Izzy's fried clam bellies
Izzy's fried clam bellies
Photo by CandaceWest.com

Miami's Ten Best Restaurant Dishes of 2015

As 2015 winds down, it's time to take a look in the rear-view mirror. This past year, we've eaten a lot of food and tried a lot of restaurants in Miami. With the city's culinary scene exploding, celebrity players and home-grown favorites have offered some wonderful restaurants. 

A few weeks ago, food critic Zachary Fagenson counted down his top ten dishes of 2015. The rest of the Miami New Times food writers figured we'd chime in. We purposely chose not to include restaurants selected by our esteemed colleague (although Alter's blue crab shumai gets honorable mention as the perfect bite). Together, both lists provide a look back at the most satisfying, soulful, and creative meals we've enjoyed in 2015. 

Cheese!
Cheese!
Photo by Clarissa Buch

10. Fried Brie at Downtown Bistro
Anyone who loves cheese should try it fried. Three pieces of crisp Brie ($8) are served with cranberry, apricot, and almonds and then topped with apple compote. The soft cheese pairs beautifully with the various sweet and tart accompaniments. The dish works as a light bite or a shared starter (if you're willing to let someone else have a bite of this warm piece of heaven). 

Smashed avo
Smashed avo
Photo by Julie Harans

9. Smashed avo at Threefold Café 
The avocado-toast trend exploded this year, and Threefold Café’s version ($13) combines the best of the dish’s traditional aspects with the restaurant’s unique Aussie flair. There’s just something special about a simple dish done well, and it’s all about great ingredients from the bottom up. Threefold starts with a thick, crusty slice of Zak the Baker bread and piles on a mountain of avocado that’s been mashed with feta, lime, and basil. Mushrooms roasted in butter and thyme are sprinkled on top and lend an earthy note to contrast the brightness of the citrus and herbs. Of course, no avocado toast would be complete without yolk oozing over the top, so add the poached egg for $2 extra. After one crunchy, creamy bite, you might even become a morning person.

The 50/50
The 50/50
Photo by Tony Espinoza

8. 50/50 burger at 180 Degrees at the DRB
If it's your first time at 180 Degrees, try the 50/50 burger ($15). It's made with a mix of chorizo and Angus beef and topped with queso frito, maduro, a fried egg, and spicy citrus aioli. Have it as a burger or ask for the slider version.

Izzy's fried clam bellies
Izzy's fried clam bellies
Photo by CandaceWest.com

7. Fried clam bellies at Izzy's Seafood & Oyster
The fried clam bellies ($26) at Izzy's Seafood & Oyster have a unique saltwater flavor that's addictively delicious. Another element that makes this delicacy so special is that the slightly bitter orbs are indigenous to Maine and thus rarely seen on Miami menus. Bring on the tartar sauce. 

Thanksgiving ramen
Thanksgiving ramen
Photo by Laine Doss

6. Thanksgiving ramen at Talde at Thompson Miami Beach Hotel
OK, it won't be on the menu again until next holiday season, but that fact makes this dish only more desirable. Dale Talde's inspired creation starts with a base bowl of ramen and adds slices of glazed turkey, whole cranberries, stuffing balls, and creamed-spinach-filled wontons. This is the holidays in a bowl. Talde also made a matzo ball ramen for Hanukkah, so it's safe to say we might see more holiday-centric bowls of pure satisfaction ($25 for two).

Burmese noodle wraps
Burmese noodle wraps
Photo by Laine Doss

5. Burmese noodle wraps at NaiYaRa
Chef Bee's new Sunset Harbour restaurant only recently opened, but some dishes already feel like a homecoming of sorts. Take, for instance, the Burmese noodle wraps ($15). Thick noodles are wrapped around Thai chili paste, palm sugar, and peanuts and served with a sweet chili/soy dipping sauce. The dish was a popular bar snack at Khong River House that was sorely missed when Khong shuttered (with a promise to pop up somewhere on the mainland). Seeing the noodles on NaiYaRa's menu is like being reunited with your long-lost best friend. 

Lionfish crudo
Lionfish crudo
Photo by Laine Doss

4. Lionfish crudo at Driftwood Room
Miami's year-round balminess necessitates light eating, so many restaurants offer ceviche and crudo options, usually offering fresh snapper, mahi-mahi, or tuna. Chef Alex Guarnaschelli puts a spin on seafood by opting to serve lionfish crudo ($13). This gorgeous villain of our waters is running rampant in the Atlantic. With no local predators (except humans), they're free to devour everything in sight and make more baby lionfish. By eating this invasive species, we're actually doing a service to the local marine life. Plus, they taste great! Driftwood Room's lionfish is served with a light drizzle of olive oil and citrus and garnished with pequillo peppers, Roma tomatoes, and basil. It's a beautiful presentation on a mission.

Sizzlng wor bar
Sizzlng wor bar
Photo courtesy of the Continental

3. Sizzling seafood wor bar at the Continental
Order the Continental's sizzling wor bar ($28) and you'll get dinner and a show. A team of servers marches through the dining room with a crackling, sizzling cast-iron platter of joy. Diners stop and watch this parade that places the steaming, fragrant presentation at your table — a colorful jumble of shrimp, lobster, scallops, and vegetables in oyster sauce. This is about as authentic a Chinese-restaurant-in-Brooklyn dish as you can get without taking a plane to Bensonhurst. 

Hotpot
Hotpot
Photo by Hannah Sentenac

2. Vegan curry hotpot at Temple Kitchen
South Miami's Temple Kitchen's curry favor hotpot ($11) is a delightfully comforting midday meal. The hotpot pairs homemade green curry with red chili, fresh mushrooms, eggplant, crunchy edamame, and creamy coconut milk. The mixture is served atop organic wild rice with a stunning edible purple orchid. The coconut milk makes this dish surprisingly filling for a vegan lunch, and the red chili plants a subtle tingle on the lips.

Kimchee fried rice
Kimchee fried rice
Photo by Laine Doss

1. KImchee fried rice at 27 Restaurant & Bar
If you're looking for a mashup of everything that's good in this world, look no further than this plate of kimchee fried rice ($19). Who knew that a rich duck egg and the tangy funk of fermented cabbage would play so well together on a bed of fried rice? The dish, which can serve up to four people as a side or one hangry (and possibly hungover) diner, is comfort food to the millionth degree. Break open the softly fried eggs and let the golden yolk run all over the plate. It's a messy, lovely, soulful dish that needs no foams or flowers to make it beautiful.

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