Venture off the beaten path to Miami’s most tucked-away epicurean spots.
The Alibi concession window at Lost Weekend.
Some don’t have a website. Others accept only cash. And one is even dedicated to veterans. From delectable tapas proffered in a gas station to an oceanfront burger bar, some of Miami’s most edible treasures hide in plain sight. Here is everything you need to know to discover them.
Need an excuse for where you were at 3 a.m.? Lost Weekend, the cool watering hole on Espanola Way, has it. Here, Philadelphia native Bill Sisca has a concession window—the aptly named Alibi—under a glowing neon-lit chalkboard menu, where he whips up some of the best Philly cheesesteaks in town. He even ships in Amoroso rolls straight from his hometown, layering them with thinly sliced rib eye, grilled onions, and your choice of Cheez Whiz, American, or provolone. Top it all with sriracha sauce for a cheesesteak like no other. 218 Espanola Way, Miami Beach, 305-674-3448
Costa Brava’s seared tuna with sesame seeds and a balsamic glaze.
Until recently, the only professional kitchen on Belle Island was The Standard’s Lido Mediterranean grill. Changing up the status quo is Costa Brava Restaurant on the Bay, a French-inspired bistro neatly hidden within the mezzanine of the Costa Brava condominium. This is Thierry Bossa’s second Miami endeavor after La Cigale. Bossa has brought over his escargot appetizer, but also upped the ante with seared tuna, duck à l’orange, and boeuf bourguignon, and outstanding sunset views. Docked on the marina, Costa Brava also boasts to-go service for boaters who have a craving for a croque-monsieur. 11 Island Ave., Miami Beach, 305-532-6397
Galician-style octopus, seafood paella, and more than 2,000 bottles of international wines are things you don’t typically expect to find in a gas station, but at El Carajo International Tapas & Wine—located in an unassuming BP off US 1—all of the aforementioned (and many more authentic Spanish delicacies) are available in its enchanting tavern-like setting. “People call and ask for directions because their GPS took them to a gas station,” says server Enmanuel Pérez. “I’ve been here four years. It never gets old seeing the look on their face when they walk in.” 2465 SW 17th Ave., Miami, 305-856-2424
Enjoy American wagyu sliders with fig jam while taking in water views at Dune Oceanfront Burger Lounge.
Gourmet burgers and frozen mojitos are the name of the game at Dune Oceanfront Burger Lounge, barkeeper Geno Marron’s signature spot some 20 years in the making that is tucked away in the back of The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne. Bite into the American wagyu sliders topped with baby arugula and fig jam recommended by local chef and Key Biscayne native Henry Hané (Senora Martinez, Miramar, and Bachour Bakery). Says Hané, “Eating a juicy burger with your feet in the sand and hearing the ocean... Does it get any better?” 455 Grand Bay Dr., Key Biscayne, 305-365-4500
No website and fogged windows make finding the Japanese Market and Sushi Deli on the 79th Street Causeway a bit tricky. But once inside, you’ll quickly understand why local chefs and bartenders like Cricket Nelson (Circa 39), Gui Jaroschy (Broken Shaker), and Josh Marcus (Josh’s Deli) swear by it. A corner of the market doubles as a sushi bar. Behind it, sushi chef and owner Michio Kushi or Kushi’s daughter Erika tops pellets of rice with fresh catch like mackerel, toro, and sea urchin. 1412 79th St. Cswy., North Bay Village, 305-861-0143
Momi Ramen’s wild mushroom ramen, with shiitake, bamboo, enoki, and nameko mushrooms.
Oodles of Noodles
No one answers the phone or speaks English at Momi Ramen, a covert, cash-only noodle operation in Brickell. Here, owner Jeffrey Chen dedicates three days to broth and makes noodles fresh to order. The result is a slurp-worthy aromatic and supple bowl of ramen. Open till 3 a.m., the 22-seater is a magnet for hungry chefs fresh off their shift, like Mignonette chef de cuisine Bobby Frank. “When everything else is closing, I can go to Momi and have a bowl of oxtail ramen.” 5 SW 11th St., Miami, 786-391-2392
There’s no sign to point you in the direction of VFW Post 3559—probably because the veterans-only dive bar has been the best-kept secret on South Beach since its 1936 inception and reopening on D-Day circa 1998. Behind the bar, Post Commander Doug Morris can be found serving ice-cold beers or pouring wallet-friendly Patróns for one of the post’s 250 permanent members. “It’s the most luxurious dive bar with the best prices and best commander,” jokes Morris. 650 West Ave., Miami Beach, 305-672-1990
Spicy mango slaw at My Ceviche.
Plead the Fifth
Even with locations all over town, My Ceviche's inaugural South of Fifth hole-in-the-wall still manages to go unnoticed by passersby and locals alike. One wouldn’t expect ceviche bowls, tuna burritos, and fish tacos from a two-time James Beard-nominated chef to emanate from a tiny doorway adjacent to a hostel, but owners Sam Gorenstein and Roger Duarte’s (George Stone Crab) My Ceviche is exactly that. Says SoFi resident Eric Fuller, “I walked by it for a year before I realized this was the place I’d been ordering delivery from.” 235 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305-397-8710
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL KEARNEY, FELIPE CUEVAS (MY CEVICHE)