Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hot Lunch Spots in the Downtown Area Part 1

The Downtown/Brickell area has been evolving by the day, becoming a center point for culinary delight.  I've had a lot of fellow foodies ask me for suggestions not only for great dinner places here, but also hot lunch spots as well. Since there are many places to go have an amazing lunch in Downtown/Brickell, I thought it would be fun to give you a taste of some of my favorites.

Whether you are in the mood for a salad, sushi, steak, seafood, or a sandwich, there are many dining spots available to choose from. The great thing is that many of these places have specials and deals happening on certain days of the week that will not only make lunch a delight for the stomach, but a relief for the wallet as well. I chose to start of with three places  in the Midtown area. The Midtown Miami  area is the neighborhood just north of Downtown Miami, along Biscayne Boulevard, and south of the Miami Design District. Once an area that was in disarray, it has been revitalized and become a trendy, well visited urban neighborhood, where there are paved sidewalks and abundant landscaping. It is now the home to The Shops at Midtown Miami, an outdoor shopping area designed to look like New York's SOHO district, and containing many popular stores and restaurants. Midtown Miami has  also become home to several Art Shows and lounges.

Lime Burrito
Bean Burrito
Our first adventure takes us to a place that has been rapidly expanding to over 11 locations in the East Coast, and for very good reason: Lime Fresh Mexican Grill located at 3201 Miami Avenue, Suite 100, at The Shops at Midtown Miami. I'll start by saying that I went to a couple Mexican places in the area to find the one I wanted to share with you, and none measured up to this one. The food here is delicious, fresh and very filling. They have their produce delivered daily and all the sauces, salsas and side dishes are homemade. The menu is extensive and the staff is very friendly and welcoming. On my latest visit, I ordered the Lime Burrito.  The Lime Burrito is one of the favorites here; imagine a flour tortilla stuffed with your choice of chicken or ground beef, homemade organic refried beans, jack and cheddar cheese, sour cream and shredded lettuce. Delicioso!  I chose the ground beef this time and it was incredible! The meat was seasoned so perfectly, I wanted to lick my fingers each time I got some there. The burrito was big and very generously filled. It came served with a side of warm, homemade tortilla chips that I just couldn't put down. Which brings me to something else I like at Lime: their variety of sauces and salsas. They have a counter filled with everything from fresh cilantro to pico de gallo.  These are not only great to put on your food if you choose to, but also to dip their delicious chips in. Being an avocado lover and knowing their homemade guacamole was divine, I ordered a small side of it and promised myself I'd order a large one on my next visit here. Another great thing about Lime? They're promoting healthy eating habits and giving us a break with Meatless Mondays. Veggie buys, such as the Bean Burrito, which I also sampled on my visit, are all twenty percent off! Definitely a great place for lunch and perhaps for a tasty Margarita? Call them at 786-260-2553 or visit them online at http://www.limefreshmexicangrill.com/.

Pork Buns
Honey Orange Ribs
Our next adventure in Midtown takes us to Sakaya Kitchen, located at 3401 N Miami Ave, Suite 125, also in the Shops at Midtown Miami. How many of us actually look forward to eating brussel sprouts? I didn't either until I tried them here. Sakaya Kitchen serves Asian  inspired food, with an edginess all of its own. I came here after a friend recommended it to me, and left both happy and satisfied.  The menu is very interesting, providing nutritious foods in a fun, delectable way. I started off by ordering the Pork Buns stuffed with 8 hour roasted pork, cucumber pickles, and ssamjang sweet chili sauce. Oh wow, were they good! The delicious mess I created eating each of my two pork buns was so well worth it. The buns themselves are so soft and fluffy, they practically dissolve in your mouth, and the meat..oh the meat! It  was tender, flavorful and sweet. I could taste the slow cooking and careful marinade it went through before reaching my mouth. Last but not least, the final touch to this creation: the sweet chili sauce. A blend of ingredients that complement each other, it gives the pork buns the ultimate kick to make it a wonderous experience.  Next, I had the Honey Orange Ribs, that came with jasmine rice, scallions, and ginger brussel sprouts. The ribs were very tender and sweet; with the meat falling off the bone, and the jasmine rice had a creamy texture as it mixed with the sweet spices of the dish...but the most impressive item on this dish were the brussel sprouts. I have never had brussel sprouts cooked this way. Talk about an explosion of gastronomical proportions! The sprouts are caramelized and smothered in ginger; making them sweet, savory and the best side dish I've had in a long time. You have got to try them and see for yourself.  If not here in Midtown, in their mobile food truck, Dim Ssam a gogo.  By the way, Sakaya Kitchen has also recently opened a second location in the downtown area, so depending on where you work, or which is closer, you have two choices of where to enjoy their one-of-a-kind brussel sprouts. Contact them at 305-576-8096 or visit them online at http://sakayakitchen.com/.

100 Montaditos
Fries
Another place I love  is 100 Montaditos, located at 3252 NE 1st Ave, Suite 104, also in The Shops at Midtown Miami. It's no wonder they're all the craze with some 200 locations worldwide (in France, Mexico, Portugal, and, primarily, in Spain), and more popping up everywhere. (I saw one opening soon in Miracle Mile.) This Spanish wonder of small sandwiches, takes the concept of "montados" to a whole new level. In Spain, a montado is a flavorful topping "montado", or "riding" on a small slice of baguette. It is another small bite very popular in their tapas bars. They come in a variety of flavors and can be prepared both hot and cold. 100 Montaditos  has over 100 of these little sandwiches on their menu, and they vary in price from one dollar to three dollars, depending on how many ingredients are assembled on the bread. I usually order 3 or 4 sandwiches every time I go and while I absolutely adore almost all the ones I have tried, my personal favorites are: 

#87-Salmon with cream cheese, arugula, capers and olive oil on mediterranean bread, 
#91- Serrano ham with mozzarella, fresh tomato and pesto sauce, also on mediterranean bread and 
#69-Tortilla espanola with Iberic cheese, chorizo and olive oil on etiqueta negra

Delicious montaditos
Dollarmania Wednesdays
When you order the sandwiches, you want to accompany them with one of their delicious fries. They come with special sauces for dipping, including  brava, mojo picon, ali oli and ketchup. Their salads are an adventure in themselves, with the freshest of ingredients and generous portions. Try the Salmon Salad with mixed lettuce, smoked salmon, surimi crab meat, olives, crispy onions, cherry tomato and pink sauce. You will never forget it! For dessert, you have a variety of montaditos to sample as well, including one with a Dulce de Leche Chocolate Spread and Cookies and Cream Chocolate Bar. Their menu identifies which montaditos are vegetarian, lacto vegetarian or ovo vegetarian, so if that's your preference, you will find a good sampling here. Also, if you are on the run, they can pack up your montaditos to go, and they'll carefully place them for you in the cutest to-go boxes.

Here's the best part (besides the taste). Wednesday is Dollarmania at 100 Montaditos. That means every single montadito is $1.00! Yes, I said one dollar. Their fries are also a dollar, and their salads are 2 dollars. Great deal for amazing food! To contact them call 305 921-4373 or visit their website at http://www.100montaditos.com/us/.

Next time you're wondering where to go for lunch in the Downtown/Brickell area, give these places a try and let me know how it goes. Since there are so many other wonderful choices that provide great lunch food, in a relaxing ambiance, I'll be posting some more next week. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, I'd love to keep hearing them! Bon appetit! 
                             



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