UPDATE: Voting for Day 4 is now closed. Voting is open for Round 2 of the Casual Dining Region.
Miami’s mad for basketball with the NCAA tournaments, but we have a more delicious bracket in mind.
The Miami Herald’s Munch Madness pits some of Miami-Dade’s best and most popular restaurants against each other — and you vote on the winners.
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Our selection committee included a wide range of eaters, from three Miami Herald dining critics to staff food nerds who just love to dine out. We narrowed the field to 64 restaurants, like the college basketball tournament’s 64 teams, that we felt represented some of the most-loved Miami-Dade County spots.
Come back to MiamiHerald.com/restaurants each day, vote for your favorite, and help them move through the bracket over the next three weeks until you crown the Munch Madness champion on April 4.
We’re down to the last region of Round 1. We’ve already asked you about your favorite Casual Dining spots, Chef-Driven restaurants, and World Cuisine. Now it’s time to finish Round 1 with the Local Favorites and Chains Region. (That’s the top right quadrant if you downloaded the bracket.) Voting closes at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 19.
(1) Joe’s Stone Crab vs. (16) El Rey de las Fritas
Joe’s Stone Crab has been around longer than any other upscale Miami restaurant and for good reason: delectable stone crabs served in an Old World setting where the staff treats you like royalty. El Rey is an equal Miami institution over the last 40 years, serving what many feel is the best representation of the Cuban frita hamburger.
(8) Sergio’s vs. (9) SuViche
Sergio’s serves spot-on Cuban cuisine and replicates that model perfectly at its eight locations, with even La Flaca “light” options. SuViche nailed classic quick-service Peruvian cuisine (with its Japanese, Latin and indigenous influences) and has now spread to four South Florida locations.
(5) Shula’s Steakhouse vs. (12) Enriqueta’s
Miami’s beloved ball coach has turned Shula’s into a top-notch steakhouse recognized not only locally but around the country. Enriqueta’s has been drawing diehard Cuban cuisine fans (and pastelito lovers) for decades as lines are out the door on weekends.
(4) Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish Market vs. (13) Jackson Soul Food
Garcia’s became a national destination by first being a favorite local spot, serving just-caught seafood by its own fleet of boats at its location along the Miami River. A lot places try to make soul food trendy, but not Overtown’s Jackson, where stars and locals alike go for oxtail, collard greens, fried okra and yellow rice.
(6) Sushi Maki vs. (11) Pisco y Nazca
Abe Ng, whose parents founded Coral Gables’ Canton Chinese restaurant when they emigrated from Hong Kong, built Sushi Maki into one of South Florida’s most successful restaurant chains, serving top-rate ingredients at down-to-earth prices. The people of Kendall flip for the party-like atmosphere at ceviche gastropub Pisco y Nazca, with both classic Peruvian dishes (ceviche in leche de tigre) and adventurous plates (fried pork buns stuffed with sweet shredded pork and hoisin mayo) with hearty portions.
(3) Bulla vs. (14) Shorty’s
Bulla Gastrobar melds that stand-around-the-bar experience with Spanish and Catalan-inspired dishes in an upscale setting, where a glass of cava pairs beautifully with a Salpicon de Mariscos, a seafood salad with grilled octopus, crab, shrimp and tiny crisp ribbons of sweet potato. You make melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork and solid baby back ribs for 65 years and you’re going to draw the following enjoyed by Shorty’s barbecue, with fast service and consistent cookery.
(7) Andiamo Brick Oven Pizza vs. (10) Flanigan’s Seafood Bar & Grill
This glass-walled, flat-iron spot at 55th Street Station has become a go-to MIMO spot for locals, particularly for its brick oven pizza, which ranges from the Genovese (rosemary potatoes, panchetta, caramelized onions) to the classic New Yorker with pulled mozzarella, basil and olive oil. Who doesn’t have one of those green Flanigan’s cups in their cupboard? No one, that’s who, because Flanigan’s has been the South Florida-based sports bar with cold beer and hot wings (though others prefer the baby back ribs) that has been a natural for Dolphins watch parties.
(2) Captain’s Tavern vs. (15) El Mago de las Fritas
Captain’s Tavern has nailed the secret to seafood success for more than 40 years: Make it affordable, make it accessible and make it delicious with fresh, locally caught seafood served in an unpretentious setting. Mago de las Fritas does one thing and does it better than possibly everyone else: frita Cuban hamburgers with its actual secret sauce, topped with crispy, fried potato strings and just a shot of ketchup and Crystal hot sauce, tucked inside a Cuban roll.