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Bucks Beer Garden Raleigh
By Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor

Looking for a fun, casual, and—dare we say—affordable evening in South Beach? You’re in luck. The iconic Raleigh South Beach {1775 Collins Avenue; Miami Beach 305.612.1163} recently introduced Buck’s Beer Garden & Bonfire, a laid-back German beer-garden-inspired event taking place the first and third Thursday of every month from 6 to 10pm. With a name inspired by the hotel’s antlered logo, this outdoor extravaganza takes place in the hotel’s Backyard Oasis, a tropical setting behind the pool.

Bucks Beer Garden Raleigh

Surrounded by bonfire pits and picnic tables, guests can enjoy an evening complete with food stations from Restaurant Michael Schwartz (think: bratwurst, kielbasa, knockwurst, and currywurst topped with sauerkraut and beer-bathed onions) and draft beer from local craft breweries that change each month. And the best part: it’s FREE to attend. You’ll have to option to “pay as you go,” by purchasing tickets for food, beer, wine, and other bar drinks (one ticket = $1).

Complimentary lawn games such as corn hole, ping pong, and giant Jenga will be on hand for guest entertainment while do-it-yourself s’mores kits can be purchased for fireside roasting.

Bucks Beer Garden Raleigh

The next Buck’s Beer Garden will take place this Thursday, April 2, at 6pm, featuring beers from Boca Raton’s Funky Buddha Brewery.


By Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor

With the highest Cuban population in the United States, it’s no wonder that Miami has some of the best and most authentic Cuban restaurants in the world. Here, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 picks, in no particular order.

1. Versailles {3555 Southwest 8th Street, Miami; 305.444.0240}
The “World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant,” has been serving up authentic Cuban cuisine for over 40 years. Since it opened on Calle Ocho back in 1971, Versailles has been the unofficial town square for Miami’s Cuban immigrants. The expansive menu overflows with tasty Cuban classics for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night bites, as the restaurant is open until at least 1am daily.

2. Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop {186 Northeast 29th Street, Wynwood; 305.573.4681}
If you ask any Cuban where to find the most authentic food from their native land, hands down the majority will tell you Enriqueta’s. Since 1965, this bustling Wynwood eatery has been a local favorite, serving up breakfast and lunch from its simple dining room and L-shaped coffee window. Affordable, fresh, and delicious, this is Cuban cuisine and its best.

3. Bread + Butter {2330 Salzedo Street, Coral Gables; 305.442.9622}
This Coral Gables eatery is the brainchild of Cuban-American Chef Alberto Cabrera, whose childhood nickname was Pan con Mantequilla (translation: Bread and Butter). Rustic-chic décor with exposed ceilings and chalkboard walls sets the tone for this casual spot, which offers a unique menu that marries traditional Cuban fare with the flavors of a modern American gastropub.

Bread and Butter

Bread + Butter’s Pan Con Tomate

4. Little Bread {541 Southwest 12th Avenue, Little Havana; 786.420.2672}
On the heels of the success of Bread + Butter, Chef Alberto Cabrera introduces Little Bread, a unique eatery whose focus is solely on Cuban sandwich culture. The Little Havana spot, which just opened this past December, offers some 15 scrumptiously innovative sandwiches. A must-try: the Media Noche Club, a combination of porchetta, ham, Emmenthal cheese, mustard caviar, and pickles.

5. La Carreta {multiple locations}
From the same people behind Versailles, La Carreta has become a casual go-to spot for Cubans throughout South Florida who are looking for authentic Cuban cuisine. The first La Carreta was founded on Calle Ocho back in 1976; today, the chain has nine locations throughout Miami, including Hialeah, Kendall, and Bird Road in addition to a very popular outpost at the Miami Airport.

6. Larios on the Beach {820 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; 305.532.9577}
Since the early ’90s, Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s internationally acclaimed restaurant has been one of South Beach’s top destinations for Cuban cuisine. The happening spot on Ocean Drive features a newly redesigned dining room, lively Cuban music, and world-famous mojitos, not to mention the “Calorie Conscious Cuban” menu (created by Gloria herself), which offers healthy spins on classic Cuban dishes.

Larios on the beach

Larios on the Beach

7. Puerto Sagua {700 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.673.1115}
Cool, casual, and cozy. Sometimes a “no-frills” lunch is exactly what a day at the beach calls for. This bustling South Beach eatery on Collins Avenue has been serving up tasty Cuban sandwiches, real Cuban coffee, ropa vieja, and other traditional dishes since the early 1960s.

