The team behind Meraki Greek Bistro has brought a new restaurant to downtown Miami: The Miami Diner.
Tucked into same the narrow courtyard off SE First Avenue that houses Meraki and Alloy Bistro, the Miami Diner opened its doors November 30 with all the makings of a classic American diner, complete with a walk-up coffee counter, an extensive menu, and a jukebox.
Managing partner Alex Karavias, who lived in North Carolina and New York before moving to South Florida, tells New Times he has always kicked around the notion of opening a classic American diner. This year, he and chef/partner Giannis Kotsos skipped their annual trip to their native Greece and instead took a road trip through northern Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, visiting restaurants and gathering ideas for their new venture.
"For me, it's important not to forget diners are an integral part of America’s food and beverage industry," Karavias says. "While we’ve evolved into fancier meals and cool-looking presentations, a diner still provides good old comfort food, in a neighborhood setting. You don’t need a reservation to get in, dress codes are loose, the menu appeals to the whole family, and you can expect familiar smiling faces who will remember your name and eventually your order. At times such as these, I believe that’s something we’re missing and looking to go back to."
The result is a 1,300-square-foot space with a look and feel that combines both halves of its name. Designed by Karavias's wife Marcela, the diner is outfitted with retro décor, from its black-and-white checkered flooring to its spacious booths and hanging light fixtures, along with a Miami-inspired mural, vibrant turquoise vinyl on its counter stools and chairs, and purple neon inside and out.
Kotsos's all-day menu of Philly cheesesteak ($13), eggs benedict platters ($9 to $11), waffles ($10 to $15), and burgers and fries ($10 to $18) is accented with a few dishes with Mediterranean twists, such as the Greek lemon chicken served with oven-roasted potatoes ($12), a goat cheese salad ($12), and tricolored bell peppers stuffed with beef and rice ($15).
A milkshake list devised by partner and general manager Ivan Kolev features options including the "Munchies," made with CBD oil-infused mint and chocolate-chip ice cream; and the "Nutella Ferrero," made with vanilla ice cream, Nutella, and Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolates ($14). Beer, wine, and classic soda floats are also on the menu ($4.50).
The restaurant seats 65 guests indoors and 25 on the outdoor patio and will be open around the clock on weekends once Miami's COVID-19 curfew is lifted.
"I've worked in late-night concepts before," Karavias says. "Having a place to visit any time gives us a safety net when we are out and about — we can count on going there and having a warm meal and a cup of coffee."
The Miami Diner. 140 SE First Ave., Miami; 786-536-2400; themiamidiner.com. Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 7 a.m. to 6 a.m. (or until curfew), and Sundays 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
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