The only thing more enticing than a knowledgeable server’s description is watching the dish come together before your very eyes. The trend of tableside preparation took a break from the forefront of contemporary dining, but it's thankfully making a comeback. Miami restaurants are applying the practice across a broad spectrum of cuisines: think freshly sliced, succulent Peking duck, pasta assembled in a Parmesan bowl, and steak sauce crafted seconds before making its way to the plate. If you’re not a regular or industry insider who feels comfortable peeking into the kitchen, these dramatic dishes are the next best thing. So sit back and watch as “freshly made” takes on a whole new meaning: It’s like dinner and a show for the modern foodie.
5. Steak sauce at Quality Meats
Opened in the historic Bancroft Hotel in Miami Beach's Art Deco District, this spinoff of the New York steakhouse is a carnivore’s dream. Quality Meats serves a seemingly endless variety of cuts, from sirloin steak to duck bacon, many of which are aged, cured, or smoked in-house. The steakhouse treats these meats with the respect they deserve by accompanying them with a vibrant, sweet-and-savory sauce made right at your table. The mixture of rosemary, garlic, raisin, molasses, thyme, and tomato provides a tangy touch of flavor while letting the succulent steaks shine. Showy presentations don’t end there, though; Quality Meats also offers tableside tartare made with fresh steak pieces, shallots, Dijon, and truffled capers.
4. Spaghetti alla ruota at Pane & Vino
Despite the restaurant's location in the heart of Miami Beach, this dish is simple: spaghetti, cheese, and a tomato-based sauce. Yet its unique presentation wows customers and creates the freshest possible plate of pasta. For Pane & Vino’s spaghetti alla routa ($18), pots are swapped for a giant wheel of parmigiano-reggiano that Sicily-born chef Gianpaolo Ferrera imports from Italy. The hunk of cheese is brought to the table, scraped out, and filled with deep-red sauce and a hefty portion of pasta. If you don’t want the show to end, order the tiramisu ($9) for dessert. It’s also assembled tableside, giving the ladyfingers just enough time to soak without turning soggy.
3. Guacamole at El Rancho Grande
When it comes to tableside dishes, there’s nothing more classic than guacamole mashed and mixed right in front of you. At this North Beach Mexican spot, the traditional dip is executed just right, with chunky avocados, chopped tomatoes and onions, some fresh cilantro, and a hint of heat from jalapeño peppers. Order the small ($4.50) for one or the large ($10) for a group or for days when your guacamole craving hits particularly hard. Of course, guac is only as good as the chip dipped into it, which is why El Rancho Grande’s are always crisp, perfectly salted, and full of flavor.
2. Rotisserie chicken at Marion
In the golden hue of Marion’s European bistro-inspired dining room, heads turn to follow the intoxicating scent of the whole rotisserie chicken ($42). No matter which lucky diner’s table it lands on, the show-stopping dish instantly becomes the centerpiece of the room. Each tender piece is dressed with a bright and savory lemon glaze and sliced on the spot. The bird tastes even better than it looks thanks to a brine of a salt-and-sugar solution that creates a full flavor experience, from the skin’s crunchy exterior all the way to the bone.
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1. Peking duck at Tropical Chinese
Head to Tropical Chinese immediately for its high-quality Chinese cuisine. Skip the takeout and have a seat — the restaurant is sleek yet warm, adorned with decorative lanterns and gold detailing. Most important, eating in is the best way to enjoy the Peking duck. The must-order entrée for two costs $65 and is served in two courses: First, the crisp skin is carved and wrapped in a steamed pancake-like wrap with sliced scallions and cucumber. Second, the remaining duck retreats to the kitchen to be carved and sautéed with steamed vegetables. Guests who prefer the pancake preparation can instead opt for just one course of the meat and skin wrapped together.