Finding the Best Spots for Solo Dining �� Miami and Fort Lauderdale

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Planta - Vegan - Miami Beach

Hip ... but not hippie is the best way to describe the amazing vegan restaurant in Miami Beach that's blowing the doors off of everything you thought you knew about vegan food!  







Describe the restaurant in three words: 

Chic, Trendy, Innovative


Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ

Parking: 

As with most Miami Beach venues, parking is not always easy. Planta, however, is fortunate enough to have valet, a parking lot directly across the street, and pay by phone spaces nearby. I spent about an hour and a half at Planta and paid $12. 


Can you eat at the bar? 
Of course! There are actually two large bars at Planta; one is a 'sushi' bar in the main dining area, and the other is located in a section which was closed during my visit. 



What to wear:
On this Sunday evening, Planta had a little bit of everything as far as dress code. I saw everything from shorts with stilettos, to sheer dresses which left nothing to the imagination. Hey, it's Miami Beach ... wear whatever makes you feel comfortable.  
Sushi Bar






People watching/entertainment/atmosphere rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ
The dining area truly embodies Planta's earthy homage. The dining area is open and airy; very much what a restaurant in Crate and Barrel might look like. Huge windows tower over cozy sofas, high-tops, and indoor palms. There are even skylights allowing even more sunlight to bathe the dining area. Pendant light fixtures hang over the bars, and open-air ducts line the ceiling. The soft music was upbeat and a nice mix of oldies and modern hits. As the evening progressed, the dining area began to fill and by 8 o'clock, the place was fully seated.


Vegetarian/Vegan-Friendly
One hundred percent! Planta was opened with the purpose of creating delicious food that promotes environmental sustainability. Under Chef David Lee, Planta's goal was to fill a void in the market of upscale, full service, plant-based dining options. The restaurant's vision was to celebrate innovative cuisine in a beautiful environment without the use of any animal products. Mission accomplished!

What is good about it for the solo diner?
Eating vegan in Miami Beach can be expensive, so I was pleased to see that they offered a Miami Spice menu on the night of my visit. There were four choices of appetizer and main course, and three choices for dessert. I began my vegan adventure with the Queso Dip.  It was by far the best queso dip I've ever had. I know what you're thinking ... how can a meatless queso dip possibly taste as good as one loaded with seasoned meat? I have no idea!!! But I know Planta succeeded in doing it! It consists of black beans, queso, guacamole, pickled vegetables, and crunchy tortilla chips. The 'queso' was a combination of carrots, sweet potatoes, and nutritional yeast.WOW!! It was insanely fresh and flavor-filled. My first taste of vegan food was off to a great start.




Lettuce Wraps
Avocado Lime Cheesecake
The second course options included Kelp Caesar Salad, Lettuce Wraps, Heart of Palm 'Crab' Cakes, and Meat Lovers Pizza. Having heard about the cauliflower tots, I decided to go with the lettuce wraps; another excellent choice on my part. The lettuce came out with crispy Korean cauliflower, tofu, kimchi, pickled cucumber, nori, and sesame. Absolutely mind-blowing. I topped off my meal with the Avocado Lime Cheesecake which consists of cashew nut, coconut date crust, raspberry purรฉe. It was beautiful, but I can't say I loved it. I will try the Chocolate Terrarium on my next visit. 

What may not be good about it for the solo diner?
There's nothing about Planta of which a solo diner should be wary. The food, service, and atmosphere are all on the high end of Miami Beach dining. The solo diner can sit quietly at table and read, surf the internet, or simply watch the world float by through the enormous daydream worthy windows. 

Would I return?

In a heartbeat! Planta has opened my eyes, and tastebuds, to a whole new world of dining. There are many other items on the menu that I am eager to taste, including it's famous Planta Burger ($19), and the Hearts of Palm 'Crab' Cakes ($23.50). There are also a few pizza items I'd like to try: French and 6ix sound fantastic! My gluten-free friends will be happy to know that they have you covered too! Thank you Christian Barragan for ensuring I had a wonderful experience.

Planta
850 Commerce Street
Miami Beach, Fl 33139
(305) 397-8513

https://www.plantarestaurants.com







Stiltsville Fish Bar - Seafood - Miami Beach

Southern hospitality meets seaside charm in the peaceful neighborhood of  Sunset Harbor....this is a must-go for anyone who has a soft spot for simply delicious food at a fabulously relaxing venue .... 





Describe the restaurant in three words: 

Warm, Relaxing, Inviting


Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ

Parking: 

There is a large parking lot directly across from Stiltsville. There are also ample parking along Purdy Avenue and surrounding streets.


MesaMar - Seafood - Coral Gables

MesaMar ... a cozy spot to satisfy your fresh, seafood cravings in Coral Gables....


