Seafood Delights

Exterior of Cayo Esquivel Restaurant in Hialeh Gardens. Photo: Joe Rimkus Jr.
Exterior of Cayo Esquivel Restaurant in Hialeh Gardens. Photo: Joe Rimkus Jr.

Northwest Miami-Dade may be too far inland to catch the briny ocean breezes, but these three restaurants still deliver on the fruits of the sea.

  • Though the Peruvian restaurant Lakes Seafood offers other entrees, it excels at fish, seafood and ceviche. Warm garlic rolls arrived with a jalapeno-and-cilantro-based sauce perfect for spooning over grilled corvina (sea bass), rice and plantains. Other standouts include the chrome-yellow huancaina sauce, a tangy mix of aji chiles, milk, onion, lime juice and farmers’ cheese; the cau-cau de mariscos, a hash of shrimp, scallops, calamari and potatoes with a confetti of carrots, peas and cilantro; and chicha morada, a sweet and refreshing drink made from purple corn. Dessert options include perfectly light babarrua, prunes enrobed in a fluff of meringue drenched with a vanilla cream sauce.
  • You might think you’ve taken a wrong turn as you head into a Hialeah Gardens warehouse district, but then you see Cayo Esquivel’s big neon fish sign beckoning. The busy, Cuban-style family restaurant and seafood market that takes some adventuresome turns. Portions are generous and the flaky corvina Morocco has a nice sear, a mild coconut curry sauce and a sweet dice of pineapple. Lobster-filled empanadas are creamy and a bargain and $2.25 each while flan comes in traditional and coconut varieties.
  • Flanigan’s, which has been around for more than 50 years and has 22 South Florida locations, may be better known for its baby back ribs and chicken wings, but it definitely has its sea legs. One thing I can guarantee is that you won’t go away hungry. New England clam chowder arrives in a heft bowl while garlic rolls are swimming in butter. Oversized seafood entrees include lemon-pepper tilapia and a pesto pasta loaded with a dozen juicy shrimp and chopped broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash and carrots. Dessert arrives courtesy of the Flanigan’s Shenanigan? Of course not- walnut apple pie with crumbled Heath bar, caramel and what seems like a pint of vanilla ice cream.