Neighborhood Joints

Miami Shores Dining: A Scene Is Evolving

Miami Shores -- the land of the upper middle class, suburbans and a design savvy gay community is a coveted location for any house-hunter with a healthy bit of coin. The town boasts its own community center, golf course, Country Club, aquatics center, movie theater by O Cinema and a priceless view of Biscayne Bay.

But what it lacks -- a bustling downtown food scene -- seems to be somewhat of a conundrum since all signs point to a successful dining district: wealthy residents who like to eat out, check; centrally located, check; a thriving gay community, check. So why are there only a few places to grab some grub?

One simple answer: sewers. We don't like talking sewage with our eats, so let's keep this short and sweet. Bottom line: it is almost impossible to get Miami Dade County to approve a restaurant with the existing septic systems in Miami Shores buildings because they are almost all at full capacity or are too old.

Jesse Walters, executive director of the Greater Miami Shores Chamber of Commerce Miami Shores, says the city is working to improve the sewer system to be more attractive to restaurants adding "though there is little information yet available to the public, the goal is to get something finalized by 2014." Looking forward, The Chamber of Commerce recognizes that the best and most realistic use of Miami Shores' downtown is a combination of restaurants, art galleries, and antique stores.

Sewer setbacks aside, there are a few restaurants making it work. In fact, the only restaurant to close in Miami Shores in 2011 and 2012 was the Village Café and that was due to the owner's health. The location re-opened as Pizza Fiore.

Also open in Miami Shores is Cote Gourmet which lures a respectable crowd serving gourmet French, as well as the Miami Shores Country Club, which was touted by local foodies Giselle Kovac and Patricia Wong who say the place is on the upswing though they added the spot could use a young hot-shot boulevard chef to pump some life into the place.

The minds behind a new restaurant coming to Downtown Village Square (formerly the Bennett Building and home of Mooie's ice cream parlor) are still unknown, but we know they will be sharing a kitchen and liquor license with a space next door, which we assume was planned to mean less overhead-- a smart move as far as we're concerned! Cuisine at the corner location is said to be Asian inspired with the adjacent spot featuring American Comfort Food, opening date is unknown but said to be sometime around March 2013.

And then there are the food stands who have skirted past the whole sewer obstacle by not operating as a full service restaurant. Norberto's Deli's closing brought dismay to many in the community. Luckily, for those who worried where they would get their meat-fix, the spot was sold to another butcher -- the folks behind Proper Sausages -- which should be open for business around the new year. They are planning to move their popular farmer's market product to a brick and mortar shop, which they say "is the dream of anyone selling at the markets". Other food shops include The Village Stand which sells an eclectic mix of hand-picked local specialty foods and Enchanting Creations which makes "sugar art" in the form of cakes, cookies, cupcakes and assorted pastries.

Occupancy is now 80 percent in downtown Miami Shores, higher if you count only street level space. The Chamber wants to fill in the remaining gaps with more dining and shopping options, and feels that adding sewers in these seven blocks will accomplish these goals. With the sewer problem solved, a strong demand from residents and a central location, downtown Miami Shores has the potential to become the next name in dining.

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Jen Mangham
Contact: Jen Mangham