Fresh Seafood 

Monkitail - Japanese - Hollywood

Forget everything you think you know about contemporary, upscale Japanese cuisine; Michael Schulman has raised the bar ....




Describe the restaurant in three words: 

Extraordinary, Transportive, Sexy 


Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ


Parking: 

Monkitail is located in the lovely Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood. The hotel provides free valet parking with your validated ticket from Monkitail. Love that! 


Can you eat at the bar? 

Yes; the bar in the main dinging room that will serve all of the items on the menu. It's not very large, but the seats are comfortable and the space is inviting.


Nokku Bar

Ortanique on the Mile - Caribbean - Coral Gables

Coral Gables is  one of South Florida's oldest cities and known for its creative and dynamic culinary scene. For the past 19 years, Ortanique on the Mile has been serving some of the city's most innovative and authentically Caribbean inspired food ... 




Describe the restaurant in three words: 

Authentic, Innovative, Delectable


Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ


Parking: 

Parking can be challenging if you're not familiar with the area, and Ortanique on the Mile does not provide valet service. There are parking spots along Miracle Mile if you are fortunate to acquire one. Directly behind the restaurant is a large, multiple level, municipal parking garage, which charged only $5 to park. There is also a walkway from the garage which leads directly to Miracle Mile as well.


Can you eat at the bar? 


Yes; there's a cozy and lively bar towards the rear of the restaurant. There are also several high tops around the bar where you can also enjoy your meal, and catch whatever sporting event may be on their big screen TV.


What to wear:
Although I did not see anyone wearing shorts and T-shirts, the dress code seemed to be on the Florida casual style. Lots of jeans, collared shirts, and summer dresses were worn.



People watching/entertainment/atmosphere rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ

OLA - Latin American - Miami Beach

Miami Beach is a hot ... and not just the temperature. It's home to some of the best restaurants in South Florida ... including OLA ... Latin American food at it finest ... 




Describe the restaurant in three words: 

Authentic, Tropical, Romantic


Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ


Parking: 

OLA is located in the Sanctuary Hotel in Miami Beach. Parking can be challenging in this area; an Uber is suggested. However, there is an open lot directly across from the hotel which charged $25 to park. I got lucky once again; I found a spot directly in front of the hotel, used @Parkmobile, and paid $8 for about an hour and 45 minute visit.



Can you eat at the bar? 

No. Although there is a lovely, long bar at OLA, it's not there for dining. 


Interior Seating 



What to wear:
Be advised, OLA is fine dining .... diners were dressed nicely in typical Florida Chic attire; most women wore summer dresses or slacks, the men were comfortable in mostly collard shirts. There were some diners who came in wearing shorts, but they were the exception. Dress nicely. 



People watching/entertainment/atmosphere rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ



Organic/Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options are on the menu. There are twelve different ceviche items from which to choose; Fire & Ice ($18) being their most popular.  The corn empanada ($16) is served with mushroom salad, huitlacoche (a fungus that grows on ears of corn), and sweet corn sauce. Pionono ($26) is a sweet plantain roulade, stuffed with yellow and green zucchini, spinach, pequillo peppers, Parmesan cheese, with homemade tomato and black bean sauce. 

Bubbles + Pearls - American/Seafood - Wilton Manors

Blink and you'll miss it ... and trust me ... you don't want to miss this little gem. In Wilton Manors, Bubbles + Pearls is worth a visit ...  





Describe the restaurant in three words: 
Lively, Trendy, Welcoming

Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ

Parking: 

There is minimal parking along 4th Avenue in front of the restaurant. However, directly across the street is the large City Hall building with lots of space. It was raining on the night I visited; Parkmobile made it easy to pay in the pouring rain.


Can you eat at the bar?

Absolutely! The bar pretty much stretches from the front door to the kitchen.

Bar

What to wear:
Bubbles and Pearls is a very laid back and casual dining spot; think shorts, flip flops, or whatever you may be wearing at the moment.

Point Royal - Seafood - Hollywood

Truth be told, Hollywood, Florida is not known as the foodie capital of South Florida. While there are some buzz worthy restaurants to check out, I opted to learn more about Point Royal in The Diplomat Hotel ... 





Describe the restaurant in three words: 
Relaxed, Picturesque, Hospitable



Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ

Parking: 

There is complimentary valet parking - but during peak dining hours, be prepared to wait. There is also a garage directly across the street. I was told by my waiter that I would receive discounted or complimentary parking in the garage with the validation ticket he gave me; that didn't work out and I ended up paying $23.  Not happy about that.


Can you eat at the bar?

There are two distinct bars in Point Royal. One is the Raw Bar where you can order happy-hour-priced food and drink specials served nowhere else in the restaurant. The other bar is at the center of the restaurant where you can order whatever you like (including the specials only available at the raw bar). 

