The Best Lunch Spots In Coral GablesWelcome to the Coral Gables lunch guide.
With so many hungry office workers looking for excuses to procrastinate, Coral Gables has some of the best lunch options in Miami-Dade. There are hidden spots you’ll want to keep to yourself, fancy-ish day-off lunch options, and plenty of places to work (plus one that really doesn’t want you to). Here are our Gables lunch favorites.
We’re not surprised this Eastern Mediterranean restaurant is a hit. Motek has several locations in Miami—and we like all of them. This one on Miracle Mile has a big bar, a large dining room, and outdoor seating. Our favorite dishes here are the chicken schnitzel sandwich, mushroom hummus, and arayes burger. But if you’re on a tight lunch break, order any of the cold mezzes—they come out fast, and you’ll make it back in time for the weekly budget meeting. Or come for Happy Hour (weekdays from 3pm-6pm) and listen to coworkers complain about how that meeting should have been an email.
You’ll find Jholano’s in an apartment complex in Coral Gables, where the small Italian sandwich shop is operating behind a red door with a faded sign from the previous occupant. It doesn’t look like a restaurant, but override your hesitation against breaking and entering and you’ll find a small counter serving a dozen stellar Italian sandwiches. Our favorite is il tradizionale, a perfect cold Italian sub. It has capicola, salami, pepperoni, and ham—but what really makes this sandwich are the crisp veggies that contrast so well with the salty meat.
Su-Shin Izakaya is a good Japanese restaurant in Coral Gables, perfect for a quick lunch or easy dinner. Sushi takes up most of the menu, and the $32 sushi/sashimi combo is a great deal. It comes with 16 pieces of sashimi, six pieces of nigiri, and a soup or salad. But we also love their tsukemono (assorted Japanese pickles), yakimatsu (sautéed mushroom and onions in a ponzu sauce), and hiyashi wakame (marinated seaweed salad).
Coral Bagels is a casual breakfast spot that—despite its misleading name—is technically on the edge of the Grove. But if they’re going to rhyme their way into the Gables, we’ll allow these bagels. They’re open for breakfast and lunch from 7am-3pm every day. It’s normally pretty crowded (especially on the weekends) with UM kids looking for a triple-decker club sandwich or a bagel. But during the week, it’s a solid option for an easy diner-style lunch.
This casual Cuban restaurant keeps it simple, straightforward, and makes the best vaca frita in Miami (fighting words, we know). You’re going to want to come here on a weekday for their “Business Lunch” menu, where everything on the twenty-item menu is under $14 from noon to 5pm, including that vaca frita. Another thing worth getting on the table: the crispy mariquitas served with a garlicky mojo.
Ichimi in Coral Gables serves big bowls of steamy ramen, springy pork belly bao buns, and crispy-bottomed gyozas. Our favorite ramen here is the Ichimi ramen. It’s a tonkotsu broth that comes with your choice of protein and noodles. The ramen also comes with scallions, crunchy kikurage mushrooms, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, sesame seeds, and a soft boiled egg. Slurp it all up with their wooden spoons and pretend you’re a Ghibli movie character.
One of our favorite spots to eat and get work done in Coral Gables is Cafe Demetrio. You can sit outside under a shady banyan tree or inside the historic building decorated with Victorian paintings, an upright piano, and vintage brass teapots. You can order breakfast and brunch all day, but the chicken and bacon sandwich is why we come here. It’s grilled chicken breast with thick bacon, spinach, muenster cheese, tomato, and chipotle aioli on a baguette. It comes with a side of crunchy ruffled chips that we like to stuff into the sandwich sixth-grade lunch style.
Yes, it’s a chain. But boy is it consistent. Hillstone in Coral Gables is an upscale restaurant that’s as busy as the day it opened over twenty years ago—and with good reason. It reliably hits the mark every damn time. We love the crispy chicken sandwich with spicy slaw and swiss cheese. It’s crunchy, buttery, and the meat-to-slaw-to-bun-ratio was probably determined with a graphing calculator. There’s truly something for everyone on the menu: sushi rolls, rotisserie chicken, seared ahi tuna salad, or Hawaiian ribeye with pineapple soy marmalade. It’s perfect for lunch with clients or picky work friends who want to splurge a bit.
It’s a bakery, cafe, restaurant, small grocer, butcher, and a wine shop. If it was next to Home Depot, it’d be the perfect place to shelter during armageddon. Order a couple flaky Argentinian empanadas to-go for a quick snack. Or dine in and get the half panini (we like the "next door" with prosciutto, mozzarella, and tomatoes) and soup for lunch. It’s also not a bad place to work, as long as you’re not distracted by TVs playing that game where you push a ball with your foot. Graziano’s Market really has something for everyone, minus survivalists. We still recommend Home Depot for that.
The Coral Gables Books & Books is very much its own character. It exhales when the weather cools, and the wooden floors creak when the humidity rises. It’s alive—with ideas and history. And also food. Their very solid cafe serves soups, salads, and sandwiches with both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s a lovely spot to eat, read, or work while you attempt to absorb ideas through osmosis. Also, check out their calendar for weekly in-person or virtual book readings and author events.
Frenchie’s is a French bistro with dishes written out on a chalkboard. Between courses, the parchment paper on your table will read like the tea leaves of a good meal—with oily trails of butter from tender escargot, a smattering of tangy steak tartare, and drops of french onion soup. You’re coming here for a leisurely, decadent, and casual meal—which you’ll get whether you order the rich French onion soup or a crackly-skinned duck confit. Finish your indulgent lunch with the chocolate mousse that’s thick, bittersweet, and served in a coffee cup. As any true French bistro would, they take a break and close at 3pm between lunch and dinner, so don’t plan a late lunch.
Gables Cafe is a tiny breakfast and lunch spot at the foot of an office building. The menu skews Cuban, but they serve everything from smoothies to tuna wraps. We really like their queso frito burger—a big patty, sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and squeaky fried cheese. Just don’t eat one before a meeting (or do and chase it with the $1 half-colada shot). Their daily lunch specials are great. The most popular is Thursday: juicy vaca frita with your choice of two sides for $12. Gables Cafe is incredibly small and busy all day. So if you’re in a hurry, phone in your order and pick it up.
Tinta y Cafe is pretty much the most perfect casual lunch place that a hungry person in Coral Gables could ask for. The relaxing spot feels more like a very cool library than your average claustrophobic ventanita. The Cuban coffee is great and so is the food, which includes croquetas, salads, and really tasty sandwiches—which is what you want to get here. The self-titled Tinta y Cafe is a safe choice and comes with pork, prosciutto, manchego, roasted peppers, and caramelized onions. Just know that they have a pretty strict no-laptop policy, so don’t come here to work.
An outstanding sushi spot that’s casual, affordable, and consistently excellent is rare in Miami. But Matsuri is exactly that kind of restaurant, which is probably why you will absolutely have to wait for a table at this classic Bird Road spot. It will, however, be very worth it. If you’re here with a friend, get the masa special for two. It’s a platter of over 30 pieces of the day’s best sashimi, nigiri, and maki for about $44. It always makes us glad we decided to wait 37 minutes for a table.
If you are in Coral Gables and in the mood for bread in any form, get in the car and drive to Madruga Bakery. There isn’t necessarily a specialty here. It’s one of those bakeries that just does everything deliciously, and you should leave with at least three things you didn’t plan on ordering. Those things could include a guava and cheese danish, ham and cheese croissant, or a couple of onion poppy seed rolls.
Vinya is a restaurant, wine bar, and the kind of fancy-ish lunch spot you go to when you have zero intentions of returning to work. The menu has everything from morcilla spring rolls and a simple gnocchi to a huge smoked short rib you can make tacos out of. We’re not totally sure how to categorize this place, so we’ll just call it what it is: a pleasure. Service is quick and friendly too.
This Australian brewery in Coral Gables is a nice place to eat lunch outside. Their front patio is spacious and laid out over a stretch of astroturf, so you can feel like you’re having a little picnic. This place is equal parts brewery and restaurant, and you can certainly come just for a beer. But if you did that, you’d be missing out on one of the better fish and chips in town.