When you think of Miami Beach the first things that come to mind are clubs, bars, and expensive restaurants — and maybe turmoil. But few know that there’s another side of the city: the family-friendly and relaxed Normandy Isle.
North of the craze and gentrification of South Beach, this mostly residential area may not be on everyone’s list of top places to visit. Yet it is a microcosm of the diversity the Magic City. And like everywhere in Miami, a variety of cultures is followed by a variety of flavors.
So, without further delay, we present to you what we consider the top five restaurants in the Normandy Isle area.
Las Vacas Gordas
933 Normandy Dr.
Las Vacas Gordas (the fat cows in Spanish) has been a friend to Miami meat-lovers since 1996. This Argentinian-style steak house combines the best cuts with an extensive wine menu that is sure to satisfy your carnivorous cravings. Yet good things don’t come cheap, and this place will test your wallet.
The signature dish is La Enrollada, a 1.5-pound roll of meat that for $59.99 guarantees you will leave the restaurant looking like a vaca gorda. We tried a picada for $29.99. It included a mixture of chorizos, ravioli, olives, and lunch meats.
However, food is just half of the experience at this restaurant. The decor provides a chic setting that includes a unique, quirky cow pattern printed on everything from the walls to the chair’s furry upholstery.
1211 71st St.
At this place, you will feel as though you are not in a restaurant but in somebody’s home. It provides an experience that pleases both your hunger and mind with a welcoming and antique decor.
The menu includes only six main dishes, so it is obvious this spot prioritizes quality over quantity. We tried the Silverlake Burger, a simple yet juicy plate that exceeded our already high expectations. Its sweet mix of sirloin and ribeye meat combined with white cheddar and porcini mayo made every bite feel worth the $19 cost.
Aside from the main menu, we suggest ordering from the small plates section. Notably, we recommend the Flaky Brie, bacon and Onions Flat Bread, a small artisan pizza that serves as the perfect appetizer for all the other deliciousness this bistro offers.
1130 Normandy Dr.
This business might be easy to miss because of its small size and quiet nature. But it is a must-try if you’re looking for some Venezuelan food and want to stay away from the bustle of the beach. Its casual environment makes it perfect for an afternoon of studying. Yet, do not let its tranquil vibes prevent you from bringing your friends as the menu and setting are designed for small talks and informal gatherings.
What this restaurant lacks in size it makes up with a large menu. Offering 18 different types of arepas, 13 styles of empanadas, and 14 lunch options, 7tyone brings the best of the land of Bolivar to Normandy Isle.
We recommend the pabellón criollo, a Venezuelan staple dish with white rice, black beans, platanitos, avocado, fried cheese, and shredded beef for $13.99.
George’s Restaurant and Lounge
300 72nd St.
A family-owned restaurant, George’s is the perfect place for a date or a special occasion. With a dark formal ambiance, this spot feels high-class. But do not let its classy style fool you as it is budget-friendly.
Well in tone with its Mediterranean roots, this restaurant offers a good selection of pasta with standout options of seafood dishes. We decided to go with the Linguine Gamberi, an $18.95 pasta plate made up of shrimp, porcini mushroom, spinach, mozzarella, and truffle oil.
However, the part of the menu that caught our taste buds’ attention was the appetizers. Specifically, the Calamari e Zucchini, a $15.95 mountain of fried squid rings and zucchini served with spicy marinara sauce and lemon.
920 71st St.
At this place you have to be quick or your food will float right past you. A sharp eye, fast hands, and a good taste for sushi are the key requirements to enjoying the Katana experience. This tiny spot stands out among Japanese restaurants by having its customers pick their food from a series of small boats moving around a little water canal. The colors of each plate indicate the prices, which range from $2.90 to $11.90. You never know what’s coming next, but you know it’s going to be good.
We advise you to get there early, as it tends to fill up quickly. Yet, even with a line outside, the wait is worth it.