Raw Bar 

Interior Bar
What to wear:
Florida Chic. This restaurant is in Diplomat Hotel, and some of the the diners were less obliged to get  dressed up for dinner after a day on the sand. This however, is not a shorts and T-shirt kind of restaurant. Suffice to say, the majority of the patrons were dressed nicely in slacks and casual dresses etc.

People watching/entertainment/atmosphere rating:

๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ
Raw Bar 
Depending on where you sit, people watching can be either really interesting, or really 'not'. I reserved a table for one in the main dining area, however I decided to sit at the Raw Bar which as it turns out, was not ideal for people watching. On the other hand, my seat gave me a fully unobstructed view of the raw bar experience. Richard shucked, cleaned, and carefully presented plate after plate of raw appetizers and entrees. The restaurant was full of diners and even though there was scarcely an empty seat to be had, the noise level was not overwhelming and/or obtrusive. It was just loud enough to set the mood. Diners did not have to yell over each other or shout across the tables to converse. There were ceiling fans, lots of greenery and soft, warm lighting hanging from low lying fixtures and atop the diners' tables. On the East side of the restaurant were huge floor to ceiling windows allowing the last bit of sunlight to grace the dining room. The separation between tables was perfect for personal conversations. The ages spanned the gamut as well; there is a menu for the younger diners.


Organic/Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly
Yes. There is organic chicken ($19) on the menu, as well as vegetarian and vegan friendly items.

Mandolin Aegean Bistro - Greek/Turkish - Miami

Miami's Design District has always been a hot-bed for some of the city's best authentic dining experiences. Mandolin Aegean Bistro is no exception ... 



Exterior Entrance


Describe the restaurant in three words: 

Authentic, Inviting, Romantic


Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ


Parking: 

Parking can be a little tricky if you don't know the area. I saved a few dollars and managed to snag a spot on a side street. In the Design District, however, there is a parking garage. Across the street from the restaurant you can also use the $5 valet lot. 




Can you eat at the bar? 

No. There's no bar seating at this restaurant, nor is there any hard liquor.  It is designed to be a gathering spot for friends and family. There are many large tables for six or more outside in the beautiful courtyard, and a few large tables in the very cozy interior. That being said, you must make reservations for this restaurant or you may end up enjoying your dinner in a cute, albeit small, spot at the entrance of the restaurant.  


Interior Waiting Area
What to wear:
For the dinner seating, Mandolin Aegean Bistro is not a shorts and T-shirt type of restaurant. It is by no means snobby, but the diners were dressed nicely in typical Florida Chic attire; most women wore heels and dresses or slacks, the men were comfortable in button down collard shirts There were a few suits and ties in the crowd, but they were mainly the exception and not the rule.

People watching/entertainment/atmosphere rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ

Exterior Patio Dining


Organic/Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly
Vegetarian and Vegan items are on the menu. I would be remiss if I didn't mention their fantastic herb garden.  There's an abundance of farm fresh ingredients growing in the restaurant's backyard garden; that's what I call farm to table! 


Herb Garden

GK Bistronomie - Latin & Asian - Wynwood

Whether you're a native of South Florida or not, no visit to Miami would be complete without a trip to Wynwood. Vibrant artwork, trendy restaurants, and breweries abound; I decided to overindulge at GK Bistronomie ... 


Image by Emily H.

Sea Watch on the Ocean - Seafood - Fort Lauderdale

A blustery weekend in South Florida blew me to the enclosed patio of Sea Watch on the Ocean which was selected in 2016 as the most scenic restaurant in the nation ....




CinรฉBistro @ CityPlace - American - Doral

Dining out alone does not have to be restricted to an actual restaurant! Why not treat yourself to dinner AND a movie! Did I find the perfect spot in Doral to do so?  Read all about my experience and find out ...




Describe the establishment in three words: 

Comfortable, Chic, and Alcohol ๐Ÿท๐Ÿธ


Solo dining rating:
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Parking: 

If you've ever been to Dolphin Mall, you know you need to be prepared to drive in circles for a while trying to find a parking spot. There is, however, free valet parking for any guest with a ticket purchased on the same day. GREAT DEAL! Additionally, there is a large, free parking garage where you will more than likely have to drive up to the higher levels to find an open space.

Can you eat at the bar?

Yes, there is a very nice bar at CineBistro...most guests enjoy an adult beverage while waiting for the cinema doors to open. You can also eat at one at several hightops in the lounge which is very South Florida sexy and retro chic.

Fully Stocked Sexy Bar

Lounge Area

What to wear:

Smart Casual; it was a cool night in Doral, so everyone had on long pants and was covered in sweaters and jackets. It is not a casual establishment, but you don't have to dress for the typical SoFl night out.

