Our new food finds series has focused—as Miami, for better or for worse, usually does—on new restaurant openings and new culinary concepts. Save for the time that we rediscovered a North Miami seafood staple and celebrated the new and improved look of a long-time favorite South Beach steakhouse, we've talked only about new restaurant openings. But "new food finds" don't always have to be recently launched locations. They can also consist of spots that have been around for a while but, for whatever reason, have never made it on our radar or a different kind of cuisine than what we're used to eating. Last Saturday we hit the jackpot on both when we joined the Miami Bloggers Media for a late lunch at Shiraz Bistro & Market in Kendall.
We have driven on US1, past SW 98th Street many times in our Miami career. Somehow we never felt there was anything worth stopping for between Dadeland Mall and the Target that sits just south of the Palmetto. In fact, we were taken aback to discover there are entire strip malls worth of hidden gems behind the buildings along US1, including the Persian and Middle Eastern restaurant and market to which we were invited. It's just that, unless we're summoned to the area or we're faced with an errand, Kendall isn't front of mind as a Miami destination. After last Saturday, we're resolved that needs to change.
As you get further and further away from Downtown Miami, you get closer and closer to a sense of community, of realness, of home. Don't get us wrong—you can find that anywhere in Miami, it's just that the feeling is stronger, more pronounced everywhere else. We were reminded of that the minute we walked into Shiraz, the welcoming smell of spices and home-cooked food warming our senses. As the staff showered us with hot tea, followed by plates of hummus, stuffed grape leaves and falafel, we were reminded of the family gatherings we were privy to growing up thanks to our Persian middle school friends.
The mouthwatering smell from earlier? Those were our entrées—plates of slow-cooked lamb shank and assorted kebabs over beds of rice and veggies. Our adana kebab, which consists of minced lamb seasoned with traditional spices and grilled on skewers, was very spicy (which we liked) and surprisingly not gamey (which we also liked). We've tried lamb dishes a handful of times and have never particularly enjoyed it until we devoured this one. (It's probably why they have such rave reviews on Yelp and elsewhere on the internets.) We topped of our meal with our new blogger friends over Turkish coffee and kunefe, a dessert that our "So Miami" table unanimously agreed is like an arepa but with a higher cheese to dough ratio.
Overall, the experience was incredible: food, company, ambiance, the whole package. If you're ever craving Middle Eastern (i.e., Turkish, Persian) food or products, Shiraz Bistro & Market is a worthwhile reason to venture to Kendall. We honestly cannot believe we'd never heard of it before our visit. And now, for your regular dose of food porn...