Saturday, December 31, 2016

#ThankYouMiami for New Food Finds: Dine Around At Dolphin Mall

Even though we're not typically mall-goers, we make the pilgrimage to our local malls just like everyone else this time of year—in December to pick up gifts, in January to return gifts and use newly acquired gift cards. Whether you're a mall regular or a seasonal visitor, eating is an integral part of the shopping experience. After all, how else are you going to power through all that walking and heavy lifting? Earlier this month we stopped by the Dolphin Mall with Jamison to dine around their rapidly expanding restaurant options and gather intel on where to refuel when you're in the area. Below we report back our findings—the vibe, cuisine, ambiance, and other fun facts—about the five spots we visited.

Cabo Flats is a tex-mex joint with—to our surprise and pleasure—a real Mexican chef at the helm. It's the perfect place to unwind over an El Cabo margarita, avocabo fries, and Mexican street corn, especially when they're $5 during their twice-daily happy hour. If you're looking for a full meal, they're open for lunch and dinner, as well as for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays to offer drool-worthy options like taco bowls, fajitas, and huevos rancheros. P.S. If you like spicy cocktails, we highly recommend their jalapeño/cilantro margarita (ask them to go light on the agave).

We're super familiar with Burger & Beer Joint's locations in Brickell and South Beach, but we'd never before visited their outpost at the Dolphin Mall. We're happy to report that it is just as awesome a sports bar with mouthwatering burgers as the other two Miami locations and that they also have happy hour—two times a day in fact. On this visit, we indulged on their Mustang Sally burger (wagyu beef, red onion marmalade, brie and sliced prosciutto on a brioche bun) with green bean fries dipped in truffle aioli and french fries dipped in spicy ketchup. We washed all of the deliciousness down with an ice cold Magic City Pale Ale from Wynwood Brewing. In the words of Jamison, "F McDonalds."

Earlier this year we stopped by Kona Grill to check out their seasonal summer offerings and praised their Dolphin Mall location for their digs, stellar service and ample menu. On our second visit, we grew an even stronger appreciation for their contemporary American menu, our favorite dish of which was the poke rice bowl shown above. It includes sticky rice, furakaki (or, if you ask Jamison, "fofumaki") with bonito flakes and seaweed, fresh hand-cut salmon and ahi tuna, wakame seaweed salad, avocado and cucumber. According to Jamison this is the "best poke since I caught my own poke in Costa Rica, which was the best experience ever." Same, Jamison, same.

BRIO Tuscan Grille is another restaurant with which we're familiar and that we've previously raved about for brunch and lunch. (They've saved us on more than one occasion during past mall shopping experiences.) That said, we've never visited them at their Dolphin Mall location and never during dinner. During our visit, we had the espresso-rubbed rib eye which, to quote Jamison, had "fantastic espresso notes" and he would know because he has "six f&*#ing espressos a day". In all seriousness, it was excellent and has piqued our interest in exploring the rest of their dinner menu, particularly on Thursday wine nights when glasses of vino are only $5 at the bar. Plus, if you pick up their free loyalty card, you can get a freebie every 5th visit.

We remember a few years ago when we went to the opening of Brother Jimmy's in Mary Brickell Village. We had never heard of Brother Jimmy's, except for Brad who is from New York and was well acquainted with them from home. The first thing we wanted to do was order the swamp water because we're suckers for gimmicky drinks and between the plastic gator and the twenty colorful straws it's as gimmicky as cocktails get. We actually still have the gator from that visit as part of our living room décor. But we digress... The Brother Jimmy's at Dolphin Mall is the fun-loving, TV-laden sports bar we know and love. It's the perfect place when we want to go catch a UM football game (go 'Canes!) on TV while loading up on barbecue and large quantities of booze. Check out their weekly specials for other occasions well-worth a visit.

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