People watching/entertainment/atmosphere rating:

๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ
CinรฉBistro is a movie theater...so there's no people watching going on. The atmosphere inside the lounge and bar area is very much like any other cozy bistro; high-top tables, cozy white leather sofas and chairs, warm red walls and carpeting, and dazzling modern chandeliers. Inside the actual theater is intimate and comfortable. For the theater enthusiasts, it boasts 4k digital projection and 7.1 surround sound. I was quite cozy and eager to watch one of my pretend husbands, Liam Neeson, in The Commuter.


Organic/Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly
Yes; there are a few items to choose from, such as the BLT sandwich with Seared Salmon, Bianco Roll, Bacon, Arugula, Lemon Basil Dressing, Sliced Tomato & Sweet Tomato Jam, and a Kale Salad with Salted Almonds, Dried Cherries, Pickled Shallots, Sliced Radish, Pecorino Vinaigrette. There is not much in the way of gluten free items.

Ella's Cafe - American - Plantation

Oversized coffee mugs, mason jars, and old fashioned milk bottles are only a small portion of what makes this warm and fuzzy eatery a true escape from the madness of daily life. Learn more about Ella's Cafe ... 






Describe the restaurant in three words: 

Rustic, Cozy, Inviting



Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ

Parking: 

 Lots of free parking in the plaza.


Can you eat at the bar?

There is no bar at Ella's Cafe, however you don't need one. There are a limited number of small tables and chairs in this narrow eatery at which to enjoy your meal. 


What to wear:

Casual; anything from shorts to yoga pants.

People watching/entertainment/atmosphere rating:

๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ
Ella's Cafe is busy enough to keep the people watching fresh and interesting. Everyone, especially the staff, is very friendly and ready with a quick smile. The clientele is a mixed bunch as far as age, ethnicity, and attire. There were a few small children at the cafe on the evening I visited, but they were not a distraction.

The cafe has a very rustic, somewhat European vibe. Exposed brick on one wall and deep green vines on the opposite wall. Lots of wood and metal used for the tables and chairs, and in the rear, two low-rise heavy wooden tables with thick, wooden stump stools. Add to that, a cosy sitting area to the very back of the cafe consisting of four soft comfy chairs and a large pastoral coffee table under the exposed industrial ceiling. The Indie music playing in the background was too loud for me, but other patrons did not seem to mind.


Organic/Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly
Yes; there are many choices from which to choose! There are several salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, and pastries on display -- everything is delicious -- just dive in!

Ceviche Arigato - Peruvian/Japanese Fusion - Weston

Sometimes cool and cozy is just what you need! The Weston neighborhood gem Ceviche Arigato is the perfect spot to get a light bite, or a hearty serving of Peruvian/Asian fusion fare. Check it out!






Describe the restaurant in three words: 

Quite, Cozy, Consistent


Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ

Parking: 

The fact that this gem is housed in a strip mall means that there is ample FREE parking.


Can you eat at the bar?

Yes and No. There is a very small bar at Ceviche Arigato, however I have never seen anyone dine there. There is a big screen TV mounted on the wall above the bar for anyone interested, however it seems like the owners are the only ones who use that sitting space.  


What to wear:

Casual; T-shirts, jeans, etc.

People watching/entertainment rating:

๐Ÿธ

Organic/Vegan Friendly
Yes; there are many choices from which to choose! There are several soups, salads, tapas, and rolls on the menu that are sure to please even the pickiest pallets.

Palme d'Or - Contemporary French - Coral Gables

My solo dining experience took me to the beautiful historic Biltmore Hotel's French restaurant, Palme d'Or. With so much history, this hometown treasure lived up to all of my expectations.  


Amuse Bouche

Describe the restaurant in three words: 

Old World Charm


Solo dining rating:
๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ

Parking: 

Valet parking fee of $18 
Tip: Ample free parking is available in The Biltmore Hotel parking lot; its a short walk to the restaurant.
Uber is easily accessible.


Can you eat at the bar?

No; there is no bar at which to dine in this restaurant. 

What to wear:

Many of the men wore jackets, and women were dressed nicely in warm sweaters and boots; it was a cold night and we know Floridians like to take out the 'winter wear' when the temperature drops to 65 degrees ๐Ÿ˜„

People watching/entertainment rating:

๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ
The restaurant was not crowded at the time of my visit. The entertainment was minimal and consisted of very soft, almost inaudible background music. Many of the patrons were on the 'mature' side; younger diners were there in what appeared to be family gatherings. Lots of old-world charm, with old-school, suite and tie service. Give the staff bonus points for referring to me as Miss and not M'am!

Organic/Vegan Friendly
Yes; however, keep in mind that Palme d'Or only serves a pre-fix dining menu (no a la carte options). There may be items on the tasting menu that you are not be able to eat. I made my food allergy known at the time of the reservation booking, and was pleased when when my server acknowledged this and assured me that the chef was aware. Palme d'Or will prepare a Kosher meal with 48 hours notice. There are also gluten free options. Very nice!