8. Havana 1957 {multiple locations}
Classic Cuban cuisine meets the chic ambience and sophistication of 1950s Havana for a truly remarkable experience. Now with four locations, (Española Way, Lincoln Road, Brickell, and Pembroke Pines), Havana 1957 has become a must-visit for visitors and locals alike, providing a fun, family-friendly atmosphere that combines Cuban flavors, music, and vintage memorabilia.

9. Sergio’s {multiple locations}
“Simple, fresh, and homemade” is the motto of the family-run chain, which was established back in 1970 by a Cuban immigrant family. Today, the family’s dedication to using only best and freshest products has made Sergio’s one of the top destinations for Cuban comfort food in South Florida. Added bonus: easy online ordering and fast delivery.


Tapas from the new bar Sergio’s Kendall location

10. El Exquisito {1510 Southwest Eighth Street, Little Havana; 305.643.0227}
In 1974, the Coro family began their American dream by opening a small family-style restaurant in what is now the heart of Little Havana on Calle Ocho. The family operated the 20-seat restaurant for almost four decades, until they sold it to local entrepreneurs. They revitalized the space, which now seats about 100, but maintained its authentic feel, as El Exquisito serves the same homestyle dishes as it did when it first opened.

db Bistro moderne easter

By Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor

Still looking to make Easter brunch plans? Atrio Restaurant & Wine Room {1395 Brickell Avenue, Miami} isn’t the only place that’s celebrating this year. We’ve put together a roundup of some more of the best places to score a reservation for next Sunday, April 5.

db Bistro Moderne {JW Marriott Marquis, 255 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami; 305.421.8800}
From 11am-3:30pm, Chef Daniel Boulud’s Downtown Miami French bistro is offering a three-course prix-fixe menu for only $52 per person ($30 for children 10 and under). Click here for menu details.

Morton’s The Steakhouse {Locations in Brickell, Coral Gables, and North Miami}
All three Miami locations of the popular steakhouse will be open early for Easter Sunday. Along with the regular menu, Morton’s is offering a Steak and Lobster Special for only $55 per person.

The Oceanaire Seafood Room {Mary Brickell Village, 900 South Miami Avenue, Brickell; 305.372.8862}
The Oceanaire will be opening its doors at noon on Easter (it’s typically only open on Sundays for dinner). Along with its regular menu, the restaurant will be featuring special brunch items such as Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict, Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, and Brioche French Toast.

Oceanaire French Toast

The Biltmore Hotel {1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables; 855.311.6903}
Not only will the Biltmore be hosting its signature Sunday Champagne brunch buffet, but from now through Easter Sunday, it will be selling special chocolate Easter eggs handcrafted by Executive Pastry Chef Olivier Rodriguez. The confections have been filled with a variety of treats, from candy to complimentary massages, cabana rentals, and afternoon tea. Five lucky kids who find a golden ticket inside their chocolate egg will gain entrance to Chef Rodriguez’s Marvelous Chocolate Making Workshop, where they will learn how to make their own chocolate confections at The Biltmore Culinary Academy.

Bulla Gastrobar {2500 Ponce De Leon Boulevard, Coral Gables; 305.441.0107}
For only $27 per person (plus $15 per person if you opt for the bottomless mimosas and sangria), you can choose any three dishes from Bulla’s special Easter Brunch Tasting Menu, a delicious mix of huevos, tapas y raciones, platos familiars, and dulce. Expect offerings that include Cordero y Setas (braised lamb with crimini, oyster mushrooms, poached egg, and mint oil) and Voulevant con Espinacas (with creamed spinach, quail eggs, and hollandaise sauce)—and much more.

Bulla Easter

Larios on the Beach {820 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; 305.532.9577}
Keeping with tradition, Larios on the Beach will host its annual family-friendly Easter event. From 11am-4pm, guests can enjoy a special Easter menu, live entertainment, goodie bags, and even a visit from the Easter Bunny.

The Restaurant at The Setai {2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 855.923.7899}
The Setai will host its Easter Sunday Jazz Brunch featuring an endless array of gourmet offerings, bottomless Champagne, mouthwatering desserts, live jazz, and more. Guests dining with kids should not miss out on the exciting Easter Egg Hunt that will take place in the Courtyard at 11am. Cost is $110 per adult; $55 for children ages five-12.

Setai brunch

La Mar by Gastón Acurio {Mandarin Oriental Miami, 500 Brickell Key Drive, Brickell Key; 305.913.8358}
In addition to La Mar’s delectable Peruvian-inspired buffet brunch ($85 or $120 per person, including unlimited brunch cocktails and Champagne, $35 for kids ages 6-12), you can expect a fun-filled Easter-themed day at Mandarin Oriental. From 11am-noon, families are invited to participate in an Easter Egg Hunt on the hotel’s private beach, and from noon-2pm, the Easter Bunny will make an appearance, greeting children and posing for photos in the hotel’s lobby.

