Image credit: Pan American World Airways Steward serving dinner aboard a Martin M-130, circa 1930s. Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records, Special Collections, University of Miami Libraries.
Restaurant Night is an RBMS tradition. Small groups of conference participants can get to know one another while visiting some of the best restaurants in the area. This year’s restaurant night will be centered in downtown Coral Gables. Coral Gables restaurants feature a wide range of cuisines to choose from and the options for dinner reflect the diversity of dishes available in Miami. Restaurant night diners will be responsible for the cost of their own meals, and there will be several restaurants with a range of prices to choose from. Sign-up sheets will be available at the Registration desk onsite on a first-come, first-served basis. Many of the locations available for restaurant night sign-up will be participating in Coral Gables Restaurant Week. Participating restaurants will be featuring a 3-course prix-fixe menu, with some locations changing selections on a nightly basis.
Below are just a few selections from the restaurant night list. Bon appétit!
278 Miracle Mile Coral Gables, FL 33134
Ortanique On the Mile is different than most restaurants you’ll find in Coral Gables. You will be hit with strong Caribbean colors as soon as you walk in. And the food matches the décor: colorful and bold. Executive chef and owner, Cindy Hutson, describes the food as “Cuisine of the Sun.” It is an eclectic fusion of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, and anything unique and interesting she finds on her travels.
For dinner, you can’t go wrong with starting your meal with any of these appetizers (or just order a few appetizers and share with your friends, tapas style!): Red Strip beer steamed Mediterranean mussels or clams in spicy broth ($15/19), conch and corn fritters ($16), West Indian curried fresh jumbo lump crabcake ($18), port braised short ribs with butter beans and truffled gnocchi ($16), or ceviche of the night ($16). The Chef’s Specials change nightly and may include braised lamb osso buco ($36), pork tenderloin with parmesan risotto ($28), or pan seared local fish ($29). Some of the neighborhood favorites are jerk chicken penne pasta ($23), West Indian Cornish game hen with Jamaican rice and peas ($26), coffee and cocoa encrusted wild salmon with creamy sausage polenta ($26), and West Indian style bouillabaisse with aromatic Jasmine rice in coconut curried broth ($45).
2626 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Coral Gables, FL 33134
If you’re craving organic vegan food while in Coral Gables, stop by Choices Café. Located in downtown Coral Gables, Choices offers a wide variety of salads, wraps, and burritos. To begin your order, decide if you want your meal on a whole wheat wrap, gluten free wrap, collard leaf wrap (a delicious and crunchy option), salad bowl, rice bowl, or for an extra $1, a quinoa bowl and then select from the myriad of options. Favorites at Choices include the Mental Lentil: lentil meat, black beans, quinoa, plantain, sautéed onion, pico de gallo, cashew cheese, avocado, and tahni sauce, the Chicken Homie: chick’n, spinach, sautéed onion, sautéed zucchini, cashew cheese, and chipotle mayo in a collard green wrap, and the Lentil Biggie Burger: double-stacked lentil patties, vegan cheese, and chipotle mayo on sprouted grain sesame seed bun. Choices also services a selection of smoothies and juices, and often has kombucha on draft near the front door, making for a very welcome entrance to this charming restaurant.
Miss Saigon Bistro
148 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33134
A local favorite tucked away down Giralda Ave, Miss Saigon Bistro offers daily lunch specials of Vietnamese and Chinese staples that are leagues ahead of typical take-away fare. The dinner menu is even more extensive, featuring a variety of rice and noodle dishes, vegetarian/vegan options, and Pho widely regarded as the best in Miami. Superior service and an elegantly simple atmosphere also complement the pleasant, homey dining room.
1915 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, FL 33134
What started out as one of Miami’s most popular food trucks is now one of its most beloved local eateries. Ms. Cheezious brings a decadent, gourmet take on the classic grilled cheese sandwich. The menu features pretty much everything one could envision melted between two slices of bread (gluten-free available) from sweet to savory, goat cheese to Gouda, and tempeh to short-ribs. Craft beer, wine, milkshakes, and rich sides are available as well. For serious lovers of comfort food.
Versailles Cuban Restaurant
3555 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33135
Versailles Restaurant opened in 1971 and, since then, has become a Calle Ocho staple for both locals and tourists alike. Versailles sports a huge menu packed with traditional favorites such as picadillo, a stew of ground beef and tomatoes, medianoche sandwiches, toasted Cuban bread, slathered with mustard and layered with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese and pickles, and tender, juicy pork that will satisfy even the most seasoned aficionado are a must order. The mirror walled restaurant includes a number of large tables for accommodating family and friends alike. Make sure to order a Cuban Coffee when you’re done.
Yard House at the Village of Merrick Park
320 San Lorenzo Ave. Coral Gables, FL 33146
If you’re looking for cheap, affordable food in a pricy neighborhood, Yard House at the Village of Merrick Park (http://www.yardhouse.com/home) is one of your best options. Rather than your typical greasy bar food options, they offer a good, tasty, and healthy menu with plenty of options, including several vegetarian and gluten-free alternatives to satisfy all kinds of dietary needs. They mostly serve a wide variety of burgers, salads, tacos, seafood, pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and, of course, cocktails to go along with every hearty meal. I highly recommend the Gardein™ menu (http://www.yardhouse.com/nutrition) for vegetarians, as it’s quite delicious! Best of all is that you can leave there full and pay well under $50 for an entire meal for two, which is quite a feat considering the location. The atmosphere is also really nice with plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy the beautiful Miami weather, and the many shopping boutiques around the Village of Merrick Park provide a good way to work off calories after you’ve eaten.
150 Giralda Ave. Coral Gables, FL 33134
The Local is a place in Miami to enjoy great locally sourced food, a wide variety of rotating craft beers on tap, a delicious menu of cocktails, and fine selection of wine and spirits in a warm and welcoming pub environment. The Local specializes in rethinking ingredients at their most basic level; Chef Phil Bryant makes his own American cheese to top one of the best burgers in town. The Southern cuisine influenced menu highlights local ingredients and house made charcuterie selections. If you go, be sure to ask about the cheese plate, and try the chicken & biscuits, fried chicken, and the fried green tomatoes.
If you none of these restaurants strike your fancy, there are plenty of others to choose from! This map features all of the restaurants participating in the RBMS Restaurant Night: