Ten Best Brickell Restaurants
Image courtesy AllMiamiRealEstate.com
Things are about to change in Brickell. Whether it will be for the better remains a mystery. At this moment, several stone-gray, nearly finished highrises loom on the skyline. Work is underway on Brickell City Centre, a massive, Hong Kong-financed gigaplex of shops, restaurants, offices, and hotels. Developers have partnered with the Whitman family, which built and owns Bal Harbour Shops, offering a clue as to the type of restaurants that might be on deck.
For now, however, here are the best restaurants Brickell has to offer.
Tobacco's Road's cowboy burger
Image courtesy Tobacco Road
Though its days may be numbered, the 100-year-old watering hole is as reliable for good wings and ribs as it is for cheap, stiff drinks. Tobacco Road's burgers are among the best in the city and nearly impossible to resist after a few rounds.
OTC, short for Over the Counter, fulfilled one of Brickell's howling needs when it opened in 2012: a local place with reliably good food, a fun atmosphere, and good drinks. It's become the neighborhood's best craft beer bar. In 2013, OTC brought in Jacob Anaya, formerly of Azul, who has since revamped the menu into a gastropub-meets-fine-dining mashup.
La Caleña: Romaine lettuce, turkey, prosciutto, manchego, tomato and red pepper.
This sandwich-and-coffee spot just east of I-95 on Eighth Street has the best parking in the city. There are, no joke, only two spots. This means double-parking, which in Miami always comes with the potential for a fistfight sure to make its way onto LiveLeak. But not here. People are perpetually gathered both outside at the ventanita for empanadas and the city's best café con leche and inside for Cuban sandwiches and prosciutto panini. If you're blocked in, just ask around and someone will happily move.
While Mary Brickell Village is awash in chain restaurants, Toscana Divino offers satisfying regional Italian fare that isn't cheap but isn't quite as expensive as the stately Il Gabbiano in nearby downtown. Homemade pastas include pici -- thick, hand-rolled noodles in a duck ragu -- and pappardelle tossed in a similar sausage and fennel sauce.
Image courtesy La Moon
We've yet to decide whether this beloved Colombian restaurant's move from its shoddy home on Eighth Street to a larger, better decorated space a stone's throw down the road is a good thing. The old location's blaring fluorescent lights were as important as its salchipapas in sobering people up after a long night of drinking.
Sadly, we recently learned that chef Philippe Ruiz has departed Lippi, the Mediterranean restaurant funded by Tunu Puri. The two-time James Beard Award nominee was longtime chef of the Biltmore Hotel's Palme d'Or prior to joining the Lippi team in 2013. His menu features high-priced proteins such as Dover sole and Kobe beef, yet it's the humble, strikingly fresh vegetable dishes that shine. We'll have to wait and see what comes next for Lippi after this blow.
Pork belly tonkotsu.
Photo by Zachary Fagenson
Miami's ramen obsession seemed to sputter almost as soon as it came to life. Though Momi didn't lead to a rash of new ramen joints in the city, its high-priced bowls filled with rich, glossy, almost sticky tonkotsu (broth) remain the best. Just remember -- sometimes Momi is cash only, and sometimes it will take your credit card. Sometimes there's only char siu pork and pork belly, and sometimes there's oxtail and pork innards. You never know what you'll find.
Oysters at The River.
Photo by Carla Torres
Like neighbor Tobacco Road, the River's days seem to be numbered after a Colombian investor purchased the property in 2012. Nevertheless, the smart Brickell office folk cover their faces and march through the ongoing construction to David Bracha's daily oyster offerings and whole fish entrées. The secret here is the bar menu, with small bites such as clams casino, steamed Chinese duck buns, and oyster po'boy sliders, all under ten bucks.
Edge is just too reasonably priced for a Brickell restaurant inside a Four Seasons Hotel. The place could mark up each steak -- from butcher's cut filet to the Delmonico -- 20 percent and would still be packed on a nightly basis. Chef Aaron Brooks' creations aren't limited by Creekstone Farms steaks, seared in an 1,800-degree infrared oven. Edge also excels at fish and vegetable preparations, makes one of Brickell's best burgers, and has regularly offered one of the few worthwhile Miami Spice menus.
Uni, glorious uni.
Photo by Zachary Fagenson
One evening at Naoe, chef Kevin Cory proudly held up a jewel-like orange-red sack of salmon roe. "Only available for two weeks every year when the salmon are spawning," he said. Other than that, Cory didn't boast about the fish that's flown in daily from Tokyo's Tsukiji Market. He speaks softly and wears a paper cap that seems a nod to sushi's past as a Japanese street food. Naoe's subtlety and precision are what make it stand out not only in Brickell but also all of Miami. It doesn't have to tell you it's the city's best restaurant. It knows it.
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