Cheap Eats

Miami's Ten Best Lunches Under $10

Taquiza's blue corn quesadilla with squash blossoms and chihuahua cheese.
Taquiza's blue corn quesadilla with squash blossoms and chihuahua cheese. Photo courtesy of Steve Santana

Lunch is an oasis, a respite from the insanity of the everyday. Its magic is felt in the deep calm washing over you during and after your meal. Europeans know how to do it. Many of them close up shop in the afternoon and then head to their favorite spot for a sizable repast and a carafe or two of wine.

So abandon the self-destructive habit of eating a mediocre, solitary lunch. Is there anything sadder than a dry turkey sandwich?

There's no shortage of excellent lunches in Miami. You need only stop at Edge Steak & Bar for a sampling of Aaron Brooks' lunch break, a $24, three-course affair that changes weekly. Nearby, at Niven Patel's Ghee Indian Kitchen in the Design District, chef Pushkar Marathe dishes out a spectacular tiffin, a kind of Indian bento box, with a fragrant combination of rice, vegetables, pickles, and optional meat for $18.

A decent meal from a good old greasy spoon is becoming ever rarer.

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But if such prices are too steep for you, try these choices for solid lunches that cost $10 or less.

Courtesy of Proper Sausages

1. Sausage and Peppers at Proper Sausages. Freddy Kaufmann doesn't compromise. Hence, this Miami Shores butcher shop is the obsession of home and professional cooks alike. From the bounty of house-made sausages and bacon to the eggs, duck fat, and even spices, the shop carries everything to fill the discerning cook's pantry. Yet at lunchtime, it's all about the chalkboard list of sandwiches held to a higher standard. The highlight is the sausage and peppers ($9), with your choice of any of Kaufmann's sausages, from the handmade chorizo to the classic with garlic and sage, tucked into a fluffy Portuguese bun. While you're eating it, take note of everything else on the board, like the BLT ($9), the fried chicken turkey burger ($10), and the barbecued tongue ($10). 9722 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores; 786-334-5734;

Photo by Alexandra Rincon

2. Goat roti at L.C. Roti Shop. It's amazing that after you visit this iconic Trinidadian spot only a few times, its gregarious matriarch remembers your name and order. Be sure to lock in the goat roti ($10). First, watch in awe as a lump of dough is stretched, pulled, and grilled until it's thin and burnished. Then comes a heap of fragrant curried potatoes in a thick pale-yellow sauce with an intoxicating fragrance that fills the room. The chunks of tender goat are supple with the fatty richness of bacon and a sweet gaminess found in few creatures. Dab it with a few hits of L.C.'s house pepper sauce, and spend your meal trying to fend off the urge to order a round of the fried, spiced dough balls called pholourie. 19505 NW Second Ave., Miami Gardens; 305-651-8924.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF LA POLLITA
Courtesy of La Pollita

3. Fried chicken sandwich at La Pollita. Tacos are the speciality of this pintsize operation that recently relocated from Edgewater to the Design District, but the fried chicken sandwich ($10) should not be missed. It's a simple creation: an über-juicy, crackly, fried chicken thigh on a puffy sesame bun with piquant slaw, avocado, and a hot-sauce aioli. Get it while you can. La Pollita's owners, Alex Meyer and Luci Giangrandi, who have done time in the kitchens of Eleven Madison Park and the Los Angeles standout Animal, are surely planning something bigger. 160 NE 41st St., Miami;

Photo by Zachary Fagenson

4. Pan con lechón at the Butcher Shop. Down in Palmetto Bay, a pagoda of pig has been lorded over by Angel Torres for nearly four decades. Though fixings for any craving can be found in its steamer tables, it's the pan con lechón ($2.99 small, $5.99 large) that keeps patrons returning. Torres' customers chew through about 200 pounds of mojo-braised pig studded with onions and crisp skin daily. But all of that seems insignificant when you learn this place bakes its own bread. It creates a sandwich that, when pressed, crisps into an impossibly thin crust. The interior holds its juice, propped up by a shot of doctored mojo sauce he calls "mojito," which is also available in a squirt bottle on the counter where you sit and devour. 14235 S. Dixie Hwy., Palmetto Bay; 305-253-9525.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF STANZIONE 87
Courtesy of Stanzione 87

5. Margherita pizza at Stanzione 87. Neapolitan pizzas today have an unshakable grip on Miami, and for good reason. When made by a dedicated pizzaiolo, a traditional pie, held to the exacting standards codified by the European Union, is a thing of beauty. There's the puffy, oven-pocked crust and, in this Brickell spot's case, handmade mozzarella on a margherita pie with a soda ($10). If you ever find yourself overwhelmed by the bourgeois glitz of Brickell City Centre or the exorbitant prices of the nearby SLS properties, make a beeline for Ashley and Franco Stanzione's welcoming place and get your head and belly right for a fair price. 87 SW Eighth St., Miami; 786-360-1852;

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson