Midtown was made for sunny strolls through Wynwood, window-shopping on North Miami Avenue, and other leisurely adventures that call for a delicious lunch. Yet the midday meal is too often put on the back burner, shrugged off as dinner’s less-popular counterpart. Thankfully, these neighborhood restaurants bring the power back to lunchtime by serving creative and globally influenced dishes that go far beyond basic sandwiches and salads.
5. Buena Vista Bistro
The Buena Vista name rarely disappoints, and this bistro is no exception. Its lunch menu, available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, is one of midtown’s best deals. It includes a soup of the day or salad with a choice of a hearty entrée – pork tenderloin, chicken paillar, porccini risotto, or crabmeat with avocado sauce aurore – plus homemade rice pudding, all for just $11.95. Buena Vista Bistro also has daily lunch specials and elegant French plates such as steak tartare ($14) and onglet aux échalotes, a steak dish served with a choice of homemade mashed potatoes or fries ($14).
4. Proof Pizza & Pasta
For those days when a leafy salad just won’t cut it, head to Proof Pizza & Pasta in Wynwood for a hearty midday pick-me-up. This casual neighborhood spot takes advantage of seasonal and local ingredients to create solid versions of Neapolitan classics such as white and margherita pizzas. Signature pies, including the Proper Sausages lamb sausage with shallot purée and tomato jam ($15), are even better. If a cheesy pizza is too heavy, Proof offers a wide selection of alternative lunch options, such as a pork sandwich served with a side salad ($12). Lunch is served from noon to 3 p.m., and nothing on the regular menu costs more than $20.
3. Noa Café
This unassuming spot is a favorite for local in-the-know foodies. The barely marked building has blank white walls and barred windows, but don’t be put off by its looks – the modest exterior makes the vibrant fare even more of an exciting surprise. Noa Café fully caters to the needs of any lunch crowd, with a healthy, hearty daytime menu that gets a touch of global influence from chef Adi Kafri's Israeli roots and world travels. With plates such as the curry chicken salad sandwich on focaccia ($12) and the shareable Middle-Eastern mezze plate ($14), Noa is revamping lunch classics to create more flavorful renditions.
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Asian fare and lunch are a match made in heaven. The dishes are light, flavorful, and affordable when executed well, like at Shokudo. Chef Armando Litiatco incorporates cross-cultural inspiration into this bistro offerings for a diverse menu with topnotch ingredients. The restaurant is an especially solid choice when lunching with a group, because menu items encourage sharing and sampling. For solo diners, there's also a stellar lunch special for one. The bento box costs $10.75 and features a salad, slaw, miso soup, half of a California roll, and a choice of chicken or steak teriyaki, shrimp or vegetable tempura, gyoza, sushi or sashimi, and momo dumplings. On the regular lunch menu, served from noon to 3 p.m., dumplings cost $7 to $9, sushi rolls range from $9 to $14, and noodle dishes run $17 to $21. It's an exciting exploration of Asian cuisine, all during a lunchtime.
1. Lemoni Café