made all day.