StripSteak {Fontainebleau Hotel, 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 877.326.7412}
Start the day off with a sumptuous complimentary signature cocktail. You’ll then select your choice of first and second courses in addition to enjoying a seasonal seafood bar, a Greek yogurt parfait station, and endless artisanal pastries, lavish sweets, and fresh fruit. Cost is $68 per adult, $34 per child ages 4-12. After brunch, take part in Fontainebleau’s annual Eater Eggstravaganza. From 2-4pm, kids and their parents can enjoy Easter treats, art and crafts, egg decorating, interactive family-friendly shows, and the hotel’s exciting Easter egg hunt.

wfm north miamiBy Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor

Let’s face it: eight days straight of matzo can get pretty boring. But lucky for you, in addition to offering all of your basic Seder needs, Whole Foods Market sells nearly 200 kosher for Passover items, many of which are brand-new and exclusive to the store. Products include:

    • Ungar’s Frozen MSC-Certified Gefilte Fish made with wild Alaskan pollack
    • Kedem Biodynamic Grape Juice, the first-ever domestically produced biodynamic grape juice made from New York state grapes.
    • Aviv Fruit Bars, the only kosher for Passover fruit bars on the market, developed exclusively for Whole Foods. Available in three flavors: Apple and Cinnamon, Date and Banana, and Date and Cacao.
    • Streit’s Quinoa, the first-ever kosher for Passover quinoa directly imported from Israel.
    • Rebecca & Rose cookies, brownies, and other baked goods, all certified kosher for Passover, including the first commercially available boxed Passover doughnuts.

Rebecca__Rose_Gluten_Free_Chocolate_Chip_CookiesBe sure to visit your nearest Whole Foods Market today and stock up on these and other delicious kosher for Passover products. More great news: the highly anticipated Downtown Miami location {299 Southeast Third Street; 305.995.0600} is now open!

USSA Sommelier CourseBy Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor

Wine lovers unite! If you’ve always wished you knew more about wine, but just didn’t have the time or the opportunity to learn, you’re in luck! USSA (United States Sommelier Association), a non-profit dedicated to promoting wine culture to amateurs, oenophiles, and industry professionals, offers informative, convenient, and easy-to-follow courses throughout the year. And lucky for you, the headquarters is located right here in Miami. Focusing on the practical aspects of enjoying and tasting wine, each class is led by an expert wine professional who covers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about vino—and more.

If you’re interested in getting your sommelier certification, be sure to sign up now for the upcoming United States Sommelier Certificate Immersion Course, which will take place at USSA’s Corporate Campus and Education Center {1111 Lincoln Road, Suite 400, Miami Beach} from Sunday, April 12 through Friday, April 17.

USSA Wine Course

The course includes:

  • Tasting over 100 different premium labels from all over the world
  • A history of winemaking from ancient to modern times
  • Varietal component wine tastings with Le Nez du Vin 54 Master Aroma Kit
  • An in-depth look at the major wine-producing regions around the globe
  • An explanation of the three styles of wine: sparkling, still or light, and fortified
  • Food and wine pairings: 11 different foods with five of the most popular wine varietals
  • The art of the sabreur: Learn to saber the top of a Champagne bottle with a sword

USSA Wine TastingA premium selection of wines from around the world will be tasted, many tasted blind to make learning both interactive and fun. Upon completion of the course and passing both a written multiple choice test and tasting exam, students will receive their USSA Intermediate Sommelier Certificate.

For more information on the upcoming class and other courses and specials available, visit ussommelier.com.

