Neighborhood Joints

Noa Café in Wynwood Is a Hidden Gem of a Lunch Spot

The 30-something gentleman leaning against the counter said it best: "Such a cute little place. I'm so glad I found it," he told the waiter. Sporting a newsboy cap, a T-shirt, and jeans, he hummed along to UB40's "Red Red Wine" while waiting to grab his take-out from Noa Café.

It was lunchtime, and the hole-in-the-wall eatery in Wynwood was brimming with business folks. A table of four suits didn't seem eager to return to work as they waved goodbye to chef-owner Adi Kafri in the open-air kitchen. It's easy to see why: Kafri's uncontrived cuisine is filling, and they had ordered the decadent flourless chocolate cake.

See also: Mmmm to Open in Wynwood

Kafri refers to the pintsize café as her baby, because Noa is first and foremost a food catering company for events. It's also the reason Noa is open only for lunch during the week. Could this explain why I hadn't heard about this gem until last week?

Perhaps what's most amazing about this 2-year-old café is how reasonably priced it is given the amount of care put into each dish. The most expensive item is a $14.95 grilled 12-ounce New York strip steak. The generous salads are $10.95, and the focaccia sandwiches cost $8.95.

Though my friendly waiter suggested the vodka cheese ravioli with salmon ($14) from the list of daily specials, I opted for the Middle Eastern mezze plate ($10.95). I assumed the mezze would be good considering Kafri is from Israel, and, more important, the falafel was calling out to me.

As I had hoped, the fried chickpea balls were crisp rather than greasy and had a pronounced parsley taste I couldn't get enough of. The rest of the colorful plate featured fresh organic greens, whole-wheat pita bread, lightly grilled veggies, and homemade hummus and tahini. The clean flavors played off one another brilliantly, and I savored each vibrant bite.

Taking a cue from the office crowd before me, I succumbed to the flourless chocolate cake. Each rich, velvety morsel sent me into a deeper food coma, leaving me with only one thought: Noa, I'm so happy I finally found you.

Follow Valeria Nekhim on Twitter @ValeriaNekhim

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Valeria Nekhim was born in the Ukraine and raised in Montreal. She has lived in Manhattan and Miami. Her favorite part of food writing is learning the stories of chefs and restaurateurs.