7:43 p.m.: @lonelygal Chowing down on beef/porcini dumplings at Chowdown Grill in Surfside.

7:44 p.m.: @lonelygal At counter as usual, just a loner I guess.

7:48 p.m.: @lonelygal Lo mein or chow fun. Anyone have a suggestion?

7:55 p.m.: @lonelygal G, thx for nothing. I'm going with lo mein, chewy noodles with Oriental kale and choice of protein. Price is just $11.

8:07 p.m.: @lonelygal Seems like so long since I've tweeted. Chef Marcus is behind counter. Offered me sample of steak in green curry sauce.

8:09 p.m.: @lonelygal Just ordered steak in green curry sauce ($15). Brown or white rice?

8:11 p.m.: @lonelygal I'm drinking Victory Golden Monkey (a beer) ($7)!

8:17 p.m.: @lonelygal Chef says I'm starting 2 look familiar. G, after only 14 visits!

8:22 p.m.: @lonelygal Organic chix in orange chili sauce ($15). I'm in HEAVEN!!!

8:31 p.m.: @lonelygal Dessert? Well, I've already had dumplings & 2 mains.

8:32 p.m.: @lonelygal Come 2 think of it, maybe shoulda had ramen soup instead of lo mein. I'm getting full.

8:35 p.m.: @lonelygal Hell, bring on the blueberry-white chocolate bread pudding! And another Winning Yellow Monkey!

8:36 p.m.: @lonelygal I may b dining alone, but CD Grill's food & Twitterverse make gr8 friends.

8:39 p.m.: @lonelygal Tab is reasonable. I'd make a cheap date! LOL!

8:43 p.m.: @lonelygal Something may b wrong w/Twitter, am not getting responses.

8:45 p.m.: @lonelygal Can't wait 2 tell friends bout this place.

8:46 p.m.: @lonelygal Guess I just did!
Some of the best chefs in America call Miami home, but they're not entirely responsible for the quality of dining here. Mother Nature blessed this region with paradisiacal weather. And because the beauty of our shoreline is an economic engine, we have plenty of choices when it comes to waterfront dining. But that doesn't always add up to a great meal. For a well-delivered balance of epic seaside view, attentive service, sexy atmosphere, and creative cuisine, chef Mark Zeitouni has the goods. This popular spa's nutritional philosophy is built on fresh, humane, organic, unprocessed, Mediterranean grill cooking. It also offers fine raw and vegan fare. From breakfast till the sun goes down, bikini girls and Speedo dudes lounge at the infinity pool mere feet from Biscayne Bay. An adjacent array of tables beneath designer umbrellas offers welcoming respite from the Miami heat. And for dinner service, slinky casualwear abounds. Feast on small plates, grilled steak, or a mahi-mahi sandwich, and watch the dolphins swim past in the omnipresent glow of the good life.
Sung to the tune of "My Way":

Martinis, I have a few
After work at dear Cecconi's
I meet some friends, have dinner too
Italian fare, it's all so tony.

The outdoor patio, so lush and green
An open sky, a lively scene
Fresh pastas too, divine cuisine
I love Cecconi's.

Tuscan bean soup and beef tartare
A thin-crust pie, a roast branzino,
I hope the waiter doesn't go far
We need more grated pecorino.

I finish off with tiramisu
Too bad there's no spumoni
One can't deny the price is high,
But I love Cecconi's.

Best Place for Outdoor Salad and Smoothie

T.H.R.I.V.E.

