One of the great pleasures lost to all of those still working remotely from home rather than in a downtown office is the midday meal. Coral Gables has one of the greatest and most concentrated collections of restaurants in South Florida. The good news is that many offer inexpensive lunch specials. Here are some of the best.
Lunch $8 – $12
What is the threshold for an inexpensive lunch that is both high quality and satisfying? We set the bar at $12. And we are not talking about pizza or hamburgers. These are good midday meals.
Patrons come for the extensive menu and the blackboard specials. They also come for the luncheon bento box, which at $11.99 features a protein choice (sashimi, chicken or fish teriyaki, garlic beef or sushi) along with vegetable tempura, California roll, salad and miso soup. The chicken or beef donburi bowls at $9.95 are also hearty.
159 Aragon Ave. 305.445.2584
Everything is big at Yard House: Enough TV screens to fill a Best Buy, a vast menu, 200 types of beer, oversized booths. But not so the lunch combo price, soon to return post-pandemic. For $9.95 you get a hearty half sandwich with a soup or salad. And good ones, too: Tomato bisque, clam chowder, Caesar, etc.
Shops at Merrick Park 305.447.9273
Burger Bob’s is a time machine to an earlier age, with round stools at the lunch counter and waitresses that call you “hon.” The menu is 1950s style, with burgers, BLTs, chicken salad, club sandwiches and chili by the bowl or cup – and prices to match. The most expensive thing on the menu is the $7.50 tuna melt, and the burgers are still $5.
2001 Granada Blvd. 305.567.3100
The long-time mainstay for traditional Cantonese food in the Gables, Canton Chinese does not disappoint. Here you will find those comfort food favorites like chicken chow mein, sweet and sour pork, pepper steak and shrimp in lobster sauce. At lunch time, you can order these and more, with a side of soup or egg rolls, for $8 to $10. Generous-sized dishes and plenty of seating.
2614 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.448.3736
Small, charming house of innovative crêpes and vegan smoothies. Three tables are set up outside under a shady tree and inside it’s all wood. Their salad and vegetarian crêpes at $11.50 to $11.75 are taste sensations. Try the chicken teriyaki salad crêpes, or the veggie crêpe with brie, apple and walnut.
2423 Galiano St. 786.636.8939
And, For a Little More ($13 – $16)
This authentic Spanish tavern is known for its tapas and live flamenco shows. But its lunch specials are quite amazing. For $13 you can order from a two-course menu that changes daily, with two choices each for first and second courses. On Thursdays, for example, you start with fried sardines or lentil soup, and finish with grilled salmon in a light lemon sauce or arroz con pollo.
254 Giralda Ave. 786.362.5677
This urban hideaway, just around the corner from the Coral Gables Museum, serves large, delicious ramen noodle or rice bowls with meat, fish and veggies for $14-$15.50. Everything on the menu is outstanding – fresh, delicious and filling.
2330 Salzedo St. 305.960.7016
The perfect place to discover that Peruvian food is more than just ceviche. Their chaufus – Peruvian style wok-fried rice with beef, chicken or fish – run $14-$17, and are delicious. They also serve Seco de Res – beef stewed in beer – for $16 and Aji de Gallina – shredded chicken in Amarillo and walnut sauce – for $14.
1930 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.476.5886
It’s big, it’s easy, it’s comfortable, and it’s where the mojito chicken lunch special (a half-roasted chicken cooked in a lime, orange and herb sauce) with rice, beans and plantains still cost just $12.95. You can also get juicy pork chunks, shredded roast pork, or palomilla steak, with two sides, for $13.95.
4612 S. Le Jeune Rd. 305.661.2622
This hip hangout for foodies has an inventive and ever-changing menu, with dishes like grilled cauliflower with toasted corn nuts and fried sesame-ginger Brussels sprouts. Except for their fried chicken and waffles ($21), all their lunch plates are $15-$16. Our favorite: Grilled free-range chicken with Greek yogurt dip, pita bread, green salad and the best French fries ever.
804 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.448.6524