My parents and sister moved from Boston to Miami in 2005. Each time they discover a fantastic new restaurant, they declare, "We're taking you here on your next visit!" When I flew down in July, they had already decided which spot I needed to experience, 1-800-Lucky in Wynwood.
1-800-Lucky is on NW 23rd Street, just three blocks from the Wynwood Walls. True to the character of the neighborhood, the exterior is home to a giant mural.
Inside, the space is set up like an Asian market. There are seven food vendors, each with their own menu and tablets for checkout. It's super fun to walk up to each stall and see what they are offering. The featured brands are Hayato Miami, Les Banh Amis (a delightful French mash up), Lotus + Cleaver, Myumi, Poke OG, Taiyaki NYC and Yip.
My dad was so cute. He saw me taking pictures and said, "Hey, Mol. Don't you want to get a shot of me ordering?"
Since my mom, my dad and I all have such different taste in food, this was the perfect place for us. We walked around, saw what appealed and each placed our own orders. At every stall, you get a buzzer to know when your food is ready. We took our pile of buzzers and perched at a table on the outdoor patio.
I am kicking myself for not getting a shot of the entire outdoor patio because it was huge and beautiful. It felt like you were in a tropical garden, not in one of Miami's most bustling neighborhoods.
Our buzzers began vibrating and we shot up like rockets, pumped to go collect our various dishes. The first plate to be ready was my dad's poke bowl from Poke OG. He created a custom one with tuna, salmon, edamame, onions, cucumbers, jalapeños, avocado and brown rice, all topped with ginger and sesame seeds.
He described, "Since everything is made to order, this is incredibly fresh, especially the tuna and salmon. Thanks to some of the crispy ingredients, there is a satisfying crunch in every bite."
Next up was my mom's ho fun noodles with smoked pork belly and a soft egg from Lotus + Cleaver. She had this dish on her very first visit here (which solidified she wanted to bring me) and couldn't wait to order it again.
A few noodle twirls in she said, "I really love the slight crunch of the noodles with the decadent taste of the pork belly. The sauce is a smoky black bean and it's very flavorful."
For the table, we picked out a plate of buns - half chicken, half tofu - from Hayato Miami. After the first bite my mom raved, "This is just the fluffiest bun. This chicken is seasoned perfectly." My dad chimed in, "I wish we had gone with the duck, which is what we tried last time. I much preferred those."
I compare all tofu buns to the rendition at Myers + Chang in Boston and I have to say, this version was better. The sauce was spicy, the tofu was just the right texture and each piece of lettuce added a great crunch. I made these disappear very quickly.
For my entree, I decided on the banh mi bowl from Les Banh Amis. Imagine everything you love about banh mi sandwiches, but served over greens and vermicelli noodles instead of the classic French baguette.
Now, before I say what I thought of the dish, it's important to note that at this particular moment in time, my favorite restaurant in Watertown, Strip T's, had just closed and that was the place that always made the best banh mi. So to say my expectations were high would be understatement.
All that said, this dish blew me away. The vegetarian version is served with a supremely generous portion of avocado, piled on top of pickled daikon radish and carrots, cucumbers, jalapeños, onions and then topped with mayo and hoisin sauce. Every single bite was coated in sauce and I truly couldn't get enough. The flavor combination was bursting in my mouth with each bite.
To help me control the heat from all the spicy food, I went up to the bar to get a drink. I asked the bartender for the cocktail menu and he said, "We don't have one. Tell me what you typically like and I'll whip you up something." I asked for vodka mixed with something sweet and this is what I got:
Still not sure what exactly was in the drink, but on that hot Miami night, with all the jalapeños I was eating, it did the trick.
For the grand finale, my dad and I got in line at Taiyaki NYC, know for their very Instagram-able ice cream. He went with a soft serve twist of matcha green tea and vanilla with chocolate sprinkles.
He's really more of a coffee ice cream guy, so he didn't love this.
I ordered one of their signature cones called "the classic." It was vanilla soft serve, chocolate sauce and crushed Oreos on top of a fish-shaped cone with a dollop of red bean paste hiding at the bottom of the cone.
This tasted just like cookies and cream, but was embarrassingly messy to eat. This is definitely not first date food.
As we were getting ready to head out, I noticed a sign I had missed when we first walked in. The entrance to the outdoor patio asks in neon letters, "Feeling lucky?"
This was one of the best meals I've had in Miami in over 13 years of visiting. I rarely like a place enough to want to go back (I always opt to try something new) but I loved 1-800-Lucky so much that I am going to try and hit it up every time I go back (Thanksgiving weekend, lookin' at you).