Best Restaurant in Coconut Grove

Lulu

We all love Lulu — at least those of us old enough to remember her tearfully singing, "How do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?" to Sidney Poitier in To Sir With Love. Huh? Oh. Yes, of course. It goes without saying that we also all love Lulu the restaurant — operated by the team behind the Grove's number one meeting spot, GreenStreet. In fact, it is located right across the street from that landmark eatery and is something of a smaller, cozier version with the same mission: to provide a sidewalk café environment where locals can gather for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch — and lollygag over cocktails, wine (all bottles $25, all glasses $8), and value-driven cuisine. They call it "neighborfood," which means sandwiches of fried green tomatoes and apple-wood-smoked bacon ($11); shrimp tacos ($15); hamburgers, and patties culled from turkey, pork, and brown rice/black beans too ($12 to $15). Entrées likewise lean toward popular American classics: rotisserie chicken with French fries ($18); truffled mac and cheese ($13); and chimichurri churrasco ($20). We all love Lulu, which is why its tables have been packed since opening day. Wonder what became of that other Lulu?
Route 9
Michael McElroy
It is a labor of love born from a love story: Jeremy and Paola Goldberg met while they were students at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. After years of earning their stripes in other people's restaurants, the couple serendipitously ended up in Miami and opened a place of their own — located in Coral Gables and named for the highway that swoops by their alma mater. Jeremy helms the dining room, Paola is the chef, and the restaurant serves fresh, home-cooked fare. The concise menu includes charcuterie and cheese plates ($13), soups and salads ($6 to $9), small plates ($6 to $13), main plates ($14 to $23), and sides ($6). There are sticky chicken wings, burrata cheese with fig preserves, and entrées such as prosciutto-wrapped pork loin, and flank steak with grilled romaine hearts and blue cheese vinaigrette. Each plate, of course, is likewise loaded with love. The waitstaff here is excellent, and service is about as good as it gets: personable, knowledgeable, efficient, and professionally trained. Those years spent managing restaurants evidently served the Goldbergs well.
Yakko-San
Photo courtesy of Yakko-San
Hiro's by the numbers:

3881: The Tokyo-style izakaya's new address on NE 163rd Street — bigger and far less cramped than the former location.

11: Categories on the menu — soups, rice, noodles, tempura, grill, etc.

100: Minimum number of items to choose from on any given night.

13: Vegetable offerings, most of which you won't see anywhere else, such as fermented natto in toasted tofu skin.

5 to 20: Place a dollar sign before each and that's the price range.

23: Noodle dishes, such as kimchi ramen, curry udon, and noodles in spicy codfish roe sauce.

3: In the morning, which is the closing hour.

