Top Five Under-the-Radar Miami Restaurants

Hog snapper at Fifi's Place.
Hog snapper at Fifi's Place.

The most apt adjective for many Miami restaurants is overrated. With a nonstop public-relations machine grinding out release after release of hyped-up claims about this place and that, and food bloggers eagerly rewording the PR praises in exchange for unspecified future favors, the public is fed more than enough reminders about just how great each new dining establishment really is (even when it isn't).

But not every restaurant has a firm passing out megaphones to the media, and sometimes places like these get sort of forgotten by the public. This is true of the quintet we have selected as under-the-radar eateries, although each one of these is on the minds of enough loyal locals that business is just fine. It's the rest of us who may have forgotten how good these places are.

Curried vegetables at Yuga.
Curried vegetables at Yuga.

5. Yuga Restaurant

The team of Chika Abe and son-in-law chef Johnson Teh have been cooking up a tasty menu mix of East and Southeast Asian cuisine at this Gables spot since 2006. The eclectic collection of small plates come from Thailand, Japan, China, Vietnam, and Korea, which could mean sushi/sashimi, vegetables in red curry sauce, sweet-and-sour-glazed lamb ribs, Korean barbecue rice, spicy beef glass noodles... Wherever the point of origin, the flavors register as fresh and assertive. Abe and Teh have also long impressed with Lan Pan-Asian at Dadeland Station -- which, really, is another stellar under-the-radar place to dine.

4. Cheen-Huaye

The name Cheen-Huaye (chen-why-ay) means "only here," which rings truer than ever now that the other Yucatecan restaurant Burritos Grill Café has closed. Maya, oh maya, how we love specialties such as cochinito pibil (pork marinated in recado rojo, cooked in a plantain leaf, and served with pickled onions); poc chuc (grilled pork in achiote sauce); and sopa de lima ("lime soup"), a spicy chicken soup with avocado and tortilla strips. Chicken tamales and mahi tacos are worthy as well. Cheen-Huaye is a labor of love for Mérida native Marco Velasquez and wife Magna Vieira, and the vibe comes through.

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