You've beaten your way through the crowds and secured your coveted holiday shopping payload. Your mission was a success, and now you're famished. But — gasp — you're at a mall! There's nothing to eat except the usual chain food. There has to be something better. And there is.
Miami-area malls and shopping centers offer a surplus of good restaurants. From the megamalls out west to the upscale retail districts near the beach, here's a list of the best places to eat while you do your holiday shopping.
American Girl Bistro at the Falls8888 SW 136th St., Suite 395A, Miami
OK, this place ain’t exactly gourmet, but it’s the kind of delightfully bonkers dining experience that demands consideration. This place is made for the girliest of little girls. Everything, from the walls to the menus, is pink. The food is fun-size — think mini hot dogs and cupcakes served on lace doilies. Cutest yet strangest of all, you are encouraged to dine with American Girl dolls, either ones you purchased in the adjacent boutique or temporary companions you can choose upon being seated, each receiving their own tiny teacup and saucer for you to take home. They stare at you with a loving, steady gaze while you nibble your miniature hamburger. The experience is basically one big tea party. What’s not to love?
Earls Kitchen + Bar at Dadeland Mall7535 N. Kendall Dr., Unit 2510, Miami
Earls serves a wide range of items, from American classics such as burgers and steaks to trendy items like poke. But take a look at its website, and you'll see this place is huge in Canada. The chain has taken over the western provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, with dozens of locations in major cities such as Vancouver and Calgary. There’s even one all the way in the Yukon. Clearly, Earls is doing something right.
Texas de Brazil at Dolphin Mall11401 NW 12th St., Sweetwater
Texans rival few in terms of their love of steak. Few, that is, if you leave out the entire population of Brazil. Instead of taking this rivalry to a duel, the two camps can coexist seamlessly at this Texas-Brazilian steakhouse. Carvers greet you at the table with grilled offerings of beef, lamb, pork, chicken, and Brazilian sausages before escorting you to the accompaniment area, where you'll find more than 50 appetizers, soups, and salads that represent both locales. Top off the experience with a signature Brazilian cocktail, the caipirinha.
Le Zoo at Bal Harbour Shops9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour
Restaurateur Stephen Starr has brought a bit of Paris to Bal Harbour with Le Zoo. His French brasserie serves authentic bistro cuisine such as veal Milanese and escargots with Chartreuse-spiked hazelnut butter. Maybe you can't afford to buy that Chanel handbag, but you can splurge on a second glass of rosé.
Makoto at Bal Harbour Shops9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour
Stephen Starr doubles down on real estate at the luxe Bal Harbour Shops with Makoto, where you'll find yourself seated before a glacial-looking block of pink Himalayan sea salt. A verdant leaf is laid on top, and soon a chef presents your wasabi and pickled ginger. Request omakase for an extraordinary dining experience — in a mall no less.
Sakaya Kitchen in Midtown Miami3401 N. Miami Ave., Miami
Before your Target run, stop by Richard Hales' Sakaya Kitchen for a fast-casual meal of Asian fare such as Filipino egg rolls, Japanese miso soup, Vietnamese bao (steamed buns), and a predominance of Korean street foods such as kimchee, bulgogi wraps, and spicy chicken wings. All items are made from scratch, including the curing of meats, pickling of vegetables, and preparation of ssams, ssamjangs, and such. There's a cool selection of sakes, indoor/outdoor seating, and a friendly vibe.
Swan in the Design District90 NE 39th St., Miami
Technically not a mall, the Design District still qualifies as a destination where the well-heeled shop for luxury goods. All of that Gucci and Dior can make a person hungry, and there's nothing like a midday brunch for some much-needed fuel. But where can you find eggs and mimosas on a Tuesday? David Grutman and Pharrell Williams' swanky restaurant, Swan, has made its weekend brunch a daily affair. With dishes ranging from $11 to $42, the menu offers breakfast items such as baked eggs with stracciatella, tomato, pickled peppers, chilies, and grilled filone (traditional Italian bread); a ham and truffle omelet with crisp potatoes; and coconut pancakes with banana ice cream and maple syrup. The menu of mains includes caviar pasta, chicken paillard, and the Swan burger, with Comté cheese, aioli, and fries. Special brunch libations are also available. Brunch is served Monday through Friday from noon to 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tacology at Brickell City Centre701 S. Miami Ave., Miami
Next time you go out for tacos, it should be a place that uses fresh ingredients that taste great. Tacology is exactly that kind of place, combining the activity and authenticity of a Mexican market with the convenience of a lively stateside restaurant. Here you’ll find not only tuna and mushroom tacos on tortillas made from non-GMO corn but also grab-and-go breakfast in the morning and alcoholic beverages such as tequila and margaritas after work.
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Treats Food Hall at Aventura Mall19501 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 069, Aventura
The city-like Aventura Mall offers a host of restaurants that fare better than the usual mall fodder. Treats Food Hall, located on the mall's top tier, offers a range of options, including Luke's Lobster, Shake Shack, and Guy Fieri's new Chicken Guy! Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday noon to 8 p.m.
Zinburger at Sawgrass MillsNext to Bloomingdale's, 1800 Sawgrass Mills Cir., Sunrise
Navigating the labyrinth of shops and stalls at Sawgrass can be taxing on the body and mind. Once you’ve had enough shopping, venture outside to Zinburger for a truly deluxe beef and cheese sandwich. Choose from the chain’s many mouthwatering options — such as the fire-roasted-jalapeño-and-pepper-jack-cheese El Diablo or a delectable take on the classic French dip — or customize your own. For an extra $5, you can upgrade your patty to Kobe beef or an Angus/prime-rib blend.