7: Days a week.
Anacapri
Gustavo Ribero came to Miami from Bolivia when he was 14 years old. That is also the age when he began working in the restaurant industry. When Gustavo reached college age, he headed off with dreams of becoming... a doctor. Then, somehow, he came to his senses and realized that cooking was more fun. Plus he decided it was his calling, so Ribero attended Johnson & Wales University and grabbed a gig at Marriott. He followed that by helping to open Bizcaya at the Ritz-Carlton in Coconut Grove. A few years later, his brother-in-law Giuseppe, the proprietor of Anacapri in Coral Gables, hired Gustavo as chef. Two more Anacapri restaurants would follow, including our favorite Pinecrest venue — and the rest, as they say, is pasta e fagioli ($5.99)... and linguine carbonara ($14.99), chicken cacciatore ($18.99), veal piccata ($22.99), and shrimp alla francese ($24.99). Plus there's a wide array of other pastas, meats, soups, salads, and appetizers in large family portions and at eminently affordable prices. Adjacent to the handsome and casual restaurant is an Italian market where you can load up on imported meats, cheeses, pastas, and other Italian delicacies.
Sparky's should really be called "Sparky's & Sparky's," because the two chef/owners gave each other the nickname while cooking together years ago. "Slow down, take your time. You're probably only going back to work," goes their motto, and if you're beginning to get the idea that these guys are characters, let's make it clear they are characters with enviable barbecue skills (one Sparky went to the Culinary Institute of America). "Low and slow" cooking over hickory and apple wood brings out the best in baby-back pork, beef brisket, chicken thighs, and pulled pork shoulder. Sandwiches are stuffed with the aforementioned meats ($6.95 to $8.50), on grilled rolls with coleslaw and waffle fries. The same choices arrive on platters ($8.95 to $12.95) with pick of two sides (slaw, fries, mac and cheese, stewed collard greens, and baked beans). Spark your thirst with any of a dozen microbrews ($3 to $4.50) from Maryland (Flying Dog's In-Heat Wheat) to Minnesota (Horizon Red Ale) to home (Florida's own Native Lager). If you crave great barbecue and come here to eat, know that Sparky's will deliver. And if you work in the downtown area but can't make it out of the office, know that Sparky's will deliver.
B.O.'s Fish Wagon
"No shirt, no shoes, no problem," reads one sign in this open-air fish shack. The lack of strict dress code might have to do with B.O. having started out as a wagon on Duval Street some 25 years ago. "Cold beer sold here," reads another, and it's true — the bottles are kept in ice-filled coolers. Right there you've got two-thirds of B.O.'s allure. The final and most definitive reason for heading here is the food: fresh, simple, delicious, and relatively cheap, as a fish wagon should be. The house signature is the cracked conch sandwich: thin strips fried and, like all sandwiches here, dressed in key lime dressing and slipped into soft Cuban bread with lettuce, tomato, and sliced onion ($12.50). Fried grouper, shrimp, and fish du jour sandwiches are equally satisfying ($9.50 to $12.50, a dollar extra if grilled). Dinners, served 4 to 9 p.m., showcase same seafood selections but with choice of two sides; select the fresh-cut fries, which just might be worth the drive alone. Although we recommend the fish here, many fans swear by BOMF's half-pound burger ($9) — BOMF standing for "Buddy Owen's Mother's Finest." Buddy is the owner. Next time you're in Key West, head to the corner of Caroline and William streets and say hello to him at his very excellent little restaurant.
Prime 112
Photo by Gary James / Courtesy of Carma PR
In 1915, the year Miami Beach became a city, the Browns Hotel was the number one hot spot — the only place to be. In fact, excepting a nearby bungalow (since demolished) called Joe's Stone Crab, it was literally the only place to be, hot or otherwise. A "modernization" in the '30s buried the Browns under yucky stucco, but the original pine was still sturdy. A challenging restoration by architect Allan Shulman (the house was moved back 13 feet from the sidewalk so the original porch could be returned) was followed by a gorgeous, contemporary saloon-like renovation by interior designer Alison Antrobus — and the Browns reopened in January 2004 as Prime One Twelve, a modern, upscale steak house by Myles Chefetz. The restaurant's lush steaks and flush financial stakes have since become stuff of legend. But part of the success no doubt lies in the warm, intimate, yet invigorating ambiance. Wooden plank floors, exposed brick columns, and champagne leather-upholstered chairs add charm to the two-story, multiroom dining house. And nearly a century after the debut of the Browns, D-Wade chose Prime One Twelve as the place to watch LeBron's nationally televised "Decision." This is still the number one hot spot.
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Photo courtesy of Genuine Hospitality Group
"It sells pretty good," says Todd Webster, the man who butchers much of the meat at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. "We braise them for about four to six hours, cut them into thin pieces, and fry them until they're nice and crispy on the outside." "They're a pretty popular bar snack," echoes Travis Starwalt, sous chef at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. We braise them... slice them thin, dust them in flour, fry them, and toss them in our house-made barbecue spice." Michael's began serving them about a year ago, offering the crunchy bites as a snack seasoned with spice mix ($6) or atop an arugula salad with shaved radish and red onion, dressed in sweet lime vinaigrette ($8). Sugarcane offers them with a wedge of lemon ($4). "People will order one, and then they'll order another one. It's perfect for people hanging out at the bar and having a beer or cocktail," Travis concludes, and at this point we're all ears.
Quattro Gastronomia Italiana
It was August 2006 when chefs Nicola and Fabrizio Carro, identical twins from the Piedmont region, introduced their exquisite Northern Italian fare at Quattro in Miami Beach. One can never have too many chefs imported from Italy. On the other hand, a saturation point exists for restaurants imported from New York — especially when said restaurant's big-name chef lets his name do more work here than his body. More to the point: The Manhattan-to-Miami restaurant exchange has been one-sided for too long. So when our own hometown Quattro opened a sister establishment in New York (in the Trump SoHo no less!), it made a statement of sorts: Miami's dining scene is growing up fast, and it might not be fitting into the Big Apple's hand-me-downs for long.
Dolci Peccati
Alex Broadwell
Dolci Peccati bills itself as the "sweetest truck on the road," and that's true in every sense of the word. Not only was it one of the first all-dessert trucks to hit the road in Miami, but also its 20-something twin co-owners are among the friendliest mobile proprietors around. The Yepes sisters are all smiles in Hello Kitty aprons as they serve small but satisfying portions of the creamy gelato they make in modest batches every day. Every flavor is creamy and dense, as gelato should be, with the underlying boldness of component ingredients. Mint-chocolate chip, for instance, explodes with spearmint flavor, while cookies and cream melts with a rich vanilla finish. Of course, there are all the usual gelato flavors, such as pistachio and hazelnut, but the sisters whip up new combinations, like chocolate-blood orange, to mark special occasions or simple changes in whimsy. Meanwhile, their signature garnish is a special sweet-savory balsamic sauce most popular over strawberry and other fruit flavors.A small, approximately three-quarter-cup serving ($3) packs a lot of flavor, so it's almost guilt-free, although a large ($4.50) won't set you up to go for caloric broke either. Larger take-out containers are available for $8 and up, but you'll want to hurry home with those — the frozen goodness, like so many other amazing things in life, doesn't hold up well over time.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®