If you’ve lived in the Miami area for more than 5 minutes chances are you’ve been to a Books and Books location in the area. What started out as a simple book store in Coral Gables has expanded to include several locations with not only books but good food to go along with it. Now celebrating 30 years in the book biz, owner Mitch Kaplan has done Miami a solid with his bookstores and cafes.

The Cafe at Books & Books’ newest location is in Miami’s Arts and Theatre District at the Adrienne Arsht Center. Under the direction of Chef Allen Susser the cafe menu is simple and tasty. On a recent stop for lunch I tried the wild mushroom stir fry. ($15) The mushrooms are tossed with green beans, ginger and farro. The veggies are nice and crisp. The smoked salmon tartine ($13) was served on Zak the Baker bread. I almost didn’t order the curried chicken salad ($13) because I’m not a huge curry fan but I’m glad I did. It’s served with mango, raisins, walnuts and couscous but the salad never lets the curry flavor be the boss. Chef Allen’s urban pickles ($8) are a cornmeal battered, crunchy, deep fried guilty pleasure. The Cafe is serving up Metropolis coffee. A small batch artisan coffee company based in Chicago consistently rated tops in roasting. I ordered something called a “criollo mocha” ($4). A coffee hot chocolate mash up that’s spiced with cinnamon, cayenne pepper and anise. I had some reservations the chocolate might make it too sweet but the coffee taste came through loud and clear.

The Cafe at Books & Books at the Arsht Center has indoor and outdoor seating and it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On show nights they’ll offer pre-show fixed price menus. Monday nights Chef Allen features a 3 course, farm to table, vegetarian fete for $25. That’s less than valet parking at some places!

Belkys Best Bite: Chef Allen’s Urban Pickles

The Cafe at Books and Books Adrienne Arsht Center
1300 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33132

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