Don't spend another half-hour eating lunch at your desk and fading under the office's fluorescent lighting as a computer screen melts your eyes out of their sockets. Grab your keys and get outside. Feel that? It's the sun. Finally, your body is getting the vitamin D it's been craving for weeks.
6. Bubble Café & Tea Lounge
In a hidden corner of a far-flung strip mall, Manny Sulbaran serves a thoughtful, concise list of fare that won't send you back to the office in a coma. Perhaps you know Sulbaran. He was once chef de cuisine at Michael Schwartz's Harry's Pizzeria in the Design District. It may seem odd to find him all the way out here, but you'll be happy he is, especially when you get a glimpse of his burrata and panzanella salad ($7), as well as curried coconut rice ($6) with lentils, Virginia peanuts, raisins, scallions, and cilantro. Don't forget to grab a sweet bubble tea ($4 to $8) for the ride back to the office.
5. Maido Japanese Restaurant
At first glance, Hiroshi Horai's Maido might look like another stamped-out Miami sushi spot. Upon closer inspection, it's anything but. The onetime cook from Coral Gables favorite Su-Shin Izakaya moved out here a decade ago and has grown his loyal following thanks to spot-on sushi and an extensive menu offering everything from the sticky fermented soybeans called natto ($3.50) to grilled pine mackerel ($8) sprinkled with a touch of salt. Or opt for the oyako-don, a classic lunch of chicken and egg over warm sushi rice. Finish it off with a few pieces of nigiri, and you'll be set for the day.
4. La Esquina del Lechón
Some days you just don't care. It's been a hell of a morning, or it'll be one of those afternoons. You need something satisfying, something fatty, a quick escape. Traipse over to this palace of pork and tell your problems to a welcoming basket of buttered bread with chicharrones. Then order the large pan con lechón ($9.45). It's a savory symphony that washes over you with ample bits of pork skin peeking out through shreds of luscious shoulder meat. Lay on some of the crisp plantain chips called
3. Mi Lindo Ecuador
Head here when you need something else in your diet besides endless arepas and patacones. Life is about variety, and this family-run Ecuadorian spot offers filling, hard-to-find dishes. Try the bolon mixto ($6), a mofongo-style meatball that blends green plantain, shrimp, and chicharrones. Keep the theme going with bollo de pescado ($9.63), which packs mashed green plantains, peanuts, tomato, coriander, and fish in a banana leaf that’s steamed and served like an ultra-hearty tamale.
2. Pepito’s Plaza
There's a good chance you'll find someone from your office complex here, relaxing on the shaded patio, perhaps sucking down a beer or soda from the attached gas station. Don't let the strange surroundings fool you. You're here for an orgy of meat, and it's everywhere. Find it in their parrilladas ($9) stacked with grilled chicken and steak covered with potato sticks and painted with tangy avocado relish guasacaca, a favorite in Venezuela. Pay your respects to the neighborhood with the Doralzuela burger ($12), featuring a column of beef, chopped grilled chicken, and thick-sliced ham. A fried egg, an avocado crescent, and a smattering of potato sticks are piled on top for good measure. Summer is approaching, so you'll likely want to show up early to get yourself a seat in the shade. The meat sweats are real.
1. Las Mercedes Cafeteria
If you think your desk job is rough, Las Mercedes will give you reason to be thankful. Nestled into a looming strip of Doral warehouses, this hybrid Cuban-Nicaraguan cafeteria is a favorite among the city's blue-collar workers. And here is where you'll find them on one of the few hours they take respite from their backbreaking labor. Take a seat at owner Denise Paredes' counter, and you'll soon know why they're here: for hulking portions of hearty fare to steel them for whatever lies ahead. On Fridays, this pintsize cafeteria turns into a boisterous party. The big black drum that sits out front is packed full of coals, and 55-year-old Manuel Lopez lays on hulking slabs of pork ($17) and beef ribs ($12.50). Grab an order to go with sides such as supercrisp tostones and rich black beans.
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