The women of Miami select smart choices to wine and dine clients, and catch up with old friends.
When you think of a power lunch, you think of a steakhouse, unless, of course, you’re one of Miami’s growing legion of power ladies. Lighter, airier spots with diverse cuisine—often healthy and locally grown—are perfect for these female dealmakers. Below, we ask some of our town’s leading women where they do lunch.
Avocado tartare at Canyon Ranch Grill.
Top real estate broker Nancy Batchelor is entertaining a client on the terrace at Canyon Ranch Grill (6801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-514-7474) in North Beach. The beachside restaurant is a popular destination for the EWM Realty International agent not only for its unrivaled view of the water but also for its health conscious gourmet dining. “They have a passion for the holistic, spiritual lifestyle, and they’re feeding themselves to fuel their bodies and manage the stress of their hectic lives,” says Batchelor of her Fortune 500 clients. At Canyon Ranch, nutritional information such as calories; grams of carbs, protein, fat, and fiber; and sodium milligrams is broken down for each dish on the lunch menu. Salt must be specially requested because it’s not part of the restaurant’s usual repertoire. Batchelor’s go-to meal is by no means short on flavor, however; she recommends the kale peanut salad with bell peppers, carrots, scallions, cabbage, cilantro, and peanut vinaigrette, as well as the many hearth fired flatbreads such as the fig and Maytag blue cheese with sweet balsamic glaze, arugula, and caramelized onions.
The sleek Japanese Makoto restaurant at BalHarbour Shops is a popular lunchtime destination.
A few miles north on Collins Avenue is Makoto (9700 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-864-8600) in BalHarbour Shops; here you’ll find entertainment reporter Lisa Petrillo catching up with friends before a busy day at WFOR-TV/CBS4. “Eating and gabbing can be productive,” she says. “We share stories that can lead to story ideas for everything from fashion trends to human interest pieces to new restaurants worth checking out.” At Makoto, a modern Japanese restaurant that’s sleek and always packed, Petrillo and her friends usually start with the Makoto house salad—a hearty bowl of watercress, chikuwa (tiny Japanese fish cakes made in the shape of a tube) for texture, and a light wasabi dressing. Then, Petrillo opts for what she considers one of the best deals in town: For $18, the bento box includes short rib robata (prepared on the traditional charcoal grill) with truffle miso, ponzu salmon with crispy Brussels sprouts, a spicy tuna roll, and a California roll. The potent green tea, served in a traditional cast-iron tetsubin, is a delightful way to pick up the pace for an afternoon of creativity.
In Miami proper, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (130 NE 40th St., Miami, 305-573-5550) was the first hot spot for power lunches in the Design District. For seven years, it has served as a hub for business and cultural leaders such as Susanne Birbragher, associate publisher of ArtNexus and CEO at Liaisons Corporation, an international marketing consultancy catering to chic clients like Chanel. “I love the ambience—contemporary yet laid-back—and Michael Schwartz’s creations are always innovative and fresh because his ingredients come from local providers,” says Birbragher. She starts with the crispy hominy (fried whole kernels of corn) sprinkled with lime juice. It’s a snack you must eat with your hands, which eliminates pomp and circumstance from a business meeting. To boost her energy level, she’ll ask for the wood-roasted local fish of the day.
Health-minded Miamians enjoy an alfresco midday meal at Mandolin Aegean Bistro in the Design District.
Nestled in a residential neighborhood just a few blocks away from the Design District is Mandolin Aegean Bistro (4312 NE Second Ave., Miami, 305-749-9140). It’s where Susie Wahab, a prominent philanthropist who volunteers at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, enjoys meeting friends for the restaurant’s authentic Mediterranean cuisine. “The best way to keep up with the people you care for is to listen to what they have to say,” explains Wahab, who typically orders a medley of her favorite dishes, including the kefte, grilled beef and lamb meatballs minced with fresh parsley; the Greek Village salad, an assortment of tomato, cucumber, Feta, green pepper, red onion, and Kalamata olives; and whole fish grilled with olive oil, lemon, and fresh oregano. Most of the ingredients, like the tomatoes, herbs, and greens, are picked from the restaurant’s backyard garden. “Good food must be complemented by good conversation and Mandolin’s homemade fries because they’re delicious.”
Lentil Geniroll at Choices Vegan Cafe in downtown/Brickell.
For AlysePask, Choices Vegan Cafe (379 SW 15th Road, Miami, 305-400-8895) in downtown/Brickell is like a breath of fresh air in contrast to the hustle of the city. It’s off the beaten path and unassuming, but once you enter the front door, Pask says, you’re warmly greeted with topnotch service. Choices is always bustling with positive energy, and that’s exactly what the Pask Productions founder, who executes events across the country for clients like Bacardi USA, needs to keep her creative juices flowing. “I think the food options at Choices help inspire us from the inside out,” she says of lunch with her team. Her typical order includes La Pixsa: Daiya cheese, black beans, tomato, walnut meat, red and green bell pepper, pico, carrots, onion, and pesto on a sprouted crust, with lots of chipotle sauce to add depth. No meal is complete, according to Pask, without a shot of ginger (for energy and vitality) and a slice of vegan cheesecake.