Restaurante Monserrate

Arturo Lopez has been bringing Colombian food to Miamians since 1974. This, the third locale of his Monserrate Restaurant (the other two are in Doral), brings the food closer to Coral Gables. Housed in a large space mostly devoid of décor save for a colorful mural on one wall, Monserrate has a full menu of Colombian favorites - and we're not talking about overdressed hot dogs. The fare consists of hearty Colombian comfort foods and is broken down into soups, meat, fish, chicken, and pork. Soups include mondongo (tripe soup) and sancocho de res (a stew-like soup with beef). Meat and fish offerings are straightforward: whole fried fish, brisket with rice and plantains, and grilled chicken. The best dishes are the house and daily specials. If you're hungry, bandeja paisa ($8.95) - rice, red beans, ground beef, pork rinds, an arepa, and plantains - will leave you more than satisfied. Daily specials include ajiaco ($7.50), a popular potato-based soup, on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On Fridays, try the sancocho de gallina ($7.50). And to start, don't forget to order an empanada, a meat-filled cornmeal turnover, for only 95 cents.