Deciding to go to Juvia is essentially answering one question: just how badly do you want to eat on a rooftop? Are you willing to pay $10 for a pathetic serving of mashed potatoes that taste straight from the frozen food aisle? Are you OK with an atmosphere that feels like a low-budget music video for a reality-TV-star-turned-EDM-DJ? Are you prepared to snap a chopstick in frustration when you’re served a spicy tuna crispy rice that contains an embarrassing amount of both spicy tuna and crispy rice?
You’ll have to answer yes to all these questions - and more - to justify coming to Juvia. This overpriced Lincoln Road restaurant serves mediocre food in ridiculously small portions. But, we admit, the view of South Beach is pretty nice.
Unfortunately, you can’t just come here, take in the aerial scenery, and leave. You have to consume something to earn your seat at one of Miami Beach’s only rooftop restaurants, and beer or wine are pretty much the only things we recommend spending money on at this place. You can do that if you just head to the bar, but on a crowded night, it can feel like a singles mixer for people who were kicked off every dating app for being too creepy with emojis.
It’s only a slightly better option than sitting down and eating. Juvia’s food menu reads like a plagiarized essay - each section feels borrowed from some other menu they found on the internet five minutes before their homework was due. And for whatever reason, ceviche, burrata, dumplings, and three versions of mashed potatoes all live chaotically on the same page.
Whatever you do get, it will be underwhelming. The amount of fish that comes on the $23 tuna tostadas (there are three flimsy tostadas per order) could fit in a Tic Tac container. About as much care went into the “signature” mashed potatoes as we put into our own signature when we’re in a rush at Publix. And you’d need to hire an archeologist to find any king crab inside the king crab risotto.
Normally, we’re willing to jump through some hoops in order to eat at a very pretty restaurant. Any meal in Miami that comes with a gorgeous view usually also means paying a little more, or maybe throwing on nice clothes and putting up with a crowd that makes you feel like an extra on Entourage. But Juvia’s obstacles are just too much. And it makes answering that question - how badly do you want to eat on a rooftop - pretty easy for us: not this badly.
Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice
This dish is as confusing to us now as algebra was back in ninth grade. The tiny portion of crispy rice is smashed and spread thin like a crepe, and there is a layer of spicy tuna sprinkled on top that’s so thin we were afraid it would blow away if a strong breeze hit the outdoor tables. The lengths this dish goes to skimp on portions is honestly impressive.
With the microgreens and smashed avocado sitting on top of these tostadas, you almost can’t tell that there are only about four or five ridiculously small cubes of tuna on this $23 dish. Grab a fork and investigate if you want, but it will bum you out.
This is really the only thing we’d order again. The octopus tentacle is tasty, cooked well, and comes sitting in an olive aioli and aji limo chimichurri that’s rich and flavorful. Is it worth almost $30? No, but we’ll count it as a small victory.
Classic Mashed Potatoes
Look, we love a good mashed potato. But everything about this was just sad. It’s underseasoned, comes in a skillet that is comically small, and tastes almost exactly like the kind you make in a microwave.
King Crab Risotto
This dish is 90% plate, but if you look closely, right in the middle of that unnecessarily large plate, is a little pocket of risotto that sort of tastes like the cheesy rice you can buy in packets. Two basically raw pieces of asparagus are arranged on top in an X formation. And there is really no discernible king crab in this dish.
Grilled Korean Short Ribs
Part of the fun of ordering a short rib is having a big hunk of meat to carve into like a caveman. But this comes out already sliced up for you in thin little overcooked strips that taste like they’ve been coated in something way too sweet.
We don’t see seared tuna on a lot of menus in town anymore and this dish reminds us why: it’s more boring and bland than sushi, yet not quite as tasty as a properly cooked piece of fish. It’s the worst of both worlds.