Thrive
The recent annual meeting in Copenhagen of the Committee to Study Things That Nobody Cares About yielded surprising yet, as always, unimportant news: Salads, smoothies, and other healthful foods are perceived by our taste buds to be more flavorful and satisfying when eaten in natural surroundings. The folks who funded these fictitious findings were fans of T.H.R.I.V.E., a raw/vegan restaurant located in the midst of the Garden Center in South Beach. There are a handful of lunches offered each day, including a daily bowl of cooked food and raw dishes. But one of three good reasons to eat here are the salads, with red, ripe tomatoes and other fresh produce — deliriously delicious when drizzled with tahini dressing. Smoothies ($6 to $7), whipped up with luscious local fruit, compose the second. Number three is the spacious and secluded dining patio, a green oasis in sync with the green food. And you don't need a committee to know that's the way it's supposed to be.
Florida International University Modesto A. Maidique Campus
Florida International University
Florida International University has really given its Modesto A. Maidique Campus a beefy, chickeny, and smoothie-y makeover. When it was University Park, there were just blue tables. Hungry, broke, and with limited options, everyone ate Pizza Hut bread sticks and smoked pack after pack of cigarettes. Now FIU has perfected the art of food-courtism, and by perfected we mean Chick-fil-A. Obviously, this delightful eatery is a place for which we pigs would drive many miles out of our way, even if to obtain only a single waffle fry. Opened last August, the new PG5 (as in parking garage) Market Station on the north side of campus is home to other food spots as well. There's Moe's Southwest Grill, where you can chomp on a burrito; Papa John's, with its artery-clogging-but-worth-it garlic sauce; Dunkin' Donuts for a caffeine kick; Salad Creations for a deep inner cleansing; and Freshens for some smoothie vitamins. This garage food court boasts seating for 300 people, parking for visitors, and Wi-Fi and television, perfect for zoning out over your spicy chicken biscuit.
Miami Tower
Tucked away in the shadows of the Miami Tower building is a quaint, colorful, brick-walked area that can be entered via four separate alleyways. In the center is a circle of some half-dozen eateries whose cuisines span the globe: Thai Angel, Habibi Mediterranean Grill, Pistou Bistro (casual French), Giovana Caffe (home-style Italian), Martini 28 (Asian/fusion), and Caprichos (Peruvian café/bakery). Outdoor tables at each place overlap a bit, and there are seats that run along the alleys. The court has a unique ambiance that can't be found anywhere else downtown — a cool, alternate oasis apart from the food chains that wrap up much of the lunchtime crowd.
Jimmy's Place II
Rain hits the windows at a staccato beat, like the trailing shots from a dying man's gun. At least this place should offer some shelter from the weather. I just hope they serve a good cup of joe. Looking at the menu makes me dizzy. Am I dreaming? While I was trying to shake those guys, did I somehow cross into Broward County? The busty Cubanita sitting in the booth across from me says otherwise: "No, papi. You esteel in Mi-yami." She looks away as if I'm nuts, and maybe I am. Meat loaf, collard greens, corn bread, mac and cheese, gravy — all for the crumpled face of Alexander Hamilton in my pocket, plus the quarter I found in the parking lot. I look around at the other booths. This reminds me of when I was just a freckle-faced punk back East, before I knew that women would do more damage than cigarettes and whiskey. After pouring a little something extra from the flask in my jacket pocket, I chug down the coffee the waitress with the mile-long stems brought. Mmmm, that's good. I start to feel alive again, and I order my dinner. The gringa waitress and the stacked Cubanita are exchanging looks. Let them — I'm gonna enjoy this.
Lifefood Gourmet
Fernanda Torcida
"I do not like green eggs and ham." What about raw eggs and "ham"? How about a shot of green, green, grass? Would you like that? Would you, I ask? How about some nacho "cheese"? What if I asked you, please? It's just so good for you, you see. When you eat straight from the tree. Pictures on the menu show which foods help your body glow. I saw what fed my brain and spine, and now I eat there all the time. Now for 20 bucks or less ,I don't feel like such a mess.
Zuma Contemporary Japanese Cuisine
billwisserphoto.com
Zuma roared into downtown Miami last year like some flashy Japanese Harley (zuma-zuma!). Everyone looked. First they saw the stunning Tokyo-inspired room, with soaring ceilings and a sleek merging of natural textures — granite, rice paper, Indonesian wood. Then they took in an open sushi counter that dishes market-fresh sashimi, nigiri, and maki. There was an open robata grill turning out pristine cuts of charcoal-licked meats, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. And how about the open kitchen, orchestrated by chef Bjoern Weissgerber, expertly cooking rice hotpots, rib eye steaks with wafu sauce, spicy lobster miso soup, and scallop tartare with fresh wasabi ponzu? Food was plated in a breathtakingly delicate and artistic fashion, and it tasted almost shockingly delectable. There was a sake bar that served some 60 varieties of the elixir (including the luscious biwa no choju, brewed exclusively for Zuma) and an outdoor terrace overlooking the Miami River. All in all, they saw one of the most exciting new restaurants to pull onto our streets in years. They came, they saw, and they could only sigh in admiration.
Jimmy'z Kitchen Wynwood
Photo by Rebecca Blanco
The original Jimmy'z Kitchen has long provided freshly cooked meals from its tiny, weathered location in a little, rickety strip mall on Alton Road in Miami Beach. The venue is easy to pass without noticing, which is probably why lots of SoBe natives don't even know it exists. But the new Jimmy'z, on the ground floor of the Cynergi Building in Wynwood, is different. It's hard to believe it's a spinoff of the Alton Road classic. The place is so bright, shiny, and colorful that it looks a bit like a fast-food chain, but this fare is cooked slowly, with care, and is packed with enormous flavor. The much-expanded menu includes panini, salads (the jerk chicken and mango ensemble is peerless), and amazingly gratifying main courses that run the global gamut from shrimp creole to steak frites to seared ahi tuna to country beef stew. Mofongo, the Puerto Rican ode to plantains, protein, and garlic, is among the best in town. Beverage selections are extensive as well — there's a wide array of soft drinks and craft beers, along with wines by the bottle and glass. Prices are more than fair – just about everything is under $20, and there are plenty of good eats for less than $10. About the only thing that isn't different about this new place is chef/owner Jimmy Carey, who earned his chops at Miami's great and long-departed Brasserie Le Coze (itself a spinoff of NYC's legendary Le Bernardin). His gastronomic savvy has gone about as unnoticed as the original Jimmy'z, but that won't be the case for long.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®