The Regular - Miami

30 May 2016
by Jordana Rothman • In partnership with FOOD & WINE

 

You could dine at a new, sceney restaurant every night of the week in Miami and never hit the same place twice. But for chef Michelle Bernstein of Cena by Michy, loyalty trumps trendiness. Here are a few spots in her regular rotation.

 

Sushi Deli at Japanese Market

Inside Japanese Market in North Bay, past the aisles of bagged rice, vibrant gummy candies and shelves stocked with squat bottles of soy sauce and vinegar, you’ll find a tiny, no frills sushi counter that just so happens to serve one of Miami’s most sought-after meals. Chef Michio Kushi, who arrived in Miami from Japan in the 80s, is the master here, presenting an ever-rotating selection of pristine nigiri and funky rolls to whoever is lucky enough to be occupying the few seats. “I’ve been frequenting Sushi Deli for years, but these days it has a cult following and is almost impossible to get into,” says Michelle, who once hired Michio’s daughter as an intern. “This really is the best sushi in town, especially when chef Michio is just slicing fish off the cuff. There’s also a no cell phone policy, which I love.”

Japanese Market: 1412 79th Street Causeway, Miami Beach; 305-861-0143

 

Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop

Miami’s coffee cognoscenti flock to Panther, a small-batch roaster, but Michelle prefers the unassuming vibe at Enriqueta’s, which has been serving Cuban-style cafecito—espresso sweetened with with demerara sugar—for more than 50 years. “I don’t go for the fancy coffee,” says Michelle, who meets her husband David for coffee at Enriqueta’s about once a week. “There have a little window for us; I get a cafecito and a tostada—just buttered toast—and we catch up.”

Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop: 186 NE 29th St, Miami; 305-573-4681

 

NIU Kitchen

Michelle and David have taken many trips to Spain, and this downtown tapas spot is the closest Miami gets to the Iberian flavors they love. Chef Deme Lomas channels his native Barcelona, building a menu around ingredients that epitomize the region: anchovies and jamón Ibérico, smokey paprika and chistorra sausage. “I don’t think I’ve put anything in my mouth that is as true to the spirit of Spanish cuisine as you can find at NIU,” says Michelle, who loves the clams with sofregit and sherry, and the Catalan-style rice, tossed with sausage and cuttlefish. But it’s not just the food that brings her back. “The owner Karina Iglesias has a really interesting energy. She’s a funky lady, really cool to talk to, and she knows everything about the wine list and the food,” says Michelle. “We’ll walk in and think she hasn’t recognized us as regulars, and within minutes we are either seated or just feeling very welcomed. She’s incredibly talented.”

NIU Kitchen: 134 NE 2nd Ave, Miami; 786-542-5070; niukitchen.com

 

La Sandwicherie

A South Beach staple since the 80s, this French-inspired spot gets the simple things right. Approachable fillings like ham and turkey share menu space with pâté and saucisson sec, and in addition to basic bread you can build a sandwich between halves of a baguette or croissant. “La Sandwicherie is the perfect late-night stop, whether you’ve had a little too much to drink or you’re just hungry after dancing or working,” says Michelle who would hit the cafe as a young woman, refueling after evenings spent raging to Depeche Mode at South Beach nightclubs. “I still get the same thing today: tuna on baguette with everything on it, including cornichons and black olives. Ask for extra vinaigrette and drizzle it all over the top.”

La Sandwicherie: 229 14th St, Miami Beach; 305-532-8934; lasandwicherie.com

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