Hello Miami! We meet yet again.
I’m in my old stomping grounds, taking a little trip from Costa Rica, with the main aim of grabbing my dog Zen and bringing him back with me so I can stay and live the pura vida a bit longer. Besides grabbing Zen, I was supposed to run Ragnar Appalachians in West Virginia. Ragnar is one of my favorite races, and I was very much looking forward to this event. But running has been having a bad year for me, because this was the third race (Charlotte, NC and San Jose, CR half marathons being the first two) that slipped my hands. Our team disassembled last minute, to put it shortly.
But I decided not to have that ruin my spirits, and instead enjoyed Miami like a tourist! Let me tell you, it is so much more fun to be a tourist, than to live here! Living in South Florida has it’s perks (beach and summer year long topping the charts), but it surely has it’s disadvantages, which is why I left almost two years ago. What disadvantages you ask? For starters, it gets too hot here during the summer summer months. I know, blasphemy, no such thing as too hot you’ll say.. I used to think that. But no, not anymore! The people, the traffic, it all got to me at one point.
But after almost two years of exploring San Francisco Bay, Asheville, and now Costa Rica (boy a lot has happened), I am genuinely happy to be back in Miami!
One of the best changes I have seen around this town – the growth of veganism! New restaurants, shops, lifestyle is shifting all around. I have written about vegan dining in Miami before, from my last visit for my 30th birthday. This time around I got to visit and review seven new delicious eateries (and an eight one that I’ve reviewed before)!
Newly opened eatery under the guide of a famous raw vegan chef Matthew Kenney was just as fancy and decadent as I expected. I have been following Kenney for a few years now on social media, considering taking his raw food courses, and drooling over his artful food photography.
Our meals were just as artistic as his Instagram feed suggests! The food was colorful, very healthy, light yet filling.
Acyuta had a delicious raw lasagna – it’s one of our favorite things to order when on the menu, and it didn’t disappoint. Both the marinara and raw cheese were fantastic.
I love to take advantage of a good deal (because this place is fancy, and by fancy I mean pricy) and I tried the Chef’s Lunch. It included an MK bowl, which is delicious greens and veggies with raw crackers and red quinoa, and it comes with a choice of dessert. One tip – if you are in a fine dine vegan restaurant, a dessert is not to be missed! We ended our feast with a delicious creme brûlée, macadamia ice cream and caramel sauce.
I am not sure if MK did this intentionally, but the restaurant isn’t easy to find – at all. It gives out a very exclusive vibe because of it, but there were no signs outside or on the building, no restaurant name visible anywhere but the menus, and the doors of the yard were barely open as well. Google maps brought us to the place but it was hard to tell that there was a restaurant there at all. Luckily I am persistent! Once you do make it in, you will find yourself in a mini oasis – the place is simply gorgeous. Both the outdoor seating, complete with a pool and green plants, and indoor space are calming, simple yet elegant.
The gist: Fully vegan, very high raw menu with high quality organic ingredients.
Atmosphere: Fancy, date night or celebration. Or you know, Miami’s finest crowd just chilling on a Tuesday afternoon.
A new vegan cafe sprung up in Hollywood/Ft.Lauderdale area, my old neighborhood and just a few miles from my old yoga studio – sounds like a perfect location. After a great yoga practice in my old studio, I took the opportunity to lunch and reconnect with Cathy, a friend and fellow teacher (who became an instructor at age 69 and is a true inspiration).
Clovermint has a charming atmosphere, and a typical cafe menu that even non-vegans will understand and find delicious! You can find eats that are free of gluten and refined sugar as well, but don’t have an overly ‘healthy’ vibe that I know some people shy away from. I had Sunflower seed tuna melt, which was raw sunflower pate with delicious cheddar cheese melt on top. Next time, I’m hoping to try the raw pad thai. Acyuta was very excited for the brunch menu and devoured a plate of apple pancakes with gusto.
The gist: Vegan and gluten free comfort foods and drinks.
Atmosphere: Casual cafe.
Price: Affordable, in line with vegan restaurant prices.
I got to visit another vegan addition to Hallandale, Fl last time I was here in May, with a great group of yoga friends and teachers. We attended a teacher training together and I was very happy to reconnect with them all, but I was almost as happy to try all the delicious vegan treats on the menu! We started off with house made bread and dips, and refreshing drinks of hibiscus, mint and ginger.
They had just introduced a new item on the menu, stir fried glass noodles, and it seemed to have been a hit from the start because half of the restaurant was eating it when we walked in, and half of our table ordered it. A shared dessert of middle eastern pudding, with pistachios and rose water, sealed the deal. The portions are generous (which always makes me happy), the food fresh, mostly organic and innovative. I didn’t see a meal that seemed boring or predictable, and I genuinely hope to visit again.
The gist: Mix of well-known and innovative menu options, all vegan.
Atmosphere: Casual, lunch date.
Price: A dollar or two over affordable.
