Miami doesn’t always get the best rep. The destination city conjures images of traffic jams, overglitzed glam, models, bottles, Miami Vice. I grew up in the place, and I’m not always quick to jump up in its defense. However, on a recent trip back — part fueled by nostalgia, mostly fueled by the fact that there are some really cool people and spots popping up all over the place — I found more than one reason to love Miami.
Reason numero uno: Being able to dine gourmet at 4 in the morning at gigi — a contemporary comfort food restaurant in the very hip, not-at-all-cliche Design District. We first mentioned gigi in our January issue’s Best of the South Travel Awards as one of the best new restaurant that opened in 2010. I am happy to report the Asian-inspired noodle bar is still going strong — at 4am tables were filled with late-night crowds (more trendy night owls than sloppy drunks) digging into thick-noodle bowls, and fried rice concoctions.
I started with a small, copia dish served with tiny, diced mangoes and rice crackers. I love me some Asian buns, and the beef brisket po'boy buns with barbecue and slaw had just the right amount of Southern comfort. Eager to sample the heartier dishes, my sidekick and I split a portion of shrimp udon noodles (the cute server’s recommendation) and the duck fried rice with an orange glaze — how could we not try duck fried rice? It was, by the way, the best fried-rice I’ve ever had. Since the damage was already done we topped it all off with a gigi Bar — nutella topped with a chocolate mousse and strawberries.
Even at the crack of dawn, the presentation was that of a five-star bistro. The experience is elevated by gigi’s open kitchen that allows you to see the chef’s working it. You can tell they are having as much fun whipping stuff up back there as the diners packing the open, modern space are eating it. And the prices are great. Small plates start at $4, pillowy buns will run you $7, and the bigger dishes fall in the $14-$16 range. There’s also something to be said for the fact that it was late into the next day before we were hungry for food again. It’s like taking care of two meals in one sitting — dinfast (dinner and breakfast), or a sneakfast (late-night snack and breakfast). Whatever you wanna call it, it’s darn good and sits much better than hitting up the drive-thru.
gigi is open for lunch and dinner 12pm-3am Monday through Thursday, and until 5am Friday and Saturday. Brunch is served from 12-4pm on Saturday and Sunday.
giginow.com; 3470 North Miami Ave