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The Raider Voice

The Student News Site of Gulliver Preparatory

The Raider Voice

Mediterranean Hotspots in Miami

After much deliberation, the decision to select the Babka bread pudding, served warm with vanilla ice cream, and the halva ice cream (sweetened with date syrup and topped with shredded halva) did not disappoint. Made with sesame flour and honey, halva is a confectionery originating from Persia and the Middle East. The babka makes for an indulgent choice, as it is made with brioche dough with either a chocolate or cinnamon filling.

Within pockets of Miami you will find delectable Israeli-Mediterranean bites, without the added costs of long haul travel. As not all Mediterranean eateries are worth the hype, there are best three restaurants are worth your time and money.

Number 3. Nestled south of Fifth, Abbale Telavivian Kitchen is a pocket of Israeli delights. Opened in 2021, Abbale is beautifully decorated, and is a welcoming space for everyone. Their Telavivian lunch menu offers a delectable selection, ranging from spreads, bowls, sandwiches, and salads, among other options. Within the hummus section, the tahini with “herbs, paprika, olive oil, and zhug” ($18), is accompanied with their Jerusalem bagel, the ultimate pairing. The salatim section of the menu is worthy of your attention, specifically the Babaghanoush, with “charcoal tahini, cilantro,olive oil, smoked sea salt”, Muhammara made from “fired roasted peppers and tomato, herbs, aleppo pepper, olive oil”, and za’atar labneh. You is able to select one dip for $8, or select three for $21, all paired with their fire-baked pita.
Their falafels with “tahini and pickled onions’ ‘ ($12) are well-done and very delicious with their pita and hummus. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Telavivian restaurant without a version of Shakshuka ($20) Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce made with tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, onion, and garlic, and sprinkled with cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Paired with their fire-baked Jersulamen bagel, the Shakshuka is the ultimate brunch or lunch dish, and perfect to share with friends and family.

Number 2. Motek (Hebrew for sweetheart) is making waves throughout the city for its versatility and unique twists to the traditional Israeli-Mediterranean cuisine. Unlike other Mediterranean restaurants, Motek is kosher-style and draws inspiration from Israel, Lebanon, and Yemen, Morocco, and Turkey. With a nicely decorated interior, Motek is a welcoming experience, and is perfect for a casual family dinner or brunch.
With all of the different options the menu boasts, Motek is not a place where you will be hungry. From their selection of dips, the Hummus Tehina with “tahini, olive oil, pine nuts, and s’chug”($13), and the Babaganoush, which is grilled eggplant combined with za’atar and pomegranate seeds ($10) are not to be missed. Another appetizer worth considering are the Zucchini Cakes (Latkes), made from a combination of zucchini, “crispy potato, onions, and herbs” and served with a side of labneh. Featured in many plates, labneh is a soft Middle Eastern cheese made from strained yogurt.
Within the sandwich category, the Crispy Chicken Schnitzel, with “challah bread, cabbage slaw, pickles, tomato, sumac,onion, and harissa aioli ($29) is a feast for the eyes, and for the senses as well. This might be Miami’s best crispy chicken sandwich, as it packs a flavorful punch from the first bite. The falafel sandwich, with “tahini,Israeli salad,crispy eggplant, radish” ($14) might be able to convert falafel skeptics to lovers. While this is one option to taste the falafels, they are also able to be enjoyed as an appetizer, entree plate, or in a bowl, which will be mentioned shortly. Although the original Arayes burger, consisting of “pita,beef kufta kebab, tahini, and harissa aioli” ($23) won the People’s Choice Winner Burger Bash in both 2022 and 2023, I prefer the vegan version made with “impossible” meat more ($22).
Served with “Israeli salad, hummus and sumac onions”, one has the ability to customize their bowl to their liking, choosing from range of proteins (Faroe Island Salmon, Falafel, one of three versions of chicken, etc) and selecting between Majadra Rice or Cauliflower Couscous for their base. From experience, the falafel bowl is the preferred choice, as the crunchiness of the falafel works well with the freshness of the salad and the creaminess of the hummus.
Make sure to leave room for dessert, as they are heavy hitters. Between the many options, one reigns supreme above the rest. Their delectable Chocolate Bread Pudding is indulgent, as it is made with the sweet bread, with its roots hailing from Israeli-Askezani Jewish communities of Ukraine and Poland.

Number 1. Mandolin Aegean Bistro is worth the hype and the time-consuming drive to the industrial and fashionable enclave of the Miami Design District. Opened in 2009, the airy, Greek-taverna design will mentally you to the seaside eateries that dot the Mediterranean coastline. Not fancy at its core, Mandolin is the place for those who seek a casual night out, wanting to enjoy an awesome meal without breaking the bank. The menu runs the gamut from light appetizers to heartier entrees, all inspired by the cuisine of the Aegean. From the appetizers ($14-$32), I definitely recommend the Turkish sampler ($24), an array of “hummus/tomato/eggplant” dips that are accompanied with either the freshly made pita bread or vegetables for an additional charge. As a fan of hummus, I felt that their version is perfectly creamy and silky. Another appetizer worth splurging is their kofte, or the “grilled sirloin meatballs”, which are arguably one of the best meatball dishes in Miami. When paired with the light and creamy tzatziki, these are not greasy or heavy. For the entrees, the chicken kebabs “with orzo pilaf and maroulosalata” ($32) was juicy and a flavor explosion at first bite. Another favorite entree are the manti dumplings, made with a combination of “minced beef, garlic yogurt,aleppo pepper, and burnt better” ($30) Its is one of the richer plates, and a few bites are necessary to fully enjoy this dish. While the dumplings are tiny, they pack a powerful punch, and the yogurt sauce is tangy and creamy.
Regardless of which restaurant you decide to visit, you will not be disappoint as you will be met with a meal that packs a flavorful punch.

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About the Contributor
Kate Cooper, Staff Writer
Kate Cooper is a senior and staff writer of “The Raider Voice”. While this is her first year as staff, Kate previously contributed to “The Raider Voice” as a freshman. This year, Kate is looking forward to writing about current international issues, and highlighting local businesses, especially those related to the food industry. Outside of journalism, Kate is an avid traveler who enjoys immersing herself in the local culture. Within the school community, Kate is vice president of Key Club and a Model UN team member.

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