Miami is an ever-changing city. People who haven't been here in five years likely wouldn't recognize the changing landscape filled with new high-rises, added museums, and ever-gentrifying neighborhoods.
One of the biggest shape-shifters is our local restaurant scene. In any given month, it's typical for a dozen or so new establishments to pop up. And, as with everything on the planet, some restaurants meet their end. Some reach the end of a long life cycle, like Fox's Sherron Inn, which had a 70-year run. Others seem untimely, as in the case of Oolite, which barely hit its stride before the lights turned off.
Here, we revisit the ten restaurants that will be missed the most. From beloved multigenerational dives to places that seemed ahead of their time, we thank them for the memories, the food, and the drink.
10. Scotty's Landing
The plight of Scotty's Landing seems to embody the struggle between the classic Miami of old and what Miami is turning into.
For the past four years, Scotty's fans have been trying to save it, launching petitions, campaigns, and a Save Scotty's Landing Facebook page. The restaurant has been in a prolonged battle with the City of Miami, who have been trying to replace the locals' spot with a multi-use space that includes a new marina and restaurant. Scotty's owner Scott Wessel fought to keep the restaurant alive for years, but Scotty's eventually closed in October. Sort of. (Which is why Scotty's is at the number ten spot.)
The restaurant actually hasn't skipped a beat, operating as Grove Bay Grill. Think of Grove Bay, however, as the lifeless zombie corpse of your best friend. It sure looks like Joe, but he's really just an empty shell that wants to eat your brains. According to Coconut Grove Grapevine, this is a temporary situation to keep a restaurant in play until a brand new establishment is built. For now, however, Grove Bay Grill remains one of the few cheap places to grab a beer on the water — if you enjoy drinking over the grave of broken promises, that is.
Died: Although the restaurant is technically open, Scotty's died in October 2015
9. Khong River House
Khong River House opened three years ago to much fanfare. 50 Eggs mogul John Kunkel's foray into the cuisine of northern Thailand was a departure from Yardbird's Southern fare. Kunkel enlisted Piyarat Potha Arreeratn, AKA Chef Bee, as the head toque, and the restaurant was filled nightly with diners clamoring for crispy duck, Burmese noodle wraps, and house-made Chiang Rai sausage. The restaurant was even a semifinalist for a James Beard award in the Best New Restaurant category, loved by diners and critics alike. In her review, New Times' Emily Codik said of the eatery, "In a city where few restaurants come and stay, Khong is an astounding achievement."
The restaurant survived Chef Bee's abrupt departure (where lawsuits were traded and then settled) and announced the arrival of Top Chef Master's Patricia Yeo. It added brunch and revamped the cocktail program. Still, the restaurant closed this past May to pave the way for a new (still unnamed) 50 Eggs concept in the spot off Lincoln Road. At the time, the parent company vowed to move Khong River House to the MiMo District. We're still hoping those plans — and the restaurant's Burmese noodle wraps — actually make it to the mainland.
Born: December 2012
Died: May 2015
8. La Gloutonnerie
When La Gloutonnerie opened in SoFi in May 2012, the upscale French bistro won a devoted following for its decadent dishes like Kumamoto oysters, steak tartare, and lobster risotto. But it was the bistro's brunch that really got hearts aflutter. The weekly Sunday afternoon feast would have had Marie Antoinette commenting about excess with its tables upon tables of freshly baked pastries, cheese boards, omelette stations, raw bar, and hot entrées. The icing on the cake had to be the Dover sole prepared à la minute. Add two complimentary mimosas and you had nirvana at your table. Sadly, the party ended almost three years to the day after it opened with the owners (Mexico City's Cooley family) teaming up with a Miami restaurant group to work on a new concept. Hopefully that new concept does brunch.
Born: May 2012
Died: May 2013
7. De Rodriguez Cuba
The saddest thing about the closure of De Rodriguez Cuba is the loss of the last Douglas Rodriguez restaurant in Miami. The godfather of Nuevo Latino cuisine and multiple James Beard award nominee, this original member of South Florida's famed Mango Gang made a name for fusing traditional Latin ingredients with South, Central, and Northern American cooking. Rodriguez first wowed Miami at the original Yuca in Coral Gables in the '80s then opened OLA first on Biscayne Boulevard, then on Miami Beach. After several years, the chef decided to close De Rodriguez Cuba, saying it was time to look for a new location. Right now, the chef has been hosting culinary journeys to Cuba. Can Rodriguez be working on a new restaurant featuring recipes inspired by the paladares of Havana? Only the future can tell for sure.
Born: October 2010
Died: May 2015
Michael Shikany's foray into creative fare was a feast for the senses. Housed in a renovated warehouse, the gorgeous decor was a foil for the impeccable cuisine that used pretty much every trick in the culinary book. The result was multi-course meals with a heavy reliance on molecular gastronomy. A typical meal could incorporate foams, dehydrated foods, and wispy bits of cotton candy. The results, more often than not, worked, and the chef became known for dishes that looked like impressionist paintings with flavor profiles to match. Although the chef had mad skills, Miami may not have been ready for his degustation menus. After introducing brunch and some toned down dishes, the restaurant abruptly closed one evening.
Born: May 2014
Died: February 2015
5. Tongue & Cheek
Although the chef had an impressive résumé, Miami was really introduced to Jamie DeRosa through Tudor House, Geoffrey Zakarian's swanky South Beach restaurant. DeRosa then went on his own, opening Tongue & Cheek. The large 150-seat restaurant opened spring of 2013 and featured modern interpretations of comfort food in a warmly lit space. In a review, New Times critic Emily Codik said the branzino "gets a lift from an ethereal jamón serrano foam, a smoky touch that complements the accompanying Castelvetrano olives. The result is impressive." The restaurant also received a Best Bar Program award in the 2013 edition of Best of Miami and was featured on Tom Colicchio's televised search for the Best New Restaurant. The good news about this shuttering of Tongue & Cheek is that fans of DeRosa's culinary skills need only to walk about ten paces south to get a taste of his newly opened restaurant, Izzy's Fish & Oyster, an intimate seafood house.
Born: April 2013
Died: October 2015
Kris Wessel cooks the food Miami should be eating. South Florida sang the James Beard-nominated chef''s praises at his Biscayne Corridor Red Light Little River, where Wessel hustled to do everything from cook to serve tables. After a rent hike necessitated an abrupt closure, Wessel moved to South Beach to open Florida Cookery at the James Royal Palm Hotel. The chef then left to open Oolite at the former Cooper Avenue space. The restaurant, named after the literal foundation of Miami, was a behemoth of a restaurant, especially for a chef so used to making ultra-personal food. The dishes, however, were bright, concise, and delicious. A simple fish dish was perfection and his barbecue shrimp and oyster pie were craveable. Hell, Anthony Bourdain took Iggy Pop there! Sadly, Oolite proved to large and too expensive to survive. This is surely not the last we'll hear of Wessel, who has too deep a tie to Miami and too much passion to stay without a kitchen for long.
Born: June 2014
Died: July 2015
3. Hy Vong
The story of Hy Vong almost reads like a novel. Tung Nguyen, a young, pregnant refugee from Vietnam finds herself in Miami in the 1970s. She is befriended by her sponsor, Kathy Manning, who takes Tung and daughter, Lyn, in like family. The soft-spoken Tung is one heck of a cook, and the two women opened a restaurant a few years later. Fast-forward over three decades, and Hy Vong, the little restaurant in Calle Ocho, is one of the most beloved eateries in Miami, lauded for its authentic dishes, still made by Tung. Of course, all stories must have a villain, and this one comes in the form of a landlord. Just shy of a 36th year, Hy Vong announced its closing, then — like all good page-turners — got what looked like a last-minute reprieve. Alas, partner Kathy Manning decided to not take the deal and closed the restaurant that won several New Times' best of awards like "Best Vietnamese Restaurant" in 2008 and 2012 and "Best Restaurant in Little Havana" in 2015. Hy Vong would probably make number one on our list, but Manning vows to reopen as quickly as possible. For now, Manning is planning several pop-ups, like the December 18 dinner at Bookstore in the Grove from 6 to 10 p.m.
Died: October 2015
2. Magnum Lounge
Magnum Lounge was like one of those old-time great diva broads. Similar to an Elaine Stritch or an Etthel Merman, it was brash, loud, and a little over the hill, but revered and well loved. Part piano bar, part party place, this mecca for everyone from homesick Broadway babies to gay gentlemen to gaggles of giggling gals. After a few cocktails, the entire lovely brew of denizens joined in to sing along to a host of oldies from the holy trinity of Babs, Liza, and Merman herself. Avra Jain and Joe del Vecchio purchased the bar last year and, like most divas, Magnum got a face-lift. Even a freshening up proved not enough to keep the old gal alive and she finally closed in October. The Bar Lab boys have been tapped to take over the space.
Born: 2001, but was El Toro before that
Died: October 2015
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1. Fox's Sherron Inn
Fox's Sherron Inn has been a part of Miami for so long, your grandparents might very well have have canoodled in the corner at some point. In the lounge's 70-year history, not much ever changed. From year to year, people flocked there for its strong drinks (including a very good martini), fried chicken, and red naugahyde booths. Fox's was the kind of place where friends were made, lives were lived, and tears of joy were shed. Unlike Tobacco Road (the historic bar that closed in 2014), Fox's wasn't world famous — it was just a solid place for locals. When it finally closed, old timers and hipsters alike came out for one final toast before the lights went out forever.
Born: 1946 (wrap your head around that one)
Died: July 2015