Restaurant News & Reviews

This downtown Greek bistro looks plucked from a Greek isle

Flaming cheese saganaki ignited with Greek brandy, served as a mezze, is a featured dish at Meraki Greek Bistro in downtown Miami.
Flaming cheese saganaki ignited with Greek brandy, served as a mezze, is a featured dish at Meraki Greek Bistro in downtown Miami. Linda Bladholm

Meraki Greek Bistro seems like it was transported from an Aegean island complete with Greek music soundtrack.

There’s an open air patio with hanging birdcages filled with plants and the interior is white with upside down baskets as hanging light shades. There are wood planters filled with succulents hung by the metal spiral staircase to the upstairs lounge. Wood crates attached to the wall behind the counter are filled with Greek wines.

Meraki Greek looks like it was designed on a Greek isle. Linda Bladholm

Start with These Dishes

The trio of dips including hummus, melitzanosalata (eggplant salad with lemon and garlic) and tzatziki with Kalamata olives and pita. Linda Bladholm

The Greek cheese platter with brined feta, hard salty sheep’s milk vlahotiri, goat cheese and tyrokafteri (spicy feta spread mixed with red peppers, yogurt and olive oil) are all good with pita. Try the garlicky, smoky, lemony meli-salad made with charred, roasted eggplant, served as a dip with warm pita triangles.

There’s also herb-dusted fried zucchini slices, shrimp saganaki in tomato sauce with feta, and tiropitakia, crispy phyllo-wrapped melty feta cheese-filled envelopes sprinkled with sesame seeds and drizzled in honey. Dakos is Greek bruschetta with chopped tomatoes and feta on thick bread rusks that soak up the olive oil and oregano dressing. You can never go wrong with a pork, lamb or chicken gyro in pita with tzatziki, onions and fries.

Share These Dishes

Shrimp and feta saganaki in tomato sauce with basil. Linda Bladholm

Poikilies are family size platters. The mezze platters include loukaniko pork sausage seasoned with orange peel, fennel seeds and herbs, meatballs, lamb kebabs, feta and stuffed grape leaves. The seafood platter has chargrilled octopus, crispy calamari, and shrimp kebabs served with orzo tossed with lemon aioli. Diners can also put together their own platters of skewers from the souvlaki bar, including bacon wrapped chicken, seasonal vegetables and lamb, chicken, shrimp or pork. Or try the grilled chicken “ribs” (chopped up bone-in chicken) with fries and a traditional Greek salad. The Aegean chicken breast is stuffed with spinach, ricotta and caramelized onions, wrapped in bacon and plated with lemon potatoes and chicken gravy. A veggie pasta includes baked eggplant, zucchini and squash.

Save Room for Dessert

Tiropitakia phyllo wrapped envelopes stuffed with creamy feta sprinkled with sesame seeds and drizzled in honey, a specialty of Crete. Linda Bladholm

Galaktoboureko is a square of semolina custard, baked in phyllo sheets soaked in sugar syrup.

What Makes It Special

The owners, friends and business partners are Alex Karavias and executive chef Giannis Kotsos. As much as his father — who once worked as a chef on the mega-yacht Christina owned by Aristotle Onassis — didn’t want Karavias to work in restaurants, it was in his blood. After a weekend in Miami he moved here and met Kostos, a native of Athens at Kouzina in Midtown, and they opened Meraki last year. The restaurant’s name means to “put something of yourself into what ever you do,” which the partners here are doing with heart and soul.

If you go

The place: Meraki Greek Bistro

Address: 142 SE 1st Avenue, Miami

Contact: 786-773-1535,

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m, Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday; Noon-11 p.m Saturday. Noon-9 p.m., Sunday

Prices: Appetizers $4.99-$12.99, entrees $10.99-$18.99, desserts $4.99-$7.99