MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — South Beach simply doesn't do subtle.
From the beaches (and beachwear) and architecture, to the art and the attitudes, Miami's South Beach is all about big and bodacious. And the restaurant scene is no exception. World-class chefs — home-grown and imported — have created an enviably impressive buffet of choices, many of them embedded in a daunting list of swank-heavy hotels.
Which isn't always a good thing. While Miami proper has plenty of options for great hole-in-the-wall grub — some drawn from the area's rich Cuban culture — South Beach itself can feel like a wasteland if you just want great food with flair, but without having to get all gussied up for a fine dining experience.
But if you are willing to wander a few blocks from the beach — including some stretches that seem deserted — there is great grub to be found.
It just requires some suspension of disbelief. That's because both eateries — My Ceviche and La Sandwicherie — are quite literally holes in walls. There are no indoor options at either place and the exteriors are heavy on grunge (and not in a '90s-Kurt Cobain-hip sort of way). But get over it. These places are totally worth it.
Start at My Ceviche, located on a desolate (though somehow not discomforting) chunk of Washington Avenue (the company also has two other locations in Miami). You're looking for a doorway (and not much more) that opens onto a closet-sized counter for placing orders. That's the entirety of the restaurant and you'll need to eat your food outside, most likely standing.
Who cares? This is ridiculously delicious and fresh ceviche with a have-it-your-way vibe. Start by picking a portion size (medium or large), then a protein (fish, shrimp, octopus or a combination). Then the fun begins. You chose one of six ceviche styles (or ways of dressing it). The rocoto (a blend of lime juice, rocoto peppers, cilantro and red onions) is splendidly tangy and savory. Ditto for the tradicional (citrus juices with avocado, tomato, cilantro and jalapenos).
You also can order ceviche "bowls," which serve the same options over your choice of coconut jasmine rice, mixed lettuces or cilantro quinoa. And if seafood isn't your thing, the chicken tacos are excellent (the order of three is perfect for one person), as is the spicy mango slaw (which isn't a "slaw" in the traditional sense, but rather a salad large enough for a meal).