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Here’s where you should eat during Coral Gables Restaurant Week

Before Miami was a culinary destination, Coral Gables was delivering tried and true dining experiences that catered to most of our unfussy dining needs. We’ve got to admit that it’s done a heroic job of staying relevant as other neighborhoods open a new restaurant every week.

This week it will  continue to do so as it embarks on the ninth annual Coral Gables Restaurant Week. What does that mean for you? You get to experience 41 of the City Beautiful’s favorite restaurants at a reduced cost via three-course prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner.

Since there just aren’t enough meals in a day for you to try them all in a week, it goes through  June 26. That’s three weeks to gorge yourself on the best of the Gables.

But if 41 restaurants is still a bit daunting for you, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best spots to check out, in our opinion.

If you’re looking to spruce up your lunch break…

Angelique Euro Café ($23/lunch) is an underrated, quaint European-style bistro on Miracle Mile. It’s known for its brunch and is perfect for casual dates.

The must haves: The escargot provencal is a delightful teaser that will leave any adventurous diner satisfied. If your palate noshes on the comfort food side of the spectrum, their French fries are some of the best in town, and they come paired with the chicken and steak entrees.

Bulla Gastrobar ($19/lunch) serves Spanish tapas in a rustic chic environment.

The must haves: You shouldn’t leave without having the bomba de rabo de toro, which are potato croquettes stuffed with shredded oxtail and served with aioli and brava sauce to dip to your heart’s content. We also love the arroz negro with octopus, which is cooked with calamari ink.

Pro tip: Come in a large group and share the entire menu.

If you’re looking for a great weeknight dinner

Divino Ceviche’s ($23.99/dinner) Coral Gables outpost perfectly balances traditional, hearty Peruvian fare with lighter tangy and citrusy staples.

The must have: You’ll be licking the velvety Huancaina sauce from the mini causa de pollo —a skillful rendition of the Peruvian mashed-potato dish topped with shredded chicken — well into your second course.

Swine ($38/dinner) is good at any time of the day. That’s why we bet the barbecue child of the 50 Egg empire on the Ponce promenade will be a repeat destination during these three weeks.

The must haves: The Swine chicken biscuit nestles a fried chicken thigh in a maple black pepper biscuit doused with bacon aioli. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds. But it’s not as good as the tender and juicy smoked shredded brisket braised with Wynwood Brewing’s La Rubia Blonde and served with their fried brussel sprouts. You also can’t ever go wrong with the Swine burger.

Pro Tip: If the second story loft bar is available, treat yourself to a concoction made with their bacon infused bourbon.

Trust & Co. ($36/dinner) is an ingredient-driven newcomer that’s quickly becoming a favorite among locals and critics alike.

The must have: It’s definitely the bacon and date croquettes with a house-made membrillo compote. The creamy bechamel filling of manchego and chorizo melts in your mouth and has a sweet finish from the dates, packing an unexpected punch of flavor.

Pro tip: Budget for a splurge on their craft cocktails.

If you’re looking for bang for your buck

If your idea of treating yourself involves anything that could be weighed in ounces, then you shouldn’t overlook the array of steakhouses participating, including famed Morton’s and Ruth’s Chris.

MesaMar ($22/lunch; $38/dinner) will offer the pescatarians the same pay-by-the-pound satisfaction with its Latin fusion, surf-centric dishes that aim to elevate our local cuisine.

Must have: Their catch of the day. The restaurant is known for locally sourcing it and presenting it fresh to the table, and then preparing it either fried or grilled.

If you want to hit up a classic…

La Dorada ($48, both), a true Gables mainstay, is a Spanish institution known for importing fish, like its namesake royal sea bream, from Spain.

The must haves: Their gazpacho is the real deal, and the grilled baby lamb chops are finger licking delicious, but your best bet is the sea bass in a light green sauce with mussels and shrimp.

Pro tip: Their wine list is one of the best in the area.

Ortanique also offers the popular Caribbean dishes that helped place Miami cuisine on the national culinary map with daily rotating menus priced at $25 for lunch and $39 for dinner.

Just because we think they’re amazing…

Uvaggio is still the hidden gem of Coral Gables. This chic wine bar offers the most original, inviting and approachable wine menu and pairs it with gourmet bites.

The must have: The menu is pretty straightforward, but what will make your experience amazing is going all out and paying the extra $20 for the wine pairings.

Pro tips: Don’t leave without having a chat with owner and sommelier extraordinaire Heath Porter. Thank me later.

The Local, like a barrel-aged fine spirit, just keeps getting better with time. The first known craft beer bar in Miami has been under the helm of some of the most important chefs in town, but Phil Bryant has taken the southern fare to some seriously comforting heights.

Must have: Mark these three words: Hen And Dumplings. Nothing I say can prepare you for this delicious take on the traditional dish. As for entrees, you can’t go wrong with either the award-winning fried chicken or burger. However the fish and chips, which coats a catfish fillet with seasoned cornmeal, is a favorite of Norman Van Aken, the godfather of South Florida cuisine. Enough said. Editor’s note: This paragraph was edited to correctly reflect ingredients. 

Pro tip: they’ve got a pretty decked out mixology program, so you might want to trade a beer for one of their cocktails.

By Paula Echevarria
Born in Madrid, raised in Miami, bred in New Orleans: Paula is a gregarious locavore, cocktail groupie and Emmy award winning culinary producer currently working as a freelance writer and multimedia producer for local and national food and beverage publications and TV shows, including Tasting Table, The Miami New Times, Edible South Florida, MIA Bites and WPBT South Florida PBS's Check, Please! with Michelle Bernstein.