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Nicole Lopez-Alvar
Photograph: Courtesy Nicole Lopez-Alvar

Hot in Your Hood: The best Pinecrest restaurants, according to this TV personality

Here are the neighborhood spots The Bachelor’s Nicole Lopez-Alvar goes when she’s hungry.

Virginia Gil

Hot in Your Hood is our curated neighborhood series, where friends of Time Out Miami highlight the locally owned businesses they love in the areas they reside in. Read on to find out the spots these tastemakers recommend in the ’hoods they rep, from the fun stuff like great places to eat and shop to the practical things, like where they go to break a sweat or get something repaired. These mini-guides are personal recommendations intended to show support to our small-biz community—#notsponsored.

By Nicole Lopez-Alvar (Known for her appearances on TV's The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise), as told to Virginia Gil

When Miami residents think of Pinecrest, they likely imagine retired folks eating corned beef sandwiches at Roasters ‘n’ Toasters or parents picking up their kids from Gulliver Academy (or any one of the many private schools in the area) before heading to Wayside Marketplace for a fruit smoothie. While both of these scenarios are true, there’s still more to the suburban Village of Pinecrest than meets the eye.

Pinecrest is like no other neighborhood in Miami. The area’s lush and there’s foliage everywhere. It’s quiet and safe enough for families to get around in golf carts. And the residents are an eclectic mix of passionate people. I’ve lived here since I was four years old and I am so one of those passionate people.

When it comes to restaurants, it’s all hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop spots. You won’t find chain restaurants or big-time steak houses. The places aren’t fancy but they have so much charm. Now more than ever it’s important to support these local businesses, including some of my favorites below.

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Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant 

In business for more than 20 years, Guadalajara is my go-to for authentic Mexican food in Pinecrest. From the fajitas and burritos to the tacos and the table pico de gallo (which is to-die-for), get ready for a delicious fiesta in your mouth. Plus, owner Cesar Berrones is almost always around to make sure that you’re well taken care of.

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Shaddai Fine Lebanese Cuisine

Where to begin?! To the tune of fellow Pinecrest resident Camila Cabello’s, “Havana,” half of my heart is at Shaddai (ooh na-na). You are treated like family the moment you walk into the restaurant. Chef Tony Sammour was born in Bethlehem and has been cooking from the age of 8—and it shows. Every dish is spectacular but I have one very specific recommendation: the Shaddai Lemon Chicken. Please. Just do it. And then maybe get a kabob with a side of the restaurant’s traditional Lebanese basmati rice. You can thank me now.

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Captain’s Tavern

Established in 1971, Captain’s Tavern has consistently served great seafood for nearly half a century. It’s the neighborhood go-to for lobster, oysters, stone crabs and chowders—so you’ll want to bring people you love here. I like to call it, “the Joe’s Stone Crab of Pinecrest,” because one glimpse of the dinner menu (plus the old school ambiance) and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the South Beach institution.

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Daily Bread

This family-owned and operated Middle Eastern restaurant lacks all the fancy bells and whistles but it’s been serving happy customers since 1978 just the same. I have so many great memories coming here throughout my life—it’s plain delicious. As a marketplace, Daily Bread also has a variety of specialty products and delicacies from around the world, including from places like Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Greece, Israel and beyond.

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It’s been around for 30 years and is my family’s go-to for a fancy night out or for special occasions. But it’s not just a restaurant—walking into Anacapri is like visiting Italy. (Actually, this might be the closest we can get to Italy this year.) The dining room connects to a wine cellar where customers can pick a bottle to enjoy with dinner or bring home, and there’s also a market next door that sells fresh pasta and other authentic imports.

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Original Big Tomato

Growing up in the Village, the Original Big Tomato has been my family’s weekend dinner haunt for over 20 years. The bread bowl salads are my obsession, but they also serve healthy wraps, oven-roasted chicken wings and panini sandwiches. But it all started with the pizzas, so make sure you get a pie. The dough is made fresh daily and covered in the secret Big Tomato sauce. There’s no other pizza like it in Miami. Try it for yourself and you’ll understand why.

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Rincón Español

Oh, Rincón, Rincón. How I love thee. Known as “the best of Spain in Pinecrest,” this casual, yet intimate and romantic little deli has been serving traditional tapas and Spanish wines for years. Walking into Rincon Español takes you out of the Miami bubble and transports you to another time, where people would gather over jamón serrano, manchego cheese and fine vino. Although in-door dining is not an option currently, please still love their takeout. You won’t regret it!

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