A Fork on the Road

Mina’s a passport to Mediterranean flavors on Miami’s Upper East Side


If you go

Place: Mina’s Mediterraneo

Address: 749 NE 79th St., Miami

Contact: 786-391-0300, minasmiami.com

Hours: Noon-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Dips $4, meze $4-$8, sliders $9-$11, entrees $10-$22, dessert $4-$10

F.Y.I. Free parking lot. Wine and beer; happy hour with $5 house wine and $3 drafts 5-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.


Mashed Carrot Salad

This salad, adapted from “World Food Café“ by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott (SOMA, 1999), is good with plain yogurt mixed in.

1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted

Juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons paprika

Salt and pepper

Cook the carrots in salted boiling water until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Blend in the cumin, lemon, oil, paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 98 calories, (62 percent calories from fat), 7.2g fat, (.9 g sat fat, 5.0g mono fat), 0mg cholesterol, 0.9 g protein, 8.9g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fiber, 54 mg sodium.

Mina’s Mediterraneo recently opened in a restored 1950s building that has a hip warehouse feel with vintage posters of cities on the Mediterranean Sea. Dishes range from Middle Eastern and Moroccan to Greek, French and Italian including meze, kebabs, soups, salads, pizza, pasta and tangine.

Owner Yasmine “Mina” Kotb gutted the building she bought two years ago and added a new roof, windows, plumbing and a patio in back.

Mina was born in Cairo and emigrated from Egypt to Texas with her family when she was 5. She studied business at the University of Texas in Austin and toured the world with rock bands as a stagehand and accountant. She fell under the spell of Miami on a stop here and decided to open a restaurant. Her parents, who have a similar eatery in Houston, supplied the recipes and help in the kitchen.

Start with spicy feta or besara (fava and herb) dips served with house-baked pita infused with ground cumin. Small plates include stuffed grape leaves, spinach phyllo pies and baked kibbe made from ground beef and bulgur with onions and pine nuts.

Pita sliders include falafel with red cabbage slaw and tahini, grilled chicken with garlic sauce and lamb burgers with harissa and tzatziki.

Bigger appetites can fill up on spicy lentil soup pureed with potatoes and spices, coq au vin made with chicken thighs braised in wine, beef bourguignon, or osso buco, all with mashed potatoes.

There’s also linguine with pesto, feta and kalamata olives, moussaka and vegetable tangine in saffron sauce with couscous or caramelized onion rice.

A slice of dark chocolate tart with almond crust ends the culinary travels with a sweet stamp.

Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who can be reached at lbb75@bellsouth.net.

Miami Herald

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