By Erin Lavan | Associate Publisher 
On Thursday evening, DiningOut was invited to a wine tasting at a local downtown favorite, D’Oro Caffe and Market {17 Northeast Third Avenue, Miami; 305.371.6300}. D’Oro is a gem of a place, offering authentic Italian specialties, and the freshest French baguettes and croissants, flown in frozen and baked each day on premises. What we did not expect was that the fine selection of rosés and reds that would be paired with their fine cuisine.
Maria Zuniga of Premier Beverage led the tasting with a wealth of knowledge on this journey. First up was a an exceptionally dry, exquisite rosé named Miraval from Provence, France. Interestingly, this wine comes from a vineyard at the home of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and she in fact designed the beautiful bottle and label. This was paired with a delicate salad of romaine and feta with a tangy citrus bite to the dressing.
Next was a sparkling rosé a little darker in color due to the Malbec grape, called Alma Negra, which translates to “dark soul.”  It was paired with perfectly crusty and chewy bites of baguette topped with Italian tuna and fresh tomatoes, which perfectly cut the bubbles with their acidity, and brought out the depth of the “soul.”
Now for the reds. Maria proudly introduced us to Argentina’s king of Malbecs, Achaval Ferrer of Mendoza. This was a dark and powerful wine with a lot of complexity. The weight of this wine definitely needed some fat, and D’Oro Caffe came through with hearty chunks of Manchego nestled snuggly in their fine cut of capicola. The platter was artistically and deliciously decorated with nuts and raisins for even more flavor and texture.
D'Oro Platter
Finally, another Malbec from Argentina was served, from the Colomé Vineyard. This high elevation wine was exceptionally spicy, and its intensity was softened by a truly delectable ball of mozzarella topped with a housemade decadent raspberry glaze.
Each bottle retailed in the $30 range, and all of the food served is available for purchase at D’Oro. If you are lucky enough to be invited to one of D’Oro Caffe’s wine tastings, go! But, even if you are not, there is an “Italian Aperitivo” every evening from 5-8pm when D’Oro offers complimentary delicacies with your glass of wine.

Bright-By Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor

Located just across from the Townhouse and Setai hotels, Bâoli {1906 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.674.8822} has managed to keep a relatively low profile. But that doesn’t mean that this SoBe hot spot doesn’t draw a crowd. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Beautiful locals and the jet-set flock to this chic hot spot night after night for its lounge ambience, live DJs, and club-like atmosphere (after all, the The Bâoli Group is best known for its trendy restaurants and lounges in Cannes, France).

While Bâoli is oft pegged as a late-night destination, many may not realize is that it is also an elegant Mediterranean and Asian-inspired restaurant with a tranquil foliage-filled outdoor patio that’s perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a romantic date, a business dinner, or a girls’ night out. We were lucky enough to score a table here recently and couldn’t have been more impressed by the sheer volume of menu options, the beautiful presentation, and the impeccable service.

Greg O'SullivanBe sure to come early and have a seat at the hip outdoor bar, where head bartender and master mixologist Greg O’Sullivan will whip you up a tasty cocktail from his expertly crafted menu of signature drinks to tempt even the most discerning palate. Choose from fruity favorites such as the Summer Fresh, an amalgamation of Absolut Citron, St. Germaine, lemongrass-infused agave syrup, lemon juice, and pineapple; or the Bâoli Pear Spirit, Absolut Pears Vodka, St. Germaine, Perrier Jouet Grand Brut, club soda, and lemon juice.

Next, sink into one of the comfy booths or quiet tables and let your server guide you on an incredible journey of regions and flavors. Executive Chef Gustavo Vertone blends his Italian-Argentinian background into his own unique interpretation of modern Mediterranean and Asian cuisine. In the mood for sushi? Bâoli offers over a dozen perfectly prepared and presented sushi and sashimi rolls. Our recommendation here: the Mango Tango roll, a perfect combination of shrimp tempura, asparagus, cucumber, and spicy mayo topped with avocado, hamachi, and mango salsa.

Hamachi Sashimi TacosIn the mood for Italian? Try the Heirloom Tomato and Burrata appetizer, a gooey blob of creamy mozzarella cheese paired with fresh tomatoes. Other menu must-tries include the Hamachi Sashimi Tacos appetizer, the Charbroiled Octopus Salad, and the Truffle Mac ’n Cheese, and Bâoli Kobe Burger—worth every penny of its $50 price tag! Make sure you leave room for dessert, too, as all options are made in house and include a Warm Chocolate Fondant and Banana Rum Pudding, and Green Tea Brûlée.

Baoli Burger

And the best part is that after dinner, there’s no need to hail a cab and relocate to your next venue of the evening—this is it! The party gets going around 11pm and continues well into the wee hours of the morning.


By Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor

Easter is just around the corner, and Sunday brunch reservations are filling up quickly. Don’t wait until the last minute; book your table now with Atrio Restaurant & Wine Room {Conrad Miami, 1395 Brickell Avenue, Brickell; 305.503.6529}. Enjoy sweeping views of the city and bay—some of the best views in town—from the restaurant’s chic 25th floor while relishing an expansive buffet with an array of flavorful options:

  • A prime seafood bar featuring shrimp cocktail, peel-and-eat shrimp, assorted sushi, and smoked salmon accompanied by mignonette, cocktail sauce, and mustard dip
  • Seasonal salads such as the Mango Lobster; Three Sister Green and Yellow Bean, Orzo Pasta and Minted Zucchini; Mini Tuna Salad Niçoise; and Gazpacho
  • A charcuterie and antipasto display
  • A traditional carving station featuring Roast Angus Rib-Eye with roasted duck fat potatoes and Whole Salt-Crusted Scottish Salmon with Champagne beurre blanc

And be sure to save room for the decadent dessert station, featuring carrot cake, chocolate pudding, sponge cake, ginger banana pudding, and Easter cupcakes.

