Downtown Miami isn't exactly the culinary capital of the city. Affordable options are slim. Fancy hotel restaurants and fast-food spots can be found, but midrange places for a delicious lunch for $10 or less are hard to come by.
If you don't want to pack your own lunch every day, here are ten lunches that will keep your taste buds happy, your stomach full, and your wallet fat.
10. Pizza al Taglio at Pizzarium
Need a lunch that makes you feel like a Roman god? Strap on your gladiator sandals and head to the Pizzarium, where you can throw down a thick, bubbly, and chewy slice. Pizzarium sells pizza al taglio, a rectangular Roman pie. For a fun time, try the funghetto ($6.84 for a slice), with porcini mushrooms, garlic, and black truffle cream.
9. Salad Bar at Whole Foods Downtown Miami
The lease may have been signed in 2003, but only six months ago did Whole Foods open its doors at this location. It's a welcome addition that offers made-to-order churros, croquetas, and flan from Versailles, brew from Funky Buddha, and cold-pressed juices from Jugofresh. There are plenty of affordable options, but hit the salad bar. If you don't pick veggies that weigh a lot, you can easily score a delicious salad for less than $10.
8. Ayam Bumbu Kecap at Bali Cafe
When it comes to hidden gems downtown, Bali Cafe tops the list. The best choice is the rijisttafel for $17.95. You get six courses of an Indonesian feast. But if you want to stay under the $10 mark, try the ayam bumbu kecap ($8.95), with grilled chicken breast and kecap manis (a sweet Indonesian soy sauce) or one of the soup or rice noodle dishes.
7. Brussels Sprouts Two Ways at 180 Degrees at the DRB
This gastropub that gave the DRB a 180-degree flip still keeps plenty of craft beer, but now the food is also up to par for the most perfect of pairings. You can get black bean, pulled pork, or fried chicken sliders for $10. But chef Ryan Martin also has a special take on veggies, such as the Brussels sprouts. He pairs the healthful vegetable with chorizo and frizzled onions for something pretty delicious.
6. Gyro Sandwich at Stoupsy's of Athens
The hard-working lunch crowd in the neighborhood knows this little Greek café well. The lamb and beef in its gyro sandwich ($6.50) has a slightly crisp seared edge from the spit. The veggies are always fresh and piled high. A mix of lettuce, red onions, and fresh diced tomatoes are covered in tasty homemade tzatziki. Feta cheese finishes off the pillowy-pita-wrapped sandwich before it gets a final foil wrapping. It's a gift from the Greek gods.
5. French Onion Soup at Downtown Bistro
Soupe gratinée à l’oignon ($6.50) is a must at any French place, and Downtown Bistro is no exception. The blistered cheese is delectable. As you can see in the above picture, it is something special. If you want to splurge and top the $10 mark, you can't go wrong with another lunch staple, the croque-monsieur ($10.50). It easily feeds two, so if you share, you'll say well within your ten-buck budget.
4. Vadouvan Chicken Salad Sandwich at Fooq's
This isn't your grandma's or the golf club's chicken salad sandwich. Fooq's makes regular food fun. Its vadouvan chicken salad sandwich ($10) on warm naan bread is stuffed with pulled chicken, apples, golden raisins, toasted almonds, Greek yogurt, and greens (or purples). The crunch that you might expect from celery comes from crisp apples and almonds. The flavors and the textures of this dish work in perfect harmony, and your hands get a soft, pillowy grip as you dig in.
3. Ex-Patriot Pressed Sandwich at Sparky's Roadside Barbecue
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"We're an American restaurant, so we couldn't call it a Cuban, but it's pretty close," says Hans Seitz, co-owner of the downtown barbecue spot Sparky's. This happy accident of a sandwich was not what they set out to create, but this cubano variation ($9.95) with a barbecue twist is a winner. The pork bathed in mojo is smoked for up to eight hours. We are hog wild about the result.
2. Lunch Combo at Bryan in the Kitchen
Bryan's is downtown's go-to for the best chocolate chip cookie and an affordable, healthful lunch. Nearly every item on the menu costs less than $10. Try the lunch combos. You can get a half-sandwich and half-salad, a half-sandwich and soup, or a half-salad and soup for $9.75. The beet-and-palm-hearts salad and salmon sandwich are fresh and satisfying.
1. Siam Kiss at Burrito San
We love a good threesome, especially when the trio comprises Thai flavors, burritos, and seaweed. Burrito San is our absolute favorite lunch addition to the downtown dining scene. The prices are reasonable, and the fare is fresh and bold. The Siam Kiss ($9) — made with lemongrass chicken, shredded papaya slaw, pickled jalapeños, peanuts, and nuoc mam sauce rolled into rice and seaweed — is tops.
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst