Dozens of Restaurants Lined Up in Battle for Doral

Two of Miami's largest real-estate development companies are facing off to see who can turn Doral from a drive-by traffic jam into a bustling, quasi-urban hub.

The first, the Shops at Downtown Doral, comes from Codina Partners and Lennar Commercial. It promises an outpost of Coral Gables' Bulla Gastrobar alongside the new concept Pisco y Nazca Ceviche & Gastrobar. Also on tap: Asian-fusion spot Dragonfly, a Pasión del Cielo coffee shop, Argentina's Freddo Helado, and a Giardino Salads. Las Vegas restaurant will offer the compulsory Cuban fare, while Stellino's will handle the Italian.

All told, the billion-dollar project on NW 87th Street at Doral Boulevard will offer 180,000 square feet of retail space. 

Just a few blocks east, on the other side of the ring, is CityPlace Doral. This 300,000-square-foot monstrosity is being handled by Jorge Pérez's Related Group. You know Pérez — his name is on downtown Miami's art museum. His petite bourgeoisie condos helped bomb Miami's economy and later re-inflate it with bolivars, reals, and pesos searching for a safe place to call home. He says Miami needs to be built for more than the global elite — while collecting millions of dollars in subsidies for building affordable housing. But I digress.

Early reports show that CityPlace will offer outposts of the Fresh Market, Burger & Beer Joint, and Sushi Siam among the 50 shops and restaurants slated to open in late 2015 or early 2016. Also expected to open are a CineBistro and Kings, a 20,000-square-foot bowling alley that will include bars, restaurants, and a private suite. Future tenants who have inked leases include popular restaurants Salsa Fiesta, Cooper's Hawk, Cabo Flats, and Pie Bar.  

The announcement of these two projects is a boon for Doral and all of West Miami-Dade. Residents there have long bemoaned a dearth of good eating options and the schlep (is there a Spanish-language equivalent for this word?) to the popular places on the east side of town. Finka Table & Tap has enjoyed much success in Doral, and last week I wrote about a small Peruvian sandwich spot — Mr. & Mrs. Bun — that's also being well received there. 

The main concern, however, is that these two complexes will turn into siblings of Mary Brickell Village. The outdoor retail complex in the heart of the city's urban core offers few quality, small businesses to the local community. There's OTC and My Ceviche, but there are too many chains.

Though prices are sure to be more reasonable in Doral, I fear landlords might tend toward high-paying, sure-thing tenants rather than upstarts fresh out of the kitchen of Michael's Genuine or DB Bistro Moderne. Downtown Doral's inclusion of Gables favorite Bulla is a hopeful sign that shouldn't stand alone.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson