Like most people, Miamians are drawn to shiny, new restaurants. Sure, there are gems in obvious places, but we're here to highlight the lesser-known spots -- the places without big-name publicists and trendy menus. They simply serve great food.
Here are the ten best restaurants that consistently serve the tastiest eats in town that you've probably overlooked.
See also: Miami's Ten Best Hidden Gems
10. Frenchie's Diner
French food may bring to mind frilly, fussy, and fancy fare. However, Frenchie's is something very different. It has a distinctly American diner twist. It serves on-point French food in a fun and comfortable environment. The duck confit ($29) and the escargots ($10) rival those at any bistro, but without the snooty service.
Along the Miami River, there's the never-ending freshly cracked drama of Seasalt & Pepper and the history of Garcia's, so Casablanca can easily be overlooked. It might not appear as lovely from the outside, but the seafood and the views should reel you in. This restaurant and fish market has a lot to offer. Try the paella Casablanca ($28). It comes loaded with shrimp, scallops, calamari, mussels, clams, chicken, and chorizo mixed with saffron rice.
Miami has no shortage of Italian restaurants, but once you remove the high-end ones and the Argentine-influenced ones, you're left with very few. Primo falls into this category. It offers everything a neighborhood Italian joint should: homemade pasta and a sense of family (husband, wife, and teenage son all work there); the family story is even printed on the menu. Fresh pastas include homemade gnocchi, ravioli, and lasagna; top them with your choice of simmering sauce. Your food will come out piping-hot and made with love.
Miami has tons of good Cuban food, but Molina's in Hialeah is a notch above the rest. It consistently delivers high-quality eats. And the multipage menu is so large that local abogados advertise in it. While you peruse the list, order the tostones rellenos de camarones ($12). This irresistible dish features shrimp stuffed into little edible baskets made with tostones. Service isn't quick, so take your time deciding between the lechón asado and the vaca frita.
Forget the yellow brick road; follow Coral Way. At an arepa bar, it's hard to think outside the crisp goodness of an arepa, but at Doggi's, try another Venezuelan delicacy. The cachapa ($8.49) is best with its semisweet corn pancake filled with queso de mano. As for the arepas: The varieties seem endless, so grab a seat and try a bunch.
5. Fish Fish
Strip malls are ideal places to find underrated restaurants, and Fish Fish in North Miami is no exception. It isn't trying to be fashionable or fancy; it simply serves delicious food and dishes you haven't seen on menus since the '90s. You can get whole fish crispy style, deconstructed grilled caesar salads ($12), and baked Alaska for dessert. People who scoff and try to be cool will miss out on this scrumptious food.
Burger love resonates throughout this city, and everyone has a place that charbroils their heart. If you want a place off the beaten path that won't cost more than $20 for a patty and will leave you awestruck, head to JR's. The most underrated burger in town is the Outside Is In ($7.99), whose patty has cheddar cheese inside it and crisp bacon piled on top. Pair that tasty piece of artwork with sweet-potato fries dusted with cinnamon and brown sugar for a fall favorite.
3. Bali Café
Anywhere in Miami where you can get a six-course meal for $17 is worth celebrating. For the best deal in downtown dining, get a little taste of Bali. Rijsttafel is an elaborate Indonesian meal that's not to be missed. Highlights of the feast include tender chunks of coriander-spiced beef rendang, and por ayam -- chicken legs braised slowly in rich coconut milk.
Comfort food wasn't made to be fancy, yet so many local restaurants proffer it at premium prices. For some of the finest comfort food in a casual setting, head to Crackers. It serves country-fried heart and soul such as deep-fried bread pudding and a fried chicken sammich ($7.50). The rule at Crackers is that whatever you order, spread some of the signature bacon jam on it.
Few restaurants are as exciting as Nemesis. The coolness ranges from a picture of Amy Winehouse on the wall to upside-down umbrellas on the ceiling to kangaroo or ostrich carpaccio ($15) on the plate. Chef Micah Edelstein has perfected dishes and desserts with a perspective all her own. Sip a glass of wine from her native South Africa and bite into a steak dinner that excites with lamb bacon and a duck egg. The happiest of endings are desserts like warm malva pudding and the Willy Wonka sampler.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst
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