By Melanie Galarce
Meraki Greek Bistro (142 SE 1st Avenue, Miami) is a newly-opened restaurant tucked away in the heart of Downtown Miami. This bistro transports you to Greece with its charming outdoor patio of Greek Island-inspired decor, blue and white pillows, and large rustic tables, as well as an impressive interior design that includes an array of Hellenic artwork and beautiful hanging basket lights.
Menu highlights: Meraki is a term that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, and love. The menu is a reflection of meraki in its purest form. Mitch and I enjoyed Mediterranean favorites that were fresh, inventive, but true to the authenticity of the Greek Islands that make the place so special. We started with the Marinated Grilled Octopus, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, and oregano. A simple, but delicious appetizer that tastes as good as it looks.
We also wanted to try something a bit more hearty, and it was recommended that we try the Homemade Meatballs. A pair of grilled meatballs served with pita bread and tzatziki. Although this was supposed to be our indulgent dish, we still didn’t feel like we were cheating and we enjoyed every second of this Greek meatball interpretation.
Also, the one app you should most definitely try and order for the table? The Trio of Spreads which brings tzatziki, hummus, and meli-salad served with pita bread. Our kind waiter gave us the heads up that this was one of the most popular dishes and rightly so. The spreads were all rich in flavor, but the dish was light enough that we emptied this plate in a matter of minutes.
Standout dishes: The standout dishes at Meraki were all cheese-inspired, and I promise if you’re adventurous enough to try them, you’ll understand the hype. The Honey and Sesame Cheese Puffs were triangle-shaped phyllo puffs stuffed with sesame, feta, and greek honey. This somewhat untraditional dish was definitely one of our favorites. The best point of reference I can give is that these puffs are a little like the Greek version of the pastelito de queso. A total win, right?
Have I mentioned that cheese has a very special place in my heart? Well it’s no surprise that another one of the most memorable dishes was the Saganaki. Grilled vlahotyri cheese flambeed tableside for a presentation that was just as impressive as the dish itself. When I say the Saganaki was “lit,” I mean it quite literally. The cheese comes to your table on fire and continues to boil a few minutes after being placed on your table! A spectacle of cheese that melts in your mouth.
Are we boozing? We sure are. You can enjoy a variety of wines or if you’re into keeping things PG (because maybe you’re 5 months pregnant, like me) you can order things like Greek Frappe or traditional Greek Coffee.
Check this place out if you like: any of the few small, quaint Miami Mediterranean restaurants. A few that come to mind include Maria’s Greek Restaurant, The Original Daily Bread Marketplace, or Byblos (although Byblos is a much more upscale experience).
Mel’s take: Mitch and I were smitten by the decor, but the food was equally as impressive. If you’re looking for a charming spot and are ready to grub on some delicious Mediterranean cuisine, this is the place for you! Pro tip: Meraki offers three hours of parking for $1 in the Miami Tower. They also have impressive happy hour specials and a brunch that we’re planning to attend soon!
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