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by Elena Schmidt

In the 24 hours before I discovered Station 28: I worked all day, drove from Fort Lauderdale to South Beach, drank pinot grigio for dinner, hopped to El Tucan for a dirty 30 shindig, and woke up for an early SoulCycle class. My body loved me and hated me equally, and my stomach yearned for immediate sustenance. I knew I wouldn’t survive the 45-minute drive back to Broward, so I googled “burgers near me.” By the grace of the hangover gods, I found Station 28 and consequently discovered the world of Downtown Village restaurants.

While I only dabbled in Station 28’s grub that day, I recently returned to The Village to investigate further. Let’s review the findings.

STATION 28

Near and dear to my heart, Station 28 blends Peruvian cuisine, flavors and vital accoutrements with–wait for it–burgers and sandwiches. This surprising alley eatery features an outdoor grill and bar along with high-top picnic tables placed strategically below shaded umbrellas. Its vibrant street-art decor blends perfectly with its bold flavors. In addition to burgers, Station 28 offers sandwiches with chicharrón (fried pork belly), butifarra (sausage), lomito planchado (beef tenderloin), and lomo saltado (sirloin). My personal favorite is the Criolla burger–a juicy sirloin topped with pickled onions and grilled sweet potato with a side of spicy pink sauce. Visit Station 28 with a big appetite and get ready to fall in love with the prices. In contrast to most of its Village neighbors, Station 28’s cuisine does not exceed $8.99–all day.

Photo: Station 28

BAR DA VILA

Bar da Vila is the perfect spot for hearty, belly busting fare– especially for meat lovers. This Brazilian eatery offers hot-off-the-grill meat coupled with only the finest carbs–think crispy fries, rice and farofa (corn flour mixture). Stop in for lunch, grab a beer for happy hour or check out the weekend scene. Every Friday and Saturday night, Bar da Vila features live samba music for your dancing or listening pleasure. For your meal, Brazil native and Bar da Vila server, Yasminy recommends the Picanha entree (sirloin steak) topped with hot sliced Raclette Cheese. For desert head straight to the Pudim (flan) and savor every bite. Check it out any day of the week, but if you’re looking for plans this weekend, Bar da Vila is hosting a special Boteco night featuring free beer samples from Imperio.

Photo: Acontece Magazine

ALLOY BISTRO

For the Italian lovers who seek fresh and lighter options, Alloy Bistro is an authentic gem nestled in the Village. Alloy’s menu features seafood delivered daily, homemade pasta, and family-style customer service. Pop in for lunch and you’ll notice the Italian owners and partners manning the tables and running the food. Part-owner Luna is at your service and happy to recommend the best dishes for first timers. For seafood lovers, Branzino is the most popular entree. Alloy’s branzino is served skin-on and perfectly salted, sitting atop scallion butter mashed potatoes, alongside lightly steamed spinach. In the mood for pasta? Order the in-house pistachio ravioli stuffed with artichoke cream for a rich-non dairy delight. Check out Alloy for lunch specials mostly under $20 or for the dinner scene. The most popular nights are Thursday thru Sunday.

Photo: www.meetselect.com

MERAKI

Whether you’ve been to Greece or not (I haven’t) is beside the point. Enter Meraki adorned with clean white walls, bamboo light fixtures and lively greek music and you’ll immediately teleport to Santorini. When I walked in to Meraki, I had already indulged in Bard da Vila’s flan and Alloy’s branzino. I was full and unsure what to order until I realized 4 PM happy hour was imminent. It was time to investigate Meraki’s recommended white wine–Boutari Moschofilero. Made from grapes grown in one of the highest elevation vineyards of Greece, Boutari is the perfect blend of citrus and floral notes. After a couple Boutaris, it was time for a light bite and my eyes immediately zoned in on the Honey and Sesame (feta) Cheese Puffs. My suspicions were quickly confirmed when the server recommended it for any one who loves the combination of salty and sweet. I’ll definitely be back to Meraki–next time on an empty stomach–and I’ll head straight for the Octopus appetizer followed by lamb chops.