Name: Alex Bokor
Lives In: Miami, Florida
Restaurant Pick: Pamela’s Restaurant
Reviewed: Pamela’s Restaurant
This is one of my happy places. We first went with my father in law, who was born in Chile, for a taste of his childhood. And that’s the feeling you get even when you aren’t Chilean—its like a big hug with big portions. I love seafood so there’s so much to try, especially great when they have the locos (Chilean abalone) or erizo (sea urchin with onions and cilantro and lime juice), but mostly I just go like I did the last time for tasty, simply prepared food like the congrio (conger eel), or the palta rellena (stuffed avocado) with a reasonably priced glass of chilean wine. It is relaxing, different yet comforting, and delicious. The service is great too. There’s plenty of parking out front, and there is usually at most a small wait. Last time we didn’t wait at all. It is not a huge place, and it is not fancy. It has a very homey feel to me. The service is always so warm and friendly. I love the bread (pan amasado I believe, which is sort of like a dense roll) served with the pebre (slightly spicy Chilean salsa) to start, and then we usually get some appetizers so we can share, like the palta rellena *stuffed avocado, one with shrimp for me and one with tuna for my wife, and then we got the steamed clams (machas) a la parmesana. They are so delicious and I love to have some of the bread left over to scoop the juice and garlicy cheese topping that sometimes gets stuck to the shells! We both had congio, hers was steamed in a sauce, but I prefer it fried. They do a beautiful job both ways, but the fried fish is so perfectly flaky and tender, it is a firm fish that holds up well and matches with the a lo pobre style with the egg on top . For desert, there are plenty of authentic Chilean or Andean fruit purees that they use for their cheesecakes or pies, and I love the lucuma cheesecake, it is slightly custardy, not overly sweet and has a nice texture. My wife loves maracuya or passionfruit and anything with manjar or dulce de leche, and we’ve had plenty of their desserts they are all awesome but this last time we just split the one. We both had a glass of white, but if you’re thirsty the bottles are very reasonable and nice quality for the price. All in all, it’s a unique ethnic find that may not taste like your home but it is certainly homey. It’s a fun way to go out for seafood without breaking the bank.
Name: Gina Pelaez
Occupation: English Teacher
Lives In: Hialeah
Restaurant Pick: Ball and Chain
Reviewed: Pamela’s Restaurant
Dining at Pamela's felt like being invited to dinner at a Chilean friend's home. It was proper in every sense but casual simultaneously. Everything was fresh and unpretentious, well prepared in appropriate portions that would suit any visitor while allowing them to enjoy a full 3 courses. My daughter was celebrating her 19th birthday the following day and we were hoping to have a pre-celebration dinner just us. None of us had ever tried Chilean food so we thought it was be the perfect place to enjoy each other’s company while trying something new. She lives at UM and we are in Hialeah so this was the perfect middle ground to meet up. We almost passed the location even with the GPS directing us but quickly realized it's location upon seeing the house like door flanked by iron gates that looked out of place in the shopping center strip on Bird Road. We walked in and were indicated by a waitress as she walked past to serve another table that we could take a seat where we pleased. The thick leather-bound menus were impressive but it was a little difficult to understand what was being offered even though we are all fluent in Spanish as well as English. It took us a bit to understand what our selections were even though our soft spoken waitress was very patient with us she offered little in terms of us fully understanding. My husband loves corn so ordering the humitas was a sure thing. The waitress let us know that they were out of the tamal leaf which is used to wrap the dish but that it wouldn't change the taste of the dish only it's presentation. My girls also love avocados and shrimp so the second appetizer was also an easy pick, palta reina con camaron, which needed to be explained to us and which we didn't expect to be cold but didn't mind when it was brought out. Everything was fresh and plentiful. The bread rolls that were first brought to the table along with the salsa were satisfying and paired well to scoop up the sauces and bits left in the appetizer plates. When our appetizers arrived we all realized we had only ordered water but nothing else to drink. I asked for a wine list but was told that if I didn't want a bottle they only offered three house wines by the glass, Merlot, Cabernet and savignon blanc. I inquired about the Chilean sodas for the kids but was told they were sold out for the day. I ordered a glass and told my husband to wait to make sure we liked it before ordering one for himself. The wine pour was so generous (and the glass so big) that we were able to share the nice Cabernet between us two.