Fun for the whole family, the Atrio Easter brunch offers kids fun activities such as arts and crafts and a cookie-decorating station. And who knows, maybe the Easter Bunny will make a surprise appearance.

Easter Brunch at Atrio will take place on Sunday, April 5, from 11:30am-3pm. Cost is $75 per adult and $24 per child. Children under 5 dine free. For reservations, call 305.503.6529.


Photo courtesy of Perfecto

By Richard Temple | Contributing Writer 

It takes a great deal of chutzpah to call your restaurant ‘Perfecto.’ However, the eponymous Spanish tapas restaurant on Brickell Avenue manages to get away with it as the food is as near perfect as it gets.

Perfecto {50 Brickell Avenue, Miami; 305.372.0620} is the offshoot of a restaurant in Barcelona, which probably explains why the tapas are so remarkable.

Brickell Avenue at night is not exactly a hot spot for restaurants, so to succeed. a restaurant there has to be both consistently good and different. And Perfecto scores on both fronts. The presentation of the dishes is superb as is the taste and the originality of the cooking.

The success of Perfecto, which is owned by Catalan Restaurateur Oscar Manresa, can be attributed to the extraordinary range of tapas produced by Chef Angel Gonzalez, who is originally from La Rioja.

Canelon de Aguacate (Photo Courtesy of Perfecto)

Canelon de Aguacate (Photo Courtesy of Perfecto)

I don’t know if Chef Gonzalez would call it his signature dish, but for me the standout is Avocado Cannelloni made with tender slices of avocado wrapped around crab meat, tomato, and coriander–Cannelloni with not a glimpse of pasta in sight. It tastes as good–no, better–than it looks, which is saying a lot. The Octopus Perfecto is another superb dish.

For the dedicated carnivore, there’s a divine Steak Tartare made with tenderloin and truffled egg yolk. You will also probably want to experience the Crispy Suckling Pig with mashed potatoes and olive sauce.


Tartare de Tomate (Photo Courtesy of Perfecto)

There’s a nice terrace with live music if you don’t want to eat inside and valet parking, which is a must on Brickell.

They say you eat first with your eyes and then with your palate. Well, the presentation of the dishes at Perfecto is certainly a pleasure to behold. There’s also a good wine list with a number of interesting and not over-priced Spanish wines, including some attractive Ribereas del Duero, which are some of my personal favorites.

Perfecto’s is a great place to go with friends and share lots of delicious and unusual dishes.

By Sherri Balefsky | Contributing Writer

South Beach eatery Siena Tavern {404 Washington Avenue; 305.534.5577} recently introduced its own rendition of happy hour to the South of Fifth neighborhood with its daily Cicchetti (che-kett-ee) menu. In Venetian tradition, cicchetti is the name used to describe the small plates and appetizers that are typically offered in pubs at the end of the work day.

From 6-8pm daily, Siena Tavern now offers such dishes along with specialty cocktails at unbeatable happy hour prices. Choose from antipasti favorites such as Frito Misto, meatballs, and salumi and cheese boards for just $7 each; East or West Coast oysters for just $2 each; and classic pizzette offerings at for only $9 each. As for drinks, specialties include housemade sangría (a Siena Tavern favorite), negronis, Moscow mules, and other classic cocktails, all for just $7 in addition to $4 draft beers and $6 house wines.

But that’s not the only thing that’s noteworthy here. Join Siena Tavern every Saturday and Sunday for an impressive brunch featuring everything you could possibly want from a brunch menu—and more. (Think: Caramelized Waffles, Almond Pancakes, and Tiramisù French Toast.)


It’s the perfect setting for larger groups, as there’s the option to mix your own breakfast beverage concoctions by ordering either the Bloody Mary or mimosa kits. The Bloody Mary kit comes with a bottle of Absolut vodka along with housemade Bloody Mary mix, celery sticks, dill pickle spears, and olives, along with cubed mortadella and fontina cheese skewers. Likewise, the mimosa kit includes a bottle of Veuve Clicquot for the table served with freshly squeezed orange juice and two seasonal juice purées such as blood orange and elderflower or cucumber limoncello.


So if you’re looking a new place to earn your “regular” status, whether it’s a relaxed after-work hangout or a libatious weekend brunch spot, Siena Tavern has you covered.