My friends and I have commented on how we crave different, super tasty food as in exotic, ethnic dishes other than the usual Latin American and Japanese fare. And it’d be dishes we wouldn’t usually cook because you need to have so many special ingredients you wouldn’t want to buy for a one or two time run. My takeout has included favorites of Persian, Indian, Vietnamese, and Ethiopian food. I’ve also added Thai, with the recent reopening of a Miami favorite, Nai Ya Ra. Note that all have delivery, but where possible try to pick up the food since it saves the restaurants the big cut for the delivery service. Happy to share the names of the best ethnic restaurants in Miami, favorite dishes and other tips. Enjoy!
Shiraz Bistro & Market. The Turkish and Persian owners and managers do their culinary heritage proud with delectable dishes of the region. Especially recommended are the kebabs which come with cucumber yogurt dip, basmati rice, grilled tomato and onion; any eggplant dish; and the Persian stews. Expect to pay $50 to $60 for two. Shiraz Bistro, 9630 SW 77th Avenue (T.305-273-8888).
Zaika – One of my “go to” places for Indian food. In fact, this was my first take out meal during COVID 19. We ordered a whole tandoori chicken, garlic nan, spinach paneer and an eggplant curry. It came with two orders of rice. We came back two weeks later and tried the lamb korma, boneless lamb in a rich creamy cashew sauce. Everything was delicious. Expect to pay $50 to $60 for two. If you’re not big eaters, you can get two meals out of it. In the Bal Harbour area, 2176 NE 123rd St, North Miami,(786) 409-5187. (Note: I also like the better known Ghee).
Awash, named for an Ethiopian river, is exotic in the very best sense of the word. It excels in vegetables, stewed meats and chicken and beans. In fact, they make beans exciting, not an easy task in my book. Many dishes have the spice symphony of Indian and the subtle, sweet smokiness of barbecue. Vegetarian dishes such as red lentils, yellow split peas, cabbage, green beans and collard greens are typically scooped onto platters of their unique injera,, the spongy and slightly sour flatbread pockmarked with yeasty holes made from teff, a grain like seed from African lovegrass that is gluten-free and packed with nutrients. Perfect for “first timers”, they have a combo of vegetarian, chicken and beef entrees called Taste of Awash, for $19.99 for one person or $29.99 for two people. There’s also a combo of five vegetables for $13.99 for one and $23.99 for two. All come with lots of injera . And while you’re at it trying new things, pick up a bottle of Ethiopian honey wine or beer. 19934 NW 2nd Avenue , T.305-770-5100.
Another one of my “go to” places with friends and family, pre and during quarantine is Phuc Yea Vietnamese restaurant Dishes not to be missed are the classic summer roll, a riff on the traditional Vietnamese spring roll, plump with roast pork along with shrimp, cucumber, herbage, rice noodles, hoisin and crispies, and the signature crispy imperial roll “cha gio” with shrimp, pork, crab, woodear mushroom, carrot and jicama We love the chicken or beef pho too, a special Vietnamese soup that’s a favorite – light, healthy, and super tasty. Now they have an early bird dinner special from 6:00 to 7:30 that’s $20 for appetizer and pho entrée (plus tax and tip) and extensive, cool cocktail list. 7100 Biscayne Boulevard, T.305-602-3710.
And last on the list of best ethnic restaurants in Miami is Nai Ya Ra Thai, now open for takeout and delivery. Always reliably delicious, it’s a Miami favorite. A good friend who is a frequent diner and knows her food swears by the red curry with crispy duck, green curry with chicken, crispy bok choy and spring rolls. Nai Ya Ra, 1854 Bay Road in Sunset Harbour T.786-275-6005.