When someone comes to visit from out of town and they want to have lunch with me during the week while I am at work, I usually take them to Garcia’s, a popular haunt for people who work in Downtown Miami. It’s been around since 1966 and the seafood is extra-fresh and mouth-watering. It is located on the Miami River so it is a pleasing view if you decide to sit outside, which I think it is the ideal place to sit at Garcia’s
I was with Mr. H, my dining companion, and this time I ordered the Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell, the Steamed Shrimp Cocktail and the Conch Steak. He decided to do the same.
The oysters were almost alive, still tasting like the sea. I ate mine plain, with a simple sprinkling of lime and the flavor was just sparkling. I pictured them being caught that very same morning, they were so fresh.
Next came the shrimp cocktail: four massive and perfectly steamed shrimps served on a bed of lettuce and topped with a tangy cocktail sauce. The texture of the shrimps was faultless but I do have one complaint about this dish - four shrimps are not enough...I could have eaten four more.
Finally comes the Conch Steak, one of the House Specialties and a dish very dear to my heart. All specialties come with a choice of two side orders: white or yellow rice, french fries, cole slaw, parsley potatoes, house or caesar salad, sweet or green plantains. I chose my usual sides , parsley potatoes and cole slaw. Conch is a food that I adore and grew up with and here at Garcia’s they give it a special treatment.
The conch steak can be grilled or fried and I ordered the grilled version because of the smoky flavor. Now, the texture of conch is either something you love or hate but cannot be indifferent to. It is on the chewy side if it is not cooked properly, a consistency reminiscent of octopus. I happen to like this particular texture so this is perfect for me.
This rendition of conch is served in “steak form”, flattened out, softened and gently spiced & grilled. I can eat this every day, no joke. The potatoes were simply seasoned with the parsley which provided an added zest and color.
If you go for lunch, get there early and sit outside. It is always busy for lunch as it is affordable and it is quite a charming place.
On your way out, buy some fresh fish from the market on the premises for a wonderful dinner at home.
398 NW North River Dr
Miami, FL 33128
By Contributor Writer and Photographer Brenda Benoit