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Miami's Ten Best Restaurants

Housemade s'mores. They do exist.
Housemade s'mores. They do exist.
Codik

Your buddies just don't understand.

You had an earth-shattering rossejat at the Bazaar. You loved the place -- that is, until you heard some tragic news. Your pal once had a bad bao con lechón there. Now that guy's never going back.

Disgruntled patrons rarely forget a dinner done wrong. Strokes of luck -- and, yes, misfortune -- often determine how Magic City restaurants are assessed.

New Times' Best of Miami issue arrives June 13 and, in honor of the forthcoming awards, I've compiled a list of our town's prime dining spots. These restaurants are great. But be warned: These are personal picks. So don't tell me about about your burnt-croqueta-this, and your scorched-snapper-that. Because, more likely than not, those were flukes.

These places, no matter the haters, are good.

Char siu ramen at Brickell's enigmatic Momi Ramen
Char siu ramen at Brickell's enigmatic Momi Ramen
Momi Ramen via Facebook

10. Momi Ramen

If you were to tell a friend about Momi Ramen, always begin with the pork. Talk about its pungent scent, an aroma that rises from bubbling kettles full of bones. Brief your buds on the décor. Describe the preserved pork belly that glistens like a shrine in the middle of the teeny dining room. And the sake. Don't forget the sake. The noodle house's walls are lined with tons of the stuff. End your story with this: Momi Ramen is quiet. Dine there and hear nothing but slurps. Because, when you're eating Miami's best ramen, there's no need for words.

Order a salad at Yakko-San. Get this.
Order a salad at Yakko-San. Get this.
billwisserphoto.com

9. Yakko-San

Something wonderful happens when you order a salad at Yakko-San, the Japanese restaurant in North Miami Beach. You get some vegetables: sliced cherry tomatoes, radishes, and watercress. But you also get deep-fried morsels of pork. These bits are crisp, smothered in a top-secret homemade soy-based sauce. It's a delicious salad ($7.50). The menu here is extensive, and hours are long. So the best approach to Yakko-San is to visit often. Whenever you go, get the salad. Oh, and try the bok choy. It's fried, too.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Miami® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

 

At Blue Collar, encounter the proper way to cook vegetables.
At Blue Collar, encounter the proper way to cook vegetables.
billwisserphoto.com

8. Blue Collar

Have you met Blue Collar chef Danny Serfer yet? If you haven't, it's OK. He doesn't know me either. But I do know that he's a swell guy. He always says hello. He asks how I'm doing, whether everything is alright, and whether those shrimp and grits ($13) are good. (They always are.) So are the vegetables from his famous "veg chalkboard" -- a listing that includes sautéed kale, roasted fennel, and warm bacony potato salad. Blue Collar has a lot of fans. Some adore Serfer's cheeky grin; others his mac and cheese. Visit Blue Collar for both.

The wizard's craft between buns.
The wizard's craft between buns.
billwisserphoto.com

7. El Mago de las Fritas

There are times when nothing but a frita will do. So go to El Mago de las Fritas. Ortelio Cárdenas' version of the Cuban hamburger features fresh beef patties, a special blend of meats that only he knows how to prepare. Not even his kids know his recipe. Cárdenas fries his own shoestring potatoes, a rarity in this town. He combines it all and makes a unique Miami hamburger -- with reddish beef, fried potatoes, onions, and a squirt of ketchup between a Cuban bun. Try El Mago's frita. Plus, you can get a batido, too.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Miami® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

 

Sit at South Pointe's beach. Eat My Ceviche. Be happy.
Sit at South Pointe's beach. Eat My Ceviche. Be happy.
billwisserphoto.com

6. My Ceviche

A few years ago, if you wanted local seafood prepared in an interesting way, you had to pay $24 for pan-seared grouper with mango coulis. Now, at My Ceviche, you can order grilled Spanish mackerel burrito with coconut-jasmine rice, queso fresco, and pickled red onions for $9.95. There's also ceviche with octopus or tacos with shrimp. Want even better news? Everything costs less than $15. And you're getting food by Sam Gorenstein, a chef who once worked under Laurent Tourondel in New York and Michael Schwartz in Miami, made the list for Forbes' 30 Under 30, and received a nomination as Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation. Nuff said.

See that crispy lookin' thing? It's deep-fried pork rind. Eat it.
See that crispy lookin' thing? It's deep-fried pork rind. Eat it.
billwisserphoto.com

5. Khong River House

50 Eggs is not a restaurant group, it's a budding empire. Although the folks behind Khong River House own many dining spots, this South Beach spot is an easy favorite. Here, the cooking is spicy. There are red chilis in everything. (That's a good thing.) Khong also has large plates: grilled whole fish or slow-cooked whole pork leg. And anywhere you can get good cocktails, red chilis, and a whole pork leg deserves a spot on this list.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Miami® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

 

Macchialina: The Prince of Italian eats.
Macchialina: The Prince of Italian eats.
billwisserphoto.com

4. Macchialina Taverna Rustica

Start with a drink. At Macchialina, cocktails are made with vermouth, prosecco, or aperol. Proceed with antipasti. Try the warm butternut squash salad or broccolini al cesare. Then order Michael Pirolo's amazing fresh pastas. Isn't that what you came to Macchialina for? There's spaghetti con vongole, lasagna with short ribs and taleggio, and cavatelli Macchialina -- teeny pasta shells in a baby meatball and porchetta sauce. Sample the restaurant's tiramisu, which has espresso granita. Espresso? Sure. That's the best way to finish a meal at Miami's best modern Italian restaurant.

Got $160? Go to Naoe.
Got $160? Go to Naoe.

3. Naoe

Maybe you can't afford to visit Naoe every night. The omakase-style restaurant in Brickell Key recently increased its base price from $85 to $160. But the place is helmed by chef Kevin Cory, one of the top sushi chefs not only in Miami, but in the nation. So even if you don't have a couple hundred bucks to spare, Naoe is the kind of restaurant you save up for. It is a special occasion place. The occasion shouldn't be a birthday or anniversary though. Sampling Cory's cuisine is really a special occasion in itself.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Miami® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

 

This and popcorn ice cream.
This and popcorn ice cream.
Simon Hare

2. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

It started with a crush, sometime after my first popcorn ice cream. It was definitely after my first pie in a jar, which may have been lemon meringue-inspired but there's no way to know for sure. If I had to pick the exact moment when I knew this was full-on chef love, I'd say it involved Hedy Goldsmith's childhood treats at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink brunch. (Probably with the housemade s'mores.) There's also Michael Schwartz's farm fresh fare and Bradley Herron's badass charcuterie.

And, for the pedants, the necessary full disclosure applies: I once blogged for The Genuine Hospitality Group. So feel free to disregard everything I just said. But, if you do, you probably haven't tried Hedy's cremoso yet.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Miami® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

Think beyond the gyro! There's an organic garden in Mandolin's backyard.
Think beyond the gyro! There's an organic garden in Mandolin's backyard.
Codik

1. Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Mandolin Aegean Bistro doesn't have a chef. And, if you were to ask owner Ahmet Erkaya why that is, he would probably say: "We aren't a chef-driven restaurant. We're an ingredient-driven restaurant." That might explain the organic garden in Mandolin's backyard. At the open plot, Erkaya and wife Anastasia Koutsioukis grow tomatoes, peppers, greens, and herbs. So order the restaurant's classics: stuffed zucchini, Greek gyro, pulled lamb sandwich, or mussels. Enjoy it in the most beautiful outdoor dining area in Miami. Then try the specials, which usually include salads created with the day's harvest. That's when you'll know. Mandolin doesn't really need a chef. It has a garden.

Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Miami® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.

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Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
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Naoe

661 Brickell Key Drive
Miami, FL 33131

305-947-6263

www.naoemiami.com

miles
Macchialina Taverna Rustica

820 Alton Road
Miami Beach, FL 33139

305-534-2124

www.macchialina.com

miles
My Ceviche

235 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

305-397-8710

www.myceviche.com

miles
Yakko-San

3881 NE 163rd St.
North Miami Beach, FL 33160

305-947-0064

www.yakko-san.com

miles
Momi Ramen

5 SW 11th St.
Miami, FL 33131

786-391-2392

www.momiramen.com


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