The first time Zoila Castro sank her teeth into a cheeseburger, she was hooked. The year was 1991, and Castro and her family had just relocated from Guayaquil, Ecuador, to suburban Los Angeles. The burger was a double chili
About five years later, the family relocated to Miami. For years, they ran downtown Miami's K.C. Café. The open-air walk-up joint (which is still open and run by her mother-in-law) was as eclectic as Miami itself. On any weekday, one table could be covered with cheeseburgers,
"We love eating meatloaf, and now my dad always asks the chef to make him lamb shank, pot roast, or beef roast," Vita says.
Yet there's no meatloaf on the menu here, nor is there pot roast or a Thanksgiving platter most Jersey-style diners offer throughout the year. If you're from New Jersey (as I am), this could be a bitter pill to swallow, but I'm not angry. Most northerners demand their diners be overseen by a couple of gruff Greeks sporting healthy tans and glinting gold crosses. If you've ever spent time carousing the diners of northern New Jersey, you know one thing: They're not strict. They were one of the last places you were permitted to smoke indoors, and many are run by immigrants. That means each diner is a blend of its owners' native cuisine with a postcard of culinary Americana.
That's what you get at Miami Breeze, and there's plenty more to be excited about: an extensive breakfast menu offering country fried steak and eggs ($14), biscuits and gravy ($7), and an omelet packed with grilled onions and Nova Scotia smoked salmon ($11). At lunchtime, find an extensive array of burgers and sandwiches. Think grilled cheese with sun-dried tomato aioli ($8) and a chili burger ($12) (in homage to Tommy's) slathered with the spicy stuff along with plenty of American cheese, chopped onions, and mustard.
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There are ample Miami-centric options, such as skirt steak marinated in chimichurri ($17) and breakfast hash folded with lechón
So perhaps Miami Breeze isn't a perfect Jersey diner. But it's a damn good example of what a Miami diner is. The only thing they need to do is serve their mashed potatoes with more butter and extend their hours to at least 3 a.m. That's when those chili cheese fries really come in handy.
Miami Breeze Diner is located at 3032 Biscayne Blvd. and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call 786-391-0697.