Keep it simple, stupid. Words to live by when it comes to food, especially the classic lunch combo of a soup and sandwich. This pair of places answers the question "What should I have for lunch?", serving up bread with fix-ins and blends in bowls in their finest forms. Try one, or if you're hungry, scarf both.
Pommes & Pane (3348 Virginia street, Coconut Grove; (305) 774-6696): Word of mouth propels this neighborhood dive bar owned by Dutchman Olav Smit. A staff of two turn out droves of lunch-worthy grub that won't weigh you down, including daily hot plate and soup specials (blended pea, carrot, and chili con carne are standouts for $4.25.) But his sandwiches are the anchor. Try the "Turkey & Cheese" ($5.45) with everything i.e. Boar's Head honey turkey, Gouda cheese from Holland, shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomato and red onion, mayonnaise, and yellow mustard panini-pressed between white or wheat hoagie bread. From Cusano's Bakery in Davie, this is, quite possibly, the perfected sandwich roll: size, texture, and taste off the charts. In case you were wondering, the secret and essential ingredient in "Boiled Egg & Tomato" ($4.50) is a soy-style sauce from Maggi. "Warm Beef (Philly style)" comes with the traditional peppers and onions ($6.75) and the "Palomilla Steak Sandwich" ($7.25) brings the addictive, airway-clearing burn of horseradish. The place locals call "Olav's", a fixture since March 2002, is also open for breakfast where eggs in all their forms rule on toast -- any time of the day, too. Stop in for happy hour Monday through Friday, 7- 9 p.m.
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Café Demetrio (300 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables; (305) 448-4949) For those who work in downtown Gables, Café Demetrio, est. 1997, is a caffeinated staple for the 3:00 p.m. slump. But this 18th century European-style coffee house -- built on the old stomping grounds of the area's oldest newspaper -- is way more café than its cinnamon-dusted cappuccinos and castle-like architecture. Daily specials of velvety soups ($3.95) like carrot, spinach, and asparagus are plated up to order with not a touch of grease, luxurious without being heavy nor needing dairy for body. Delicate sandwiches are held together by great bread; you won't encounter a French baguette here, but something less dense, with still enough crusty outside and chewy inside. Although expensive, the "Three Cheese" ($7.50) is worth the splurge with its surprisingly light marriage of melted mozzarella, muenster, and Swiss cheese, with a side of sliced tomato, romaine, and yellow mustard -- perfect for jamming inside the toasty, gooey seal. Check in for Demetrio's live music schedule or challenge your strategy skills in the chess room.