You've finally 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 surfeit 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.
Barbarella at Dadeland Mall7535 N. Kendall Dr., Unit #2380, Miami
Sebastian Fernandez and Leslie Ames, the husband-and-wife duo best known in Miami for the much-missed Coconut Grove establishment 33 Kitchen, opened this Mediterranean bistro, named after the movie and for their 16-year-old daughter, who signed on as a busser. Menu items include pan con tomate topped with white anchovies ($9); roasted beets prepared with Greek yogurt, za'atar, glazed pecans, and mint ($14); a spicy pancetta pizza topped with mozzarella, calabrese peppers, pomodoro sauce, and honey ($14); and pappardelle tossed with littleneck clams and white wine garlic sauce. The small restaurant achieves social distancing by setting up tables six feet apart on an outdoor terrace.
Earls Kitchen + Bar at Dadeland Mall7535 N. Kendall Dr., Unit 2510, Miami
Earls serves a wide range of items, from American classics like 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.
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, including 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 immersed in a world of fresh sushi in gorgeous surroundings. This upscale restaurant also offers robata dishes and specialities like Japanese risotto ($24).
Marabú at Brickell City Centre701 S. Miami Ave., Miami
Paying homage to Cuba's culture and heritage, Marabú boats a central bar serving Havana-inspired cocktails (try the Marabu mojito, made with guava), as well as an outdoor pergola, drawing inspiration from cities such as Camagüey and Viñales. Chef Alberto Cabrera offers Cuban favorites like croquetas, vaca frita, and charred octopus, but items cooked in a Josper charcoal oven are outstanding. Order half a rotisserie chicken ($22), a sharable lechón asado ($42), or try the tasado, a salt-cured short rib ($40), in which the beef literally melts in your mouth.
Ornos Estiatorio at Aventura Mall19565 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura
Michael Mina's fourth Miami-area restaurant is a stunning homage to the Mediterranean. The dining room is decorated in neutral colors with accents the color of the sea from which comes much of the restaurant's seafood. The menu offers a full raw bar and fresh fish, wheeled to your table and described in detail by the restaurant's own fish sommelier. Classic Greek dishes such as lemon chicken, tzatziki, and hummus round out the experience.
Pani at Aventura Mall19501 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 940, Aventura
This whimsical bistro in Aventura Mall's outdoor restaurant area is the perfect break from shopping. The robin's-egg-blue restaurant is lit by giraffes holding crystal light fixtures in their mouths. The restaurant offers various ways to rewind from the terrors of bargain hunting — from a perfect espresso martini to afternoon tea service. A full menu offers salads, sandwiches, and more but Pani's cakes — displayed in a jewel case at the front of the dining room — are a must-have. These outrageous creations are served in supersized slices large enough to share. Try the piña colada mooncake with a pineapple and coconut cream cheese frosting and mango topping ($12), or the kat flora ($15), a traditional Argentinian sweet tart made with sweet potato paste, dulce de leche, cream cheese, and Kit Kat bars.
Swan in the Design District90 NE 39th St., Miami
Technically not a mall, the Design District 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 meal for some much-needed fuel. David Grutman and Pharrell Williams' swanky restaurant, Swan, is the perfect spot to fuel up on a chicken Cobb salad or blackened tuna tacos. The restaurant also offers shareable pizzas and a short rib for two. If lunch without cocktails is unthinkable, try a lychee mule or the restaurant's signature libation, the "Swan," made with Santa Teresa rum, curaçao, lychee, chamomile, and lemon.
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.
Texas de Brazil at Dolphin Mall11401 NW 12th St., Miami
Texans have few rivals when it comes to their love for 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.
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