We visited six new and classic Miami restaurants, all located south of the Dolphin Expressway, and ordered the most expensive things on the menu.
Because, as Miami’s dining map continues to expand beyond South Beach, Brickell and Wynwood, the sprawling swath of South Miami-Dade — where many would argue the real locals live — has plenty of knockout restaurants. And in true Magic City fashion, there’s a little something for everyone: from a locally owned Jewish deli in South Miami to a rising-star chef’s new Indian restaurant in Kendall. Here are six of our favorite spots, and the priciest dishes they serve:
Twenty-three years after opening as a cooking school, Two Chefs has stood the test of time as one of South Miami-Dade’s finest restaurants. Danish-born chef and owner Jan Jorgensen reinvents his menu every two weeks and still leads a regular schedule of cooking classes.
A classic that never goes out of style is Jorgensen’s $36 Fire-Roasted Bronzino. He combines duck-confit onions with aromatic fingerling potatoes, which serve as a bed for a butterflied, boneless fish rubbed with herb vinaigrette and garlic oil. Jorgensen finishes the dish in Two Chefs’ wood-burning oven. “As a cook, I like to actually cook, so whenever we can use the wood oven, we do,” he said. “You have to build a fire just like a Boy Scout, using oak wood, birch or both. When I put this dish in there, the skin gets really crispy, the potatoes get golden brown and delicious, and it all becomes a beautiful thing.”
8287 South Dixie Highway, Miami; 305-663-2100; twochefsrestaurant.com.
Finka Table & Tap
Finka may have only celebrated its third anniversary, but it has felt like a longtime part of West Kendall’s cultural fabric since the day it opened. Chef-owner Eileen Andrade’s Cuban-Peruvian-Korean menu has evolved into its own unique and delicious identity. Take the $36 Hogfish, for example. Brought in fresh from the Keys, the fish gets seasoned with salt and lemon juice, then fried and covered in Finka’s special sauce — a twist on chimichurri with cilantro, garlic, sweet soy, lime juice, ají limon and other peppers.
“Hogfish feeds on seafood only, so it picks up lots of flavors when you eat it, without having that ‘fishy’ taste,” Finka executive chef Ofer Cohen said. “When you prepare it with our special sauce, it creates a beautiful flavor profile. It’s tangy, sweet and sour all at the same time.”
14690 Southwest 26th Street, Miami; 305-227-8818; finkarestaurant.com.
Hank & Harry’s Deli
Hank & Harry’s immediately charmed locals and visitors when it opened off Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road last year. The New York-style deli is opening a second, larger location this month in South Miami. Co-founded by Richard Booth and Buzzy Sklar, who also opened Sliderz restaurants together, the friendly Hank & Harry’s has gained a following for its deli classics: egg-salad sandwiches, bagels with cream cheese, split-pea soup, corned beef, brisket, black-and-white cookies and more.
The menu tops out at $23.95, which gets you a Combo Pounder: a 1/2-pound each of two different deli meats, piled high on a triple-decker sandwich. Sklar recommends getting hot corned beef and pastrami as your meat choices. “If you picture those giant sandwiches in New York delis, this is even better,” Sklar said. “We cut the meats right to order, and it comes with coleslaw and a half-sour pickle. Get it with one of our potato knishes and a Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry soda, and, trust me, you’ve had a real deli experience.”
5958 South Dixie Highway, South Miami; handhdeli.com.
Hidden in a medical office building just off Sunset Drive and Galloway Road, Café Catula is part art gallery, part restaurant. Owned by husband-and-wife team Saul and Leida Hernandez, Catula features live music most nights and a partnership with Cuban artist Uldis Lopez that allows the Hernandezes to curate the Catula Collection of for-sale fine paintings and sculptures.
The restaurant’s international menu rivals the art collection in terms of crowd-pleasers. From the Chef Classics selections, the $39 Catula Filet is the most expensive, and for good reason. “It’s one of our signature dishes,” Saul Hernandez said. “We take a center-cut filet mignon, stuff it with goat cheese and roasted red peppers, and top it with roasted garlic, rosemary and a wine sauce. To round out the flavors on the plate, it’s served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. With the ambiance here, a hearty, flavorful dish like this just works.”
7190 Southwest 87 Avenue, Miami; 305-720-2122; cafecatula.com.
Ghee Indian Kitchen
The hotly anticipated Ghee Indian Kitchen in Downtown Dadeland opened to rave reviews this summer. With a name that translates to “pure,” Ghee is where you’ll find a fresh, modern twist on Indian classics. Chef and owner Niven Patel says he intends his dishes to be shared, family-style, allowing diners to sample many flavors. As a result, prices are low — most of the menu is less than $10 — so you won’t break the bank on Ghee’s Local Cobia for $17.
“This is more of a South India-style dish, but it’s also very Miami,” Patel said. “I pick coconuts from my farm in Homestead to make coconut milk, and then I add black mustard seeds, curry leaves, lime and Thai chilies to make a coconut curry base. The cobia is grilled and marinated with ground coriander, cumin and cloves, and then lightly simmered in the coconut curry.” Spend the money you saved on a side order of Green Millet ($10). “Millet comes from a small village in India where my ancestors are from,” Patel said. “It’s hard to explain, but there’s really nothing like it.”
8965 Southwest 72nd Place, Kendall; 305-968-1850; gheemiami.com.
No Name Chinese
Heath Porter and Craig DeWald, the talented duo behind Uvaggio in Coral Gables, have opened the Asian restaurant South Miami-Dade has been waiting for. No Name Chinese in South Miami serves wine on tap and uses herbs from Pinecrest Gardens in its daily tea program, part of its neighborhood appeal. “Some of our favorite customers, who are now our partners, came to us wanting a place to get good Chinese food, like in New York,” DeWald said. “We loved the idea. And, of course, we wanted to pair it with a great wine list, like at Uvaggio.”
The priciest menu item is Black Angus Grilled Tenderloin “Au Poivre,” at $28. The dish replaces traditional black pepper with Sichuan peppercorn, adding a hit of Shaoxing rice wine and a side of roasted local vegetables. It’s been flying out of the kitchen since No Name opened in late May. “If it were me, I’d pair it with a really peppery red,” DeWald said.
7400 Southwest 57th Court, South Miami; 786-577-0734; nonamechinese.com.