Dinner selection was a process to say the least. It was difficult to understand some of the terminology so I went with something safe and ordered the pan-grilled grouper with rice to share with my husband while our girls ordered the asado (brisket). The portions were both big enough to share. The brisket was well cooked but perhaps a bit too rich as the girls (who were sharing the plate) could not finish it because of this fullness. I was quite content with my grouper which was cooked well and crispy around the edges but my husband was not as happy with his half as he got the thicker piece which wasn't cooked all the way through. The rice side was fluffy and had a good taste even for simple white rice. I topped it off with some of the sauce given with the bread at the beginning of our meal and was very pleased with the whole dish. We mentioned to the waitress that it was our daughter's birthday so when they brought out our dessert selection our waitress along with a couple other servers sang her happy birthday and placed a candle on the cake. It was a nice gesture and much appreciated. That cake was WOW! We had thought we were ordering a crispy confection topped with merengue and dulce de leche but instead got a cake slice. At first, we all shrugged unimpressed but still willing to take a bit because it was a birthday celebration. Each of us was given a fork and we took just a piece each at first. And then, magic. I think the moment each of us noticed how good it was we were hoping someone didn't like it as much to have just a bit more. We literally cleaned the plate of any bit of cake that could've been left. It was moist but not wet, sweet but just enough to keep you coming back for more. It was the perfect way to hook us into wanting to come back for another meal or maybe just a dessert drive by.
Name: Eric Snow
Occupation: Aerospace Program Director
Lives In: Hollywood, Florida
Restaurant Pick: Tipsy Boar
Reviewed: Ball and Chain
We decided to take our family of six down to Pamela’s for a late Sunday afternoon lunch. Located in a strip mall off SW 40th street, we arrived @ 130pm and were fortunate enough to be seated immediately in this quaint restaurant. We waited for about 5 minutes for the staff to find one of their staff members who spoke English to help our table. Our server did a great job with her English – they brought out bread (similar to a puffy cracker), butter, and salsa – a first for us (thinking we would have chips). We ordered drinks (waters & soda), seafood soup, and a round of different empenadas (beef, cheese, seafood). Our server brought out the piping hot empenadas, along with 2 additional empenadas (shrimp & cheese) for us to try. Everyone had their favorite (or two) – they were big and delicious! And the soup was creamy, rich, and flavorful – not a drop was left! We ordered lunch after eating the empenadas: Chicken & Rice, Chicken w/ Mushroom Sauce, Ham & Cheese Sandwiches, and Pork filet. I was unsure what to order so I asked the server to bring me whatever she thought would be good – and I was not disappointed. I was served a mixed seafood plate of mussels, fish, shrimp, in a pink cream sauce with potatoes. In asking the family what they thought of their meals, everyone indicated they thought the food was really good with the exception of the chicken (seemed salty & dry) and the pork (seemed dry). Aside from that, everyone was satisfied with their meal – we had 3 different takeout containers to bring home. We saw one of the servers walk by with a 7-layer cake and we opted to order one in addition to café-con leche and an espresso. The cake was creamy & sweet; again, nothing left on the plate! Our bill was similarly priced to what we would expect to pay to take out a family of six people; tip was included. We paid our bill and walked outside, only to find a shirtless man in front of the barber shop dancing to the loud music therein – definitely an interesting way to end our Sunday meal.
Location: 8469 Bird Rd, Miami, FL 33155
Type of Cuisine: Chilean/Spanish
Accommodations for Children: Yes