Coral Gables blossoms as culinary center

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Consider our off-campus food options and your thoughts might not go much further than T.G.I. Friday’s, Gables Pizza & Salad, and Bagel Emporium. But UM students are lucky that campus is located in Coral Gables, not a nutritionless fast-food wasteland that is a true college town. While South Beach is South Florida’s culinary capital, Coral Gables is catching up. In the past several months, upscale restaurants with creative concepts have been popping up – many gastropubs in the mix – and they offer meals at prices that aren’t so outrageous that students can’t afford to dine somewhere new at least once a month. These are The Miami Hurricane’s top picks for new restaurants to try out.

SushiSamba Coral Gables

The SushiSamba on Lincoln Road has been a South Beach destination for more than 10 years, but now Coral Gables has one to call its own. In May, this new location opened inside of the Westin Colonnade Hotel. That means UM students can enjoy Latin-Asian fusion from a restaurant that blends three international cuisines: Brazilian, Peruvian and Japanese. Stop by during Samba Hour — 4 to 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. until closing time Monday through Friday – for cheap eats (like $7 for yellowtail taquitos with avocado and roasted corn miso) and even cheaper cocktails. Better yet, Coral Gables has something that South Beach doesn’t: breakfast starting at 7 a.m. Stumble out of bed before class and order a hearty $14 Brazilian breakfast including eggs, ham and cheese bread, linguiça pork sausage, sweet papaya and potato hash.

SushiSamba is located on 180 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. For more information, call 305-448-4990 or visit

Swine Southern Table & Bar

The chicken-themed Yardbird restaurant was a roaring success (it was named Florida’s only Best New Restaurant in 2012 by Bon Appetit), so the 50 Eggs restaurant group thought, “Why not try it again, but with pork?” Swine is an upscale barbecue joint that opened this past March. Bacon lovers, Swine is for you. From the fried green tomato BLT featuring Heritage Acres Farm pork belly, to the Brussels sprouts  in bacon vinaigrette, these guys aren’t trying to keep things Kosher. Supper plates range from traditional pork and beans to a plate of bacon and waffles (with chilled spiced watermelon, honey hot sauce and bourbon maple syrup — whose mouth is watering?). We say, try the pulled pork Caesar. Because this isn’t Yardbird, and 50 Eggs has banned chicken in these here parts of Coral Gables. Just try it. In case You Only Swine Once.

Swine Southern Table & Bar is located on 2415 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Coral Gables. For more information, call 786-360-6433 or visit 

Bread + Butter Counter

Situated on Miracle Mile since February, here the eats are modern Cuban. At Bread + Butter, that means classics with a twist. And not a drizzle-of-truffle-oil twist. More like an “Ay dios mio!” kind of twist. We’re talking a pan con lechon served in a steamed Chinese bao bun. Whether you’re craving some Nuevo Cubano cuisine for lunch in between classes or want a Miami-style dinner after a long e-board meeting in the evening, pan con mantequilla is the way to go. Don’t forget about the weekend daytime must: el bronche. Guava mimosas, anyone?

Bread + Butter Counter is located on 2330 Salzedo St., Coral Gables. For more information, call 305-442-9622 or visit

Bulla Gastrobar

A quick trip to Spain has never been easier. Save yourself the semester. No study abroad necessary. Just a tasty tapas-style meal in Downtown Coral Gables (that unexplored part of the city that’s actually not situated along U.S. 1). The Spanish gastrobar emerged on the Coral Gables culinary scene in February, after the owners of the former Por Fin opted to try something new. Small plates include essentials like patatas bravas (which may sound familiar to 100 Montaditos enthusiasts), tortilla española (actually an omelet, not a tortilla), and albondigas (that’s Spanish for meatballs, for any monolinguals out there). Then there are ham croquettes made with top-notch Iberico ham, served alongside fig jelly. Just dig into that charcuterie platter, and let out a cry of “Boo-ya!” because you’re dining at Bulla.

Bulla Gastrobar is located on 2500 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables. For more information, call 305-441-0107 or visit