Leading up to my return to Portland the last couple days I had quite a number of special new gluten-free experiences on Sunday and Monday (Pei Wei Asian Diner and Cafe Prima Pasta). Unknown to me I was about the make it the trifecta and do new gluten-free three days in a row!
I was flying out of MIA to head back to Portland. My flight was at 4:30 PM, which was a little early for dinner but the flight was 5 hours (to Vegas to connect) so I knew I was going to be hungry. As a send-off for my trip my friend and I had done Dragon Tuesday for lunch and I was still a little full. I figured I’d get maybe a large fries or something right now and some snacks at one of the stores or possibly a burger to go and eat at my gate right before I took off. I didn’t want to do fast food, but also wasn’t sure if a sit-down place was appropriate for my “snack.” Luckily I found what I was looking for (and a lot more) in The Counter.
The Counter at the Miami airport is near D33. It has a sit down section along with the bar as well as a to-go counter. I went to the to-go counter and was looking at the menu (comes on a clipboard) of their burgers, fries, and shakes/floats. Some cheese fries definitely intrigued me and so did the burgers in a bowl at first glance. The “burgers in a bowl” tended to just be regular salads, but one used a veggie burger for the protein and there was one where you can order a mixed green salad with a protein of your choice.
The Counter had little slips of paper where you could custom build a burger. Despite still being a little full from lunch (it was around 3ish as my flight was at 4:30) I knew I would hate myself if I got hungry on a 5-hour flight. Plus since it’d already be pretty painful to fly into Vegas and not stop I wanted to save as much time for gambling at the Vegas airport as possible (no time for food…). So I thought about having a burger/making a custom one. As I was looking at the piece of paper I saw “gluten-free bun” at the very bottom as part of the last step for the custom burgers. Is this real? Gluten-free buns at the Miami airport? Miami?! Like this seems a perfect example for the cliche of “are pigs flying right now?” It was in fact real and that sealed the deal on getting a burger.
I did a custom burger with beef, Tillamoook cheddar (appropriate since I was heading back to Oregon), bacon, a fried egg, and chipotle aioli sauce. It came with fries on the side. It took about 15-20 minutes to be ready. I wanted to do the counter to get it to go, but it probably would have easiest and more enjoyable to have sat at the restaurant and eaten it there. There isn’t really a gate close by to sit at and so standing for 15-20 minutes was a bit awkward.
I took my burger to my gate, checked out everything with my flight, and got settled before eating it. I would say it was 10-15 minutes after I got it that I ate it. I was a bit worried the burger would be all soggy and falling apart (already a problem with gluten-free buns). That was not the case at all. I bet it helped that they had the chipotle aioli sauce on the side. But also the burger wasn’t super greasy and juicy (in terms of being runny). However once you took a bite the burger was juicy and delicious!
Despite the gluten-free bun I was a little wary of the burger because it was a little on the expensive side. That was partially due to the gluten-free bun and partially due to me going custom. Most of the signature burgers are about $13.50 and the MIA burger is just over $15. The custom burger starts at $13.69 for a burger with cheese, regular toppings, a sauce, and the bun involved. I got upcharged for the bacon and fried egg (I probably didn’t need this looking back) $1.29 each and then $1.75 for the gluten-free bun. I understand all those charges, especially the gluten-free bun, but it ended up being a $20 burger with tax. Definitely on the high end for a burger from a more fast-casual place, although it is at the airport. I was wondering if it was gonna be worth it all.
Despite the price tag I would say it was well-worth it. The burger was good meat, nice and juicy, but not overly greasy/fatty. The bun was delicious and took the prize! Right now I can’t even think of a place in Miami that really has a gluten-free bun (besides Pincho Factory‘s special toston burger). So my standards would have been pretty low. This bun competed with the good burger buns even in a place like Portland. Not dry or crumbly. I could actually eat a burger with my hands (and not have it be a mess!). The chipotle aioli was the next best part after the bun itself. I’m rarely able to enjoy a non-messy burger (even though the messy ones without buns can be delicious) and that’s even before adding sauce, so to be able to enjoy a pretty good burger on it’s own with a gluten-free bun and chipotle aioli made me a very happy guy. The fries were also good- a bit crispy but not too much. They were great to finish off the chipotle aioli. I definitely want to try their cheese fries on my next visit.
The Counter luckily has a regular restaurant in Aventura so I will definitely be making that my main burger stop in North Miami-Dade. The one at MIA though might even affect my flying pattern. Although of course the first consideration for booking flights is price, I go back and forth on flying American out of Miami. Usually those are the most convenient flights, I have AAdvantage, and the D-terminal is the nicest terminal. But the D-terminal at MIA before and at security is always a dysfunctional, borderline riotous madhouse. The south terminal in comparison can seem almost like a relaxing spa (no joke I sometimes feel relaxed going through security because it’s not anywhere close to the D-concourse). However now with The Counter in D gate it might sway me to endure the craziest of D-terminal more often to have that as my go-to food leaving Miami (besides picking it for price or American preference of course). That might be a bit crazy, but it is a pretty good burger.
If you’re flying through MIA and around D-terminal make a stop for good burgers (in general) and then for you gluten-frees definitely make the stop. Gluten-free can be a pain just getting something in airports and this is like a huge bonus. For those outside security check out their Aventura location and other locations around the country (most in California).
The Counter- Miami International Airport Gate D33 (and location in Aventura)