There is no other gut bomb at 5am than a great sandwich from the side of the road, literally. When you are out on the town, Downtown Miami to be exact, stop in at one of my old holes and experience ultimate early morning fill up.
How did I come across this place? Well, if you must know, during my stint of living in South Beach, I ran across this place. The ideal location, last street before you cross the causeway back to South Beach or looking at it the other way first street over the causeway away from the beach, made it a convenient stop. Living and working on South Beach did not necessarily equate to playing on South Beach. Metro Miami, Aventura, Kendall, let’s leave out Hialeah, Calle Ocho, Little Haiti, Culver City, and all the other unsavory locales that if you are not a local don’t venture into. Not all of Miami is a 24 hr. operation, there are few here and there, if you know where to go. After grazing, it is advisable to keep one of these places in your memory bank. Manolo y Rene was my choice.
After watching the Heat vs Rockets game last week, I went back to retrieve my car from the valet to go grab a bite on South Beach. Ooops, language barrier or my trusting self, the valet was closed for the night. Luckily, I was staying at the Continental Bayside Hotel right downtown. So I walked around the block to find my old haunt. Places change and memory fade, I did not realize that Manolo y Rene Cafeteria was on the back street of the hotel. Was it memory fade or fogged memory from the time in Miami. Needless to say I was delighted.
This place takes up the corner of NE 1st St. and NE 3rd Ave. The windows open towards the street. I don’t even know why they bother to have roll up doors, this place is open 24 hrs. Maybe for rain, oh Hurricanes. The counter is lined with chairs and if there are people sitting on those chairs, which there almost always is, you have to scream your order over their shoulder. The menu is large and hung behind the counter or a specials board is not the side. If in doubt ask. If you can’t speak Spanish, ask a customer to help you. Most of the people behind the counter speak broken English, but they’ll understand. The truth, you can’t go wrong with anything here, so fair none.
Palomilla Steak with French Fries and Salad – Thin cut steak pounded even thinner and marinated in Cuban seasonings, grilled on a flat top to tender succulent perfection. You don’t need a fork and knife for this. Grad with one hand and rip into it like a savage.
Steak Sandwich – Same palomilla steak with french fries, tomatoes, and lettuce in toasted Cuban bread. This puts any late night cravings to rest.
Pasteles – Flaky Cuban pastry filled with Guava and Cheese. Fresh and delicious.
The memories of long nights, though I can’t quite disclose for obvious reasons, came rushing back. This is just honest down to earth food in what can sometimes be a very pretentious city. It is sad to see some smaller excellent food “holes” get snuffed out by larger more hip and cool joints on South Beach. Here is hoping that the revitalization of Downtown Miami does not snuff out Manolo y Rene Cafeteria. Great reliable food for real people.