I visited this restaurant before and reviewed it in my first dining guide for Miami, but since I got to eat there again this time around I figured it deserved another mention. I liked their kombucha on tap, the hearty meals and artistic presentation. They have a part of their menu called 10 under 10 for all those trying not to waste their whole paycheck on vegan eats (it has happened before and I am looking at your Whole Foods Market). From cheesy fries to burritos of all kinds, Choices is a great choice (pun intended) for all, from those on a healthy eating diet, as they have a great selection of salads, to those looking for a vegan junk food overload with anything from nachos to fries to cakes.
Because of the backdoor patio, this is a great restaurant for my whole family, as I can bring Zen, my dog with me! He likes their food too.. I had a hearty salad with ‘chicken’ and delicious vegan cheese and mayo on top, which was big enough to share between me and Acyuta, as we both like to sample as many things from the menu as possible.
The gist: All vegan, promises 95% organic foods
Atmosphere: Casual, back patio that allows dogs.
A new juice bar opened in Kendall, which is a sign that the world is changing! My mother in law lives in that part of town, so I have lived and stayed there many times. When in Kendall, I always felt like I was in the heart of America, with huge convenience stores, old school diners, movie theaters and oversized parking lots.. you get the point. Vegan cake and green juice weren’t on the menu – until now!
Roots is a small bar in a shopping center, offering juices, smoothies, snacks, some breakfast and lunch items, and desserts. I was just passing by when I saw the sign, and I had to stop in to check it out! I got cashew milk, which tasted like cake in a bottle! I also got a slice of real vegan carrot cake to go, which was good, but lacked cream in my taste. We Europeans like lots of cream, little dough, while American cakes seem to be build on lots of cake, and little frosting just for taste. It’s wrong if you ask me, but what can you do. I’m looking forward to trying a dragonfruit smoothie and some lunch preparations next time I’m there.
The gist: Vegan and raw food and juices of good quality.
Atmosphere: Juice bar-ish, has seating.
Price: 8$ per juice, you decided if that’s pricy or not (for a juice bar).
Mellow mushroom is a chain of pizzerias that tailor to vegans. We had one in Asheville as well, although I never visited – Asheville had a lot of vegan options as is. They offer daiya cheese and a gluten free crust, and you can access their vegan menu online or in store – meaning you don’t have to ask the waiter “What’s vegan on the menu?” and hope they know what that means. As a matter of fact, our waiter was well prepared to answer any questions, which is not common for a place that isn’t fully vegan or vegetarian.
The atmosphere is cool and colorful, with plenty of entertainment inside with TVs, loud music, funky seating arrangements, and even a hippie van at the entrance that serves as a waiting area. We chose to sit outside, which was much more quiet (even in Miami), and enjoy the light evening breeze. We came a few minutes before closing time, but they were super nice and attended to us, as the restaurant was full of people still, which would mean it’s pretty popular. I had a Mega Veggie Pizza with tofu, and a Spinach salad without feta. The fact that they offer tempeh and tofu, besides a vegan cheese substitute, is a big deal in my book.
The gist: Pizzeria known for vegan options.
Atmosphere: Party time, teenage friendly, pizza while watching the game type of a place.
Price: Slightly pricy, specially compared to a regular pizza place.
Now this place brings back memories.. I’ve been visiting the Beehive since I first came to Miami. It is a health food store with a restaurant in the back, ran by a cool Brazilian vegan chef dude. You sit at a bar and chat, listening to people’s stories and cracking jokes – an atmosphere that isn’t easily duplicated. It has relocated to a bigger location since I last visited, but it still has the same vibe. I love the fact I can shop for chia seeds and Ayurvedic herbs, while drinking raw juice and eating vegan pie.
The Brazilian’s (which is what my husband and I call the place) is a restaurant that offers very healthy raw juices, but his foods, although also very healthy, have a very comforting flavor to them. He makes a lot of his foods at home (or in a bigger kitchen, I honestly don’t know) and he brings the foods in around midday for lunch. You can taste that specific touch that only homemade dishes have. His dishes are quite unique, South American and Brazilian traditional recipes with a vegan twist. I’m happy he moved to a larger location and warmly recommend the place!
The gist: Homemade vegan foods, raw juices, superfoods all over
Atmosphere: Unique bar seating with lots of people watching and connecting opportunities
Price: Not affordable but not ridiculous.
First night we arrived, my brother in law picked us up at the airport and we went straight to this restaurant to celebrate my husband’s cousin’s birthday. I like to party like that.. Luckily his family knows us and chose a restaurant with vegan options. I was very happily surprised by this place! It’s a typical Miami restaurant, quite large, and it was jam packed on a Wednesday night, with the Olympics and games playing on TVs all over, people cheering and celebrating. Yard house has quite a few locations in Miami, as well as all over the states.
The menu indicates vegetarian options, and our waiter was helpful. They have a whole section dedicated to Gardain preparations (that’s a brand of vegan meat substitutes that I often prepare at home). The guys got traditional burgers with sweet potato fries, on whole wheat toast instead of a bun. I got a delicious hearty and large kale salad, and of course shared it with Acyuta as I sampled the burger. It was good stuff! Another place that restored my faith in Miami going vegan!
The gist: Elegant restaurant for lunch or dinner with decent vegan options.
Atmosphere: For everyone, great place to take your non-vegan friends and family.
Price: Appropriate for the level of service and atmosphere.