Required Eating: 100 Miami Restaurants We Can't Live Without
From high-end destinations to the ventanillas on Calle Ocho, explore the diversity of Miami's dining scene.
Miami is unique in its ability to exist as a shimmering seaside destination, an international center of commerce, and a down-to-earth city where millions live and work — and its eclectic culinary scene reflects those multiple personalities.
With that in mind, the New Times editorial staff set out to create an indispensable guide for where to eat — a list that will come in handy whether you hanker for fancy fare at the best Miami restaurants, crave home cooking like Mom used to make, or find yourself in urgent need of topnotch croquetas to fuel your afternoon. From high-end palaces to holes-in-the-wall, from old standbys to fresh-façaded newcomers, these are our favorite places to break bread with family and friends, to celebrate special occasions, to steer pals from out of town when they quiz us about the consummate cubano or seek to splurge on stone crab.
Presented in alphabetical order, here are the 100 dining destinations that make South Florida a one-of-a-kind food paradise.
This list was written by Laine Doss, Zachary Fagenson, Clarissa Buch, Juliana Accioly, Chelsea Olson, and Nicole Danna.
Nationally recognized barista Camila Ramos' downtown coffee shop is a bright, tropical oasis nestled among the neighborhood's all-night clubs, where you can find an eye-opener to start your workday or keep the party going. The centerpiece of the space is the massive La Marzocco espresso machine, among the largest in the nation, from which Ramos and a skilled team of colleagues craft perfect cortados, espressos, and macchiatos. Pair one with a thoughtfully sourced lineup of eats, including some of the city's best egg sandwiches and a rotating specialty doughnut resulting from an ongoing collaboration between the shop and Wynwood's Salty Donut. Insider tip: Don't ever, ever miss All Day's seasonal drink. Ramos and beverage manager Valeria Vizoso spend months creating special coffee-based beverages such as Our Sweetheart No. 4 (cold brew, rosemary syrup, and lime juice); Coffeewein (white oak-aged cold brew, roselle tea, and salted cacao bitters); and Paloma (grapefruit, nitro coffee, and pink peppercorn syrup topped with tonic water and dried pineapple).
At Alter, chef/owner Bradley Kilgore serves some of Miami's most exciting food. Come for the five- or seven-course creative tasting menus, featuring seasonal dishes and signature creations such as soft egg with sea scallop espuma and truffle pearls with Siberian caviar. Here, the 2016 Food & Wine Magazine best new chef has given Wynwood a welcoming restaurant that doesn't trade refinement for the neighborhood's cool factor. Alter defies all expectations in light of its surroundings: The restaurant has a spare industrial feel, and everything from reggae to rock blares over the sound system, but that says little about the quality of the dishes, such as smoked duck served with spring berry, kaffir lime yogurt, purple kale, and Marcona almonds. Insider tip: Take your visit to up a notch by booking the chef counter experience, a seven- or nine-course meal that places you in the middle of Alter's action. Brace yourself for a long and indulgent night.
The building that houses the Anderson has been a bar far longer than most of us have been alive. Now restaurateur Ken Lyon has given the space new life with a lush outdoor garden, a tiki bar, and the 21-seat taco joint El Toro Taco. Between the indoor lounge, the outdoor patio, and the eatery designed to look like a food truck, the Anderson seems more like its own little world than simply a bar and kitchen. Insider tip: Take a look at the wonderful black-and-white photos of people and places in Mexico — all taken by Ken Lyon on his various trips to the country.
Anthony's Runway 84, by the owner of the Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza chain, is airport-themed, but the restaurant feels more as if Epcot opened a restaurant based on the quaint Brooklyn of yesteryear. There's a dining room, but if you really want your evening's entertainment, eat dinner in the lounge. Faux cockpit windows have you coming in for a landing as you peruse the menu filled with red-sauce Italian fare. Women with teased hair wearing leopard-print dresses and large diamonds on their red lacquered fingers drink pink martinis while Sinatra croons in the background. Your bartender takes your drink order and then sends a server for your food order (for some reason, you'll also get separate checks for food and drinks, but just go with it). Before dinner, a basket of warm, fresh bread arrives with a dish of olive oil festooned with garlic and grated Parmesan cheese. If you're on a date, agree to both have garlic breath and scarf that bread down — it's worth it. Meatballs arrive with a dollop of ricotta, Sicilian peppers are stuffed with more cheese and garlic, and clams oreganata, baked with breadcrumbs in a garlic and lemon sauce, are authentically Sheepshead Bay. The civolata sausage is presented with broccoli di rabe and roasted peppers. The sausage is spicy, but the peppers are sweet, and the combination is classic. Insider tip: Thursday evenings beginning at 5:30, the lounge hosts Meatballs & Martinis, offering $6 martinis and complimentary meatballs, rice balls, turkey meatballs, and sausage-and-pepper-stuffed pastries.
It's not necessarily the hot dogs themselves that are better at Arbetter's. Rather, these all-beef or pork-and-beef franks are ideal blank canvases for the three garnish combinations that solidified Arbetter's reputation when this family-run place opened more than a half-century ago. The basic onion/relish dog is nicely tangy, and the sauerkraut/mustard dog, featuring beautifully buttery, cooked-all-day-tender kraut, is even better. Along with the rich and flavorful but not overly hot all-meat chili topping from an old Arbetter family recipe, a garnish of diced raw onion adds that reassuring subliminal message that diners are consuming a healthful greenish vegetable that certainly counteracts the menu's cholesterol count — so, hey, have another. And if you can't make it out to the Bird Road mainstay, order delivery through Uber Eats, DoorDash, or Postmates. Insider tip: Though Arbetter's favorites have been passed from generation to generation, don't be afraid to try some of the new things Dave, who took over his father's place in 2008, added to the menu. Among them are the New York dog ($3.99), with a tangy red onion sauce atop a Sabrett with sauerkraut and mustard, as well as a Miami dog ($3.99), with mustard, onion, cheese, tomato, and potato sticks.
Chef Michael Beltran's Ariete adds an air of refinement to Coconut Grove not seen since the days when industrialist James Deering caroused its shores. Ariete serves dishes such as foie gras with smoked plantains, but there's something more amid the elegance offered by Beltran, who has trained under chefs Norman Van Aken and Michael Schwartz. The Little Havana native twists bits of Cuba and France into every dish, just the way his grandparents taught him. A meal ends with tres leches, and you won't stop thinking about the sweet treat until the next time you visit Ariete. Insider tip: The acclaimed success of Ariete prompted Beltran to open a sister concept — Leña by Ariete — at the sprawling South Beach food hall Time Out Market Miami. Leña serves many Ariete favorites, including the notably unique flan dessert made with candy cap mushroom, sambuca crema, and coffee crumble.
In 2017, Katrina Iglesias, Adam Hughes, and chef and Barcelona native Deme Lomas opened Arson two doors down from their first venture, Niu Kitchen. The centerpiece of Arson is the Josper, a charcoal-burning grill/oven hybrid that influences Lomas' gastronomy. Hints of Asia and South America dot the one-page menu, which includes about 20 dishes. Mainstays include charbroiled oyster with ponzu and rice vinegar mayo; Argentine shrimp with smoked paprika, tequila, and quebracho charcoal; and Duck 2 Ways, which comes charbroiled and smoked with apple textures and honey-mustard bread. Insider tip: In addition to trying the Duck 2 Ways, make it a point to sample the Kurobuta pork belly, which includes a generous portion of smoked caviar, and the Argentinian shrimp, with smoked paprika and a hint of tequila.
At Awash, owners Eka and Fouad Wassel want to take you home, or to an authentic Ethiopian-style home kitchen called a gojo bait. Try the doro wot, a rich chicken dish that shares a deep flavor similar to Mexico's mole. The Awash River, for which this restaurant and many other Ethiopian eateries across the nation are named, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The valley surrounding it was where researchers in 1974 found 52 fossilized bone fragments of the famed early hominid Lucy. Carbon dating put the partial skeleton's age at more than 3 million years. It's a fact almost every Ethiopian knows. But it's also one that illustrates the history of this part of the world and that much of human culture was born here. Too many people imagine only famine and war when they think of Ethiopia, but the Wassels are changing that misconception one piece of the stretchy, slightly sour bread injera at a time. Insider tip: You might be tempted to visit only at night, but be sure to pop in during the daylight hours for a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, which is repeated up to three times a day in the Horn of Africa. Green beans are pan-roasted, hand-ground, and then slowly brewed over hot coals. The point is to slow you to a stop in order to connect with the coffee and those with whom you're sharing it. You'll be back for another in no time.
When you're walking Calle Ocho in the sweltering sun, nothing cools off an afternoon like a frosty treat. Pop into Azucar Ice Cream Company, where you'll find flavors that could only be dreamed up in Miami. Serving inventive varieties ranging from mamey and passionfruit to plátanos maduros (sweet plantain) and Abuela Maria (vanilla ice cream with ripe guava, chunks of cream cheese, and crushed Maria cookies), Azucar is like a rich, creamy cupful of the 305. Insider tip: Owned by local Cuban-American Suzy Batlle, Azucar was founded after the 2008 financial crisis, when Batlle's career in banking took a turn. She turned a less than sweet situation into making ice cream, a family tradition passed down from her grandmother in Cuba. Azucar has been celebrating success on Calle Ocho since its inception in July 2011 and also opened a location in Dallas.
The namesake of Puerto Rican pastry chef Antonio Bachour is an oasis of the Instagram-worthy creations that have made him a national sensation. Glass display cases offer seductive rows of brightly colored cakes, macarons, croissants, and bonbons to satisfy even the most demanding sweet tooth. This 5,000-square-foot spot, tucked away in a serene corner of Salzedo Street, offers not only melt-in-your-mouth pastries and desserts, but also workshops for culinary professionals and a daylong à la carte menu of salads, egg-based dishes, tarts, sandwiches, and hearty entrées such as churrasco and grilled salmon. Loved by locals and visitors alike, Bachour Bakery has become a hub for the community. Insider tip: Coral Gables is the only Bachour location where you can savor the chef's signature dishes, such as Niçoise salad and guava pastelito pancakes, but his intricate pastries and desserts are also available at his eponymous stalls at the local foods halls the Citadel in Little Haiti and Time Out Market in Miami Beach.
This tapas and wine bar, located in Miami's MiMo District, sits alongside a no-tell motel. The location makes Bar Meli 69 seem all the more like a hidden gem, a personal find, one of those so-called secret places people whisper about to their friends, as in "I just found this great little joint." Inside, the restaurant feels like one of those wonderful little bistros or tavernas seen in movies. You really can't pinpoint the exact country or town; you just know it's charming. The bar is a welcoming place for commiserating with a comrade over a tough workday. The place is also friendly enough if you're on your own. Wines are predominantly from the Mediterranean, but there are also some interesting selections from Sardinia and Israel. The tapas are all delicious, but the showstopper is the flaming saganaki; the Greek cheese dish is doused with brandy and set aflame. Proteins include plenty of lamb, octopus, and a chicken breast that's nicely charred on the outside and juicy on the inside. Vegetarians have many options, such as piquillo peppers stuffed with manchego cheese, pine nuts, and almonds. A friendly, casual vibe, along with good food and drinks at reasonable prices, makes BarMeli 69 a great neighborhood joint. Insider tip: Owner Liza Meli was a flamenco dancer for years, so don't be surprised if she leads the entire bistro in a rousing dance — sometimes with breaking plates — as the night progresses.
The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel is the result of the flirtatious genius of James Beard Award-winning restaurateur, cookbook author, and Made in Spain TV star José Andrés. The Bazaar's menu offers adventurous takes on the flavors of the world: Spain, Singapore, and Japan, as well as Miami's Latin American connection. The restaurant includes exciting plates such as Japanese tacos — perfectly grilled eel, shiso, and wasabi wrapped in slivered cucumber topped with flakes of crisp pork chicharrones. Other offerings, such as bao con lechón and papas a la huancaína, show a fusion of Miami influences. More traditional Spanish tapas, including hams, cheeses, and croquetas, are also available. A refreshing liquid nitrogen caipirinha can be prepared tableside, proving the restaurant also successfully balances playful theatrics with delightful fare. Insider tip: Grab a seat at the restaurant's bar, Bar Centro, for a tantalizing cocktail with a side of live music. Wednesdays beginning at 9 p.m., an Unplugged night presents a rotating roster of local bands, along with Padron cigars from Little Havana, a roaming cart with liquid nitrogen caipirinhas, and complimentary tapas.
Is it a dive bar or a club? Upon arriving at Blackbird Ordinary in search of a serious cocktail, you might think you've come to the wrong place. But the keen-eyed customer will spot the live herbs on the tables and the bartenders immersed in their craft. Specialty drinks are named for birds (duh), and, like the winged creatures, each cocktail is a beautiful and rare thing to behold. Whatever you choose, your drink will be assiduously prepared with house-made syrups and fresh fruits and herbs, allowing its combined flavors to take flight.
Danny Serfer's Blue Collar takes its cues from the classic American diner. The tiny restaurant in the MiMo District offers daily specials and chef-elevated comfort food. Start with pork and beans with a fried egg and ciabatta bread, or a gutsy New Orleans-style dish of shrimp and grits with bacon and Worcestershire-based barbecue sauce. Another winning appetizer is tostones topped with vaca frita — pulled frizzles of fried flank steak with orange mojo. A cheeseburger, cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, a thermos of Panther Coffee, and desserts such as key lime pie make Blue Collar as American as, well, key lime pie. Insider tip: Though most of the veg chalkboard is made decadent with cream and butter, many of the items can be customized for vegan guests.
What began as an Indian mom-and-pop 30-seater has grown into a popular, ornate dining room with a capacity for 200 guests. Sweet or spicy, the fresh, light Indian cuisine at Bombay Darbar is a delight. Diners crunch on crisp papadum wafers while watching Bollywood movies on a large screen and perusing the menu. It's lengthy, but at its heart are the tikkas, tandooris, and vindaloos that fans of Indian food crave. Bright vegetable samosas are a good start, as are some of the tandoor-baked breads — try the soft, fluffy onion-flecked kulcha naan. Chicken tandoori is tasty, and a rich and buttery chicken makhani is even tastier. Lamb rogan josh, yellow lentil dal, biryani rice dishes — they're all good. The short wine list doesn't inspire with any out-of-the-ordinary choices, but the markup is double or less. Cold Kingfisher beer? Yes. Prices might seem steep for this particular ethnic food, but they are in line with competing Indian joints around town. Perhaps more pertinent, dinner will cost less at Bombay Darbar than at restaurants serving different types of cuisine of equal caliber. You really can't do better for Indian food around here. Insider tip: Check out lunch specials and a weekday happy hour offering a selection of $5 appetizers and $6 cocktails, as well as beer and wine deals. Street parking is the cheapest option, but if you can't score a spot, there are plenty of garage spaces in the lush, tree-lined area.
The Bon Gout BBQ crew arrives shortly after the crack of dawn to begin preparing brisket, ribs, chicken, and a bounty of Caribbean and soul-food sides such as rice and peas, cornbread, and mac and cheese. Here the secret is the epis, which to the people of Haiti is what sofrito is to the Spanish-speaking world. Onions, scallions, bell peppers, garlic, and parsley are pulverized into a coarse paste that's applied liberally to almost everything. Like so many iconic dishes and base ingredients, recipes vary. Some add basil, while others prefer Scotch bonnet peppers and celery. No one from Bon Gout will, as expected, reveal their recipe, yet after several hours in the smoker, the epis dehydrates, forming a smoky, punchy crust with a sharpness that slyly balances out the meat's fat. Of course, don't miss the griot, the result of fat-rippled knobs of pork shoulder plunged into a deep fryer and emerging with a burnished crust and a juicy interior. If you prefer, the meat can be lovingly tucked into a tortilla and crowned with the spicy fermented cabbage known as pikliz. The Haitian condiment has taken the world by storm, and for good reason: Its tart, spicy flavor provides the perfect complement to Bon Gout's unctuous pork bits. Insider tip: For truly fearless eaters, Bon Gout offers a special, extra-spicy pikliz that combines the addictive fermented condiment's funk with the fiery heat of what one would expect in Southeast Asia or the blistering pepper sauces of Trinidad.
Bourbon Steak is a contemporary American steakhouse. That means it doesn't serve the style of cuisine traditionally associated with the uppermost echelon of establishments. However, it's one of South Florida's finest, offering a plethora of luxe comestibles inside the swank JW Marriott Turnberry Isle Resort & Spa. Farm-fresh sides include truffle mac 'n' cheese, roasted mushrooms, and crisp Brussels sprouts. Appetizers include two kinds of tartare and a variety of shellfish. All-natural, organic, and hormone-free selections of beef are tempered in herb-infused butter and then grilled over wood, including the legendary, exquisitely marbled Japanese A5 Kobe (well worth the market price). The seafood, such as ahi tuna and Scottish salmon, is equally inspiring. Desserts are high-quality too. Bourbon Steak's Wine Spectator Award-winning cellar offers more than 850 selections. Insider tip: Order the drool-worthy Turnberry burger. The off-menu option, which must be requested, can be made with beef, turkey, or falafel.
The Spanish gastrobar Bulla (pronounced boo-yah) is younger, cooler, and better than ever. At the freestanding marble bar under the mahogany marquee, it's always time for a drink. Cocktails are delicious and fussy, infused with cardamom and currant syrup, lemongrass, and cucumber purée. Venture to the dining room, where chalkboards listing Spanish dishes swaddle blond-wood walls, to sample the small-plates cuisine. Doused in fried-tomato paste, albondigas — veal and pork meatballs — swim in milky stracciatella. Croquetas de jamón— golden bits of pinguid beauty — gleam beneath a thin fig jam glaze. Insider tip: Saturday and Sunday, Bulla offers a $28 three-course brunch. Try the decadent huevos Bulla — house-made potato chips topped with a jumbo organic egg, potato foam, thin slices of Serrano ham, and a prodigious drizzle of truffle oil.
Byblos, the Eastern Mediterranean eatery at the Royal Palm South Beach, is a good time. The focus is on interpreting dishes from Levantine culture, found mostly in Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, and parts of southern Turkey. The original Byblos is in Toronto, and as is often the case with Miami outposts, this outpost boasts a more extensive seafood selection than its northern sibling. It's also equipped with a wood-burning oven, used to bake pide (Turkish flatbread) and barbari bread (Persian flatbread) each morning. Pillowy and perfectly golden, the barbari bread is dusted with the kitchen's personal za'atar spice mixture. Order it with a plate of roasted red beets and organic labneh — a thick, tangy yogurt-like dip that's cultured in-house. Insider tip: Visit Friday night, when Byblos hosts live music and entertainment beginning at 9 p.m. in its sprawling back-room lounge.
Between Cuban cantinero Julio Cabrera's daiquiris and chef Michelle Bernstein's fare, there's something uniquely Miami about Cafe la Trova. But as with all things Magic City, this new eatery isn't fueled solely by good food and drinks: At any given time of the day, expect guayabera-clad musicians or jazz trumpet players to fill the air with their vibrant tunes, all set against a stage backdropped with the weathered façade of an Old Havana building. Friday and Saturday, the restaurant opens its backroom, the 305 Bar — a flamingo-pink ode to the neon, disco, and debauchery that made Miami Beach one of the most notorious destinations in the '80s. Insider tip: Bernstein's comfort food is all-around tempting. She works to meet the foodie fantasies of her guests, whether they're in search of elaborate dishes or a traditional dessert of tres leches. When in doubt, order a round of specialty paella, jamón Serrano, and spinach and feta croquetas, or the chef's rendition of arroz con pollo — the classic one-pot Cuban-style dish she puts together with bomba rice and chicken marinated in saffron and beer.
Steve Martorano is inarguably Broward County's most colorful restaurateur. For more than two decades, Cafe Martorano has been turning out Philadelphia-style Italian comfort food with a side of entertainment. Though its old-school menu of Italian classics — such as chicken cacciatore and pappardelle with sausage — are delicious, regulars flock to the restaurant for the people behind the food. Insider tip: No matter the time of day or night, the restaurant is packed to the rafters with a lively mix of locals, snowbirds, and celebrities who come for the cook's meatball salad and stay for Martorano's DJ skills.
Miami isn't exactly brimming with great Thai restaurants, which is partly why Cake Thai Kitchen is such a novelty. At the front of the tiny eatery, crammed into a derelict Biscayne Boulevard strip mall, stands a buffet station that offers lemongrass-rubbed roasted chicken alongside roasted rice studded with crisp shallots and fried pork. Sometimes it's Penang curry or fried chicken. Otherwise, the menu consists mainly of curries, noodle dishes, salads, and fried rice. There's plenty to choose from. For dessert, try the Thai doughnuts or custard sticky rice. Insider tip: A true hole-in-the-wall, Cake Thai makes up for what it lacks in real estate and atmosphere with its authentic, flavor-packed Thai food. Parking is known to be tricky, but there's a small lot in the back that usually has spots. Cake doesn't serve alcohol, but you can pop across the street to CVS, buy a six-pack, and bring it over.
This iconic North Miami seafood spot debuted in the mid-'90s but closed after Hurricane Irma. Luckily, La Camaronera's David Garcia came to the rescue with a last-minute purchase, allowing Captain Jim's to stay afloat. After a $300,000 overhaul, loyal patrons agree the latest iteration holds true to the original, and many were relieved to see the menu — and overall ambiance — was mostly unchanged. Today a new kitchen crew has re-created the menu's classics just as the regulars remember them. They can still order dozens of stone crab claws (when in season) and a beautiful take on conch salad with meaty hunks of mollusk tossed in a spicy tomato marinade and cubed red and green pepper. Newer menu additions include grilled, blackened, or fried whole fresh yellowtail snapper or hogfish. Insider tip: Though the conch fritters, corvina Français, and key lime pie remain customer favorites, try the original crab salad, or go all out with the Captain's Combo — the catch of the day, often conch and shrimp, served with a choice of side.
Angelo and Denise Elia have run Casa D'Angelo for 21 years, and it's often the first restaurant locals think of for birthdays or anniversaries, entertaining out-of-town guests, and Friday-night dates. The classic Tuscan menu includes gamberoni, giant prawns with cannellini beans, sage, and cherry tomatoes; zucchini and squid dusted with semolina and lightly fried; wood-roasted free-range chicken; bistecca alla Fiorentina; and rigatoni topped with homemade sausage and winter mushrooms. The long list of specials changes nightly, and a wonderful menu of more than 1,500 Italian wines chosen to represent regions makes dining here second only to a trip to Tuscany. Insider tip: Veal chops are one of this restaurant's most indulgent dishes. A chef's favorite, the 16-ounce bone-in chops are served Milanese — grilled and topped with wild mushrooms, roasted garlic, rosemary, and Angelo's signature red wine reduction.
A mural depicting a desert beneath a floating pair of eyes is the only sign beckoning passersby into this Uzbek-style hideaway, accessible only from one side of NE 163rd Street. Chayhana Oasis offers fare not only from Uzbekistan but also the entire central Eurasian region, meaning you can eat your way around a few countries. The menu offers quirky descriptions of lesser-known dishes to keep the proceedings simple and entertaining. Begin with the doma, tender stuffed Turkish-style grape leaves; continue with cheburek, described as a deep-fried crepe that's folded and stuffed with moist and flavorful minced lamb and onion; and finish with a kovurma lagman, a dish of fried house-made egg noodles flecked with chewy bits of beef and topped with an impossibly thin egg crepe. For dessert, try the gnezdo, fresh meringue topped with diced walnuts. In standard European fashion, wash it all down with a few shots of top-shelf vodka. Luckily, there's no shortage of the fresh, chewy Uzbek-style bread to soak it all up. Insider tip: Go on a Friday or Saturday, when a resident belly dancer performs her routine from opening till closing time.
In the past year, more than a dozen food halls have opened across South Florida, but only one has a lineup as stellar as the Citadel's. The mixed-use complex, which also offers shopping, entertainment, and office space, includes concepts from a handful of Miami's most popular chefs and restaurants, including Steve Santana's Taquiza, Richard Hales' Sakaya Kitchen, and Antonio Bachour's Bachour. The owners of Stanzione 87 are behind a wood-fired Neapolitan pizza spot — Ash! Pizza Parlor — while the Wynwood restaurant Palmar serves its take on Chinese cuisine. That means you can get the best of Miami's local food without hopping from neighborhood to neighborhood. Plus, the Citadel also boasts a 5,000-square-foot rooftop bar and lounge that's open Wednesday through Saturday. Insider tip: If you have to narrow down the offerings, visit Palmar and Ash! Pizza Parlor; then grab a finishing sweet from Bachour. Don't forget a cocktail on the roof, though.
The moment you step into this North Miami Beach hideaway, your senses are overcome by the overwhelming perfume of rendered beef fat and chili oil. This Sichuan-style restaurant is the first U.S. project of Chongqing native and chef Yang Xian Guang. Beef fat is the central ingredient of Yang's hot pot — the rich, savory aroma is the yardstick by which most Chinese folks judge hot pot. The recipes include three or more kinds of chilies, a mountain of Sichuan peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, garlic, ginger, star anise, fermented black beans, and a litany of secrets Yang refuses to share. A simple chicken broth, made by simmering carcasses with ginger and garlic for three hours, is poured on top just before the dish is sent out to the dining room. So whether you opt for the Chinese yam, the fatty beef, the pork