Once Brightline’s ambitious MiamiCentral station opens with all its projected bells and whistles, the station itself may prove destination-worthy. If all goes as planned, that is.
Right now, the station is a construction site. The good news is that it sits within walking distance or a short ride from Overtown’s historic Lyric Theatre, museums, the American Airlines Arena and other downtown attractions.
The MiamiCentral station, which sits on the eastern edge of Overtown, will be part of an 11-acre project that includes a food hall featuring a restaurant by celebrity chefs Michael and Bryan Voltaggio, plus retail shops, a couple of residential towers and office space.
The high-speed train, which already runs between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, starts service to Miami on Saturday, May 19, Brightline officials said Friday.
But when the privately funded train starts rolling into MiamiCentral, chances are little else will be up and running at the station. The food hall, Central Fare, is still under construction. The hall is not expected to open until fall, says a rep, Valentina Baragaño.
On deck to open first, according to Baragaño, are Parliament Espresso (a national chain of coffee bars owned by Starr Catering) and Joe & The Juice (a Copenhagen-based chain of juice bars with specialty coffee offerings).
Next comes Einstein Bros. Bagels, which comes to MiamiCentral as part of a business partnership that includes Miami Heat star Udonis Haslem. That partnership will also bring a Starbucks to the station early next year.
Expected in the fall, the more complete Central Fare food hall promises more of a foodie experience. The hall’s planned purveyors include Kuenko (a casual Japanese-Spanish spot by Michelin-starred chef Ricardo Sanz), 800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen (a pizzeria with locations on the west coast of the country as well as in Dubai, Japan and Qatar), Rosetta (a Miami Beach-based Italian bakery) and other not-yet-announced concepts.
However, it may be a while before the food hall’s centerpiece concept opens. That’s Monger, the Voltaggio brothers’ restaurant and their first collaboration in Florida, their parents’ home state. It promises a grocery store-inspired experience in which diners create their own dishes by visiting an onsite butcher counter, a fishmonger and green grocer. Opening date for Monger will be announced closer to the food hall’s opening, says Baragaño.
So, bottom line: MiamiCentral’s food life is has yet to come together.
But, hey, it’s Miami. A food lover from counties north has enough options to make the trip worthwhile. Here are some nearby spots and hubs worth exploring.
Verde at the PAMM
Grab an alfresco seat, order a rosé sangria and take in some of the best views of Miami and Biscayne Bay at Verde, the casual restaurant at the Pérez Art Museum Miami.
There are smallish but decent lunch and brunch menus here.
Hours are Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Wednesday. 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-345-5697
- Slurp a few oysters at Mignonette. Chef Danny Serfer’s excellent seafood bar serves lunch and dinner. 210 NE 18th St., Miami; 305-374-4635
- Enjoy a leisurely latte at Books & Books, which anchors a corner of the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center. The bookstore café is a good spot for a quick meal before a show. 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-405-1744
- Head to Bayside for some of Miami’s most traditional Nicaraguan cooking at Los Ranchos. Have your churrasco with a side of gallo pinto (red beans and rice, cooked together), plantains and a bay view. Lunch and dinner is served. 401 Biscayne Blvd., space N200, Miami; 305-375-0666
- Wander into Niu Kitchen for some legit Spanish tapas and vino – it’s smack in the middle of downtown. 134 NE 2nd Ave., Miami; 786-542-5070
Take a ride service and head to the river. Grab a river-view perch at Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill for whole fried Florida fish and a mojito. The place was founded by a couple of fishermen brothers who once ran a wonderful fresh-catch stand on nearby Watson Island. The fish market is now part of the restaurant. Casablanca serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. 400 N. River Dr., Miami; 305-371-4107
From the MiamiCentral station, walk just west to the Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre Metrorail station and take a train to the Brickell station. (Or hop in an Uber.) The Brickell station sits across from The Shops at Mary Brickell Village, home to many a lively, upscale spot. 901 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-381-6130
Or head over to the newish Brickell City Centre, where you’ll find La Centrale Italian Food Hall, as well as other noteworthy restaurants including the upscale Uruguayan steakhouse Quinto La Huella, golf star Ernie Els’ Big Easy Wine Bar & Grill, Pubbelly Sushi and Tacology. 701 S. Miami Ave., Miami
If you’re craving something fancier, take a ride service to chef Jose Andres’ restaurant, Bazaar Mar at the SLS Brickell. 1300 S. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-615-5859
Grab a ride service to Little Havana. Have the driver deliver you to 1615 SW 8th St. That’s the address of Ella’s Oyster Bar, a prime example of Calle Ocho’s new flavors. Start with an oyster shooter – it’s one of the most delicious shots you’ll find in Miami. If you’re hoping to find a traditional Cuban spot, you’ll find an authentic one across the street at El Exquisito (1510 SW 8th St., Miami; 305-643-0227).
The stretch around 16th Ave is a good starting point for a quick walk along one of Miami’s most famous and historic streets.
- Walk one block east to 15th Ave and you’ll find the iconic Domino Park – just follow the sounds of domino tiles slapping on game tables.
- Cross the street for some Miami-style tapas (hola, congri fritters!) at Ball & Chain, the hotspot where some of Miami’s hottest Latin dance bands play (1513 SW 8th St., Miami; 305-643-7820).
- That same block is home to one of Little Havana’s favorite sweet shops, Azucar Ice Cream (1503 SW 8th St., Miami; 305-381-0369).
- And if you’re in the mood for a movie, check out the historic Tower Theater (1508 SW 8th St., Miami; 305-237-2463).
- Some blocks north and west, you’ll find Doce Provisions, a cozy spot serving updated Cuban-American comfort food. Fair warning: Guy Fieri and his Food Network crew were just there this month, shooting for an upcoming episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” 541 SW 12 Ave., Miami; 786-452-0161
Fieri and his camera crew are no strangers to Miami. Clearly, they’re hip to what Miami natives have known all along: There’s some magical grub in the Magic City.
All Aboard Florida, which operates Brightline, is owned by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC, a global investment management firm. Fortress Investment Group LLC is contracted to manage and advise New Media Investments Inc., which owns GateHouse Media, the parent company of The Palm Beach Post.