The Ten Best South Beach Restaurants

Yes, South Beach is filled with tourists wearing "I'm in Miami, Bitch" T-shirts. And drug-and-beer-beseeching bums lurk in alleyways. But that's only one side of the Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue fence.

The greener, South of Fifth neighborhood boasts South Pointe Park, with sweeping views of the Magic City, as well as one of the area's most iconic and longest-standing eateries, Joe's Stone Crab, which turned 102 this year.

Our choices make pasta from scratch and infuse it with rabbit, source masa from small Mexican farms to produce handcrafted tortillas, and fly in fish from Greece daily. That's just some of the labor put in by the top ten restaurants in South Beach.

Hmmm. Biscuits.
Hmmm. Biscuits.
Courtesy of Yardbird

10. Yardbird
Have you had the chicken liver toast at Yardbird? What about the fried Everglades frog's legs with sweet-and-sour jelly, bacon bits, and escabeche mayo? Or the beef sirloin tartare, served with fried cornbread, barbecue sauce sorbet, and frisée lettuce, which happens to be one of the best renditions of steak tartare in town? These might not be the greatest hits or most popular items at John Kunkel's ridiculously popular Yardbird, but they are the most underrated dishes at this eatery with Southern roots. So next time you're tempted to order his grandmother Lewellyn's fried chicken, chicken 'n' watermelon 'n' waffles, or Mama's chicken biscuits, stop being a chicken and try something different. 

Quality Meats
Quality Meats
billwisserphoto.com

9. Quality Meats
In a short time, newcomer and New York transplant Quality Meats has beefed up the offerings on Collins Avenue with a modern interpretation of a steak house. What, exactly, does that entail? House-cured slabs of bacon get a peanut butter and jalapeño jelly treatment, steak tartare is made tableside, braised veal shank comes atop a bed of black truffle pappardelle, and sides include a corn crème brûlée and cheese-slathered gnocchi. To bring it full circle, the owners (who started the Smith & Wollensky empire) have put just as much emphasis on desserts as they have on their touted cuts of meat. To see what we're talking about, simply order the sticky toffee pudding with fig ice cream.

Here, fishy, fishy.
Here, fishy, fishy.
Valeria Nekhim

8. Estiatorio Milos
As former New Times critic Lee Klein best put it, Estiatorio Milos has exquisite Mediterranean food — if you can afford it. Not for the common folk, Milos fits right in its SoFi digs and easily serves the freshest and most pristinely cooked seafood in town. Your experience here includes a walk to the icy-cool display in the back of the restaurant, where the morning's or midday's catch (fish is flown in multiple times a day and transported in a Mercedes-Benz refrigerated van because, well, it's Miami) is beautifully and vibrantly on view. But you never know what you're gonna get — other than glistening fish eyes (a sign the sea creature hasn't been dead long) and a high bill dropped at the end of the meal — because not even the kitchen staff knows what seafood is coming in till it arrives at the airport. Luckily, the restaurant offers a $49 tasting menu during the summer. In other words, the time is now to visit this place.

Where pigs go to die.
Where pigs go to die.
Courtesy of Pubbelly

7. Pubbelly
When chef Jose Mendin and partners Sergio Navarro and Andreas Schreiner opened Pubbelly in 2010, Sunset Harbour was a sleepy enclave. Fast-forward five years, and not only have the kings of swine taken over the neighborhood with Barceloneta and PB Sushi, but also the trio's first-born, Pubbelly, has been credited as being the progenitor of Sunset Harbour's movement toward becoming a hub for foodies. Yes, the food is heavy. Yes, there are lots and lots (and lots) of porcine dishes on the menu. But there's also — during season — Florida stone crab pasta with jalapeño, ginger, bok choy, and miso citrus butter. And there's a handful of dumplings packed with everything from duck and pumpkin to pastrami and sauerkraut. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it's all coming from a James Beard Award semifinalist and Food & Wine People's Best Chef nominee.

Let's taco about it.
Let's taco about it.
billwisserphoto.com

6. Taquiza
Taquiza is the little taco stand that could, and does. Eating House and Gastropod alum Steve Santana is grinding day and night — literally grinding house-nixtamalized corn and blue masa from small farms in Mexico to produce enough tortillas to meet not just the demand for beachgoers and Miami Beach residents but also for Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Michael Schwartz, who use the amazingly crisp yet fluffy taco shells at their restaurants. Go ahead, order a taco or seven (that's how many types are offered). From al pastor and carnitas to barbacoa and lengua (beef tongue), there's plenty to satisfy your authentic Mexican craving. Whatever you do, don't ask for a quesadilla, or whoever is at the cash register might crucify you. Do, however, ask for carne seca (made with meat from Creekstone Farms) and a choco taco (a dessert waffle cone taco with horchata ice cream dipped in chocolate and crowned with pistachios). You're welcome.



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