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

2018 Dinner for One; Drinks for Two. Powered by Blogger.

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:


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:

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. 

What is good about it for the solo diner?
Dining Terrace
There are so many good things about OLA. Nestled at the rear of Sanctuary South Beach Hotel, it may not look like much from the front door. But make no mistake, this is very much a first-class dining establishment with the food and service to prove it.

I was warmly welcomed by a lovely hostess who promptly escorted me to the back terrace. It was as if I was transported to somewhere in tropical Latin America; a large lattice covered seating area overlooking one of south Florida's innumerable, peaceful canals.

Candlelit tables, hanging ferns, soft Latin music, and a coconut tree greeted me. It was still early in the evening, so the patio was relatively empty. That would change as the evening progressed. My amazing server Hector was extremely professional and friendly; he gave me a few minutes to soak up the view and inhale the cool Florida winter air before coming to my table.

Mango Mojito
The first order of business was the adult beverage. Hector suggested I try the Mangojito, so I did. WOW!! It was delicious ... and yes... I did have more than one (drinks for two, remember?).
There are many other creative Latin cocktails: the Traditional Cuban Mojoto with Don Q Cristal Rum, lime mint, and sugar; the Lychee Miami with Van Gough Orange Vodka, lychee sake, and lychee puree; and the Caipirinha with  Cachaca, lime, and sugar. All are $14. Beer choices are limited and include Presidente, Negra Modelo, and Stella Atois; all are $8.

Lobster Empanada
I previewed the menu before I arrived so I knew exactly what I wanted for an appetizer; the lobster empanada. Squid ink infused dough, filled with huge chunks of lobster and BUTTER! It was perched atop avocado and salsa rosa sauce.  I know I've said this before, but it was absolutely one of the best things I've eaten in my life! It was so juicy and so creamy .... words cannot convey how delicious it truly was. The outside resembled hellish lump of coal, but inside was pure heaven.

Moving on to the main course, I chose the Panela Salmon ($34). This seared salmon is panel cured, and is presented on a bed of red quinoa, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, with hurricane sauce and radish salad. Simply perfect. I like how the salmon was seared to a crunch yet remained juicy on the inside. The internal temperature was on point, even after it so graciously posed for a few minutes while I took pictures. The quinoa was again, one of the best things I've ever had.
Panela Salmon
Some other items on the menu include Roast Cuban Pork ($36) served with mashed garlic yucca, black bean broth, creole style pepper salad, and mustard mojo. Another popular item is the Filet Mignon Churrasco ($48) served with grilled asparagus, chipotle crab meat dressing, and chimichurri. My next visit, however, will include the Pescado A La Macho ($36) 'fish of the day' which is served over sautéed baby spinach, grilled red onion with aji amarillo sauce, clams, calamari, shrimp, and black mussels.

What may not be good about it for the solo diner?
There's absolutely nothing for which a solo diner should be concerned. There were families sitting around me, but mainly couples enjoying the setting sun and cool breeze. No need to rely on your phone or bury your face in a book; just sit back, relax, enjoy the ambiance. The darker it became, the more the terrace glowed from the soft candles atop the dining tables. It is indeed a romantic spot; but it is also a slice of paradise for the solo diner to enjoy delicious Latin American food in an inviting, tropical atmosphere.
Chef Carlos & Happy Diner

Would I return?
Absolutely! I had such an enjoyable evening at OLA. It was pleasure from the moment I took my seat, to the memorable moment when Chef Carlos Castro agreed to smile for the camera with me. Thank you chef! 

OLA Restaurant
2216 Park Ave 
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 695-9125

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