By By: Moreton Neal
Bargain dinners aren’t scarce in RTP. The area empties out at night, and many of its unpretentious ethnic eateries offer dinner at lunch prices, or just give up at low tide and close their doors.
Serena Restaurant and Bar is a different kettle of fish. By dinner time, the only cars traveling down South Miami Boulevard all seem to be heading to the parking lot outside Serena’s door. This new Spanish-influenced eatery has become so popular that its devotees return for dinner and are fast spreading the word.
Unfortunately for budget diners, Serena has abandoned its tapas format and entrée prices aren’t cheap. Yet there are bargains to be had if you order carefully. You’ll have to split the chicken/ shrimp/chorizo paella ($13) with a companion if you crave a glass of the bar’s pleasant house red or white ($5). Or try the unusual Serena burger topped with melted fontina, roasted piquillo peppers and a mellow garlic spread ($8). Better yet, split the burger and its substantial side of crispy skin-on fries with a companion, share the Manchego Caesar salad ($7), and enjoy your choice with a cool bottle of Stella Artois. Portions aren’t huge, but there’s plenty for two average-sized stomachs.
It’s pretty obvious that Serena occupies a space abandoned by an ordinary sandwich shop---its austere ambience out of sync with the talent and sophistication of its chef. My crystal ball predicts the place will be ‘discovered’ and relocated to a more appropriate upscale setting sooner or later. So, bargain hunters, go to Serena now before the eatery reappears in a tonier neighborhood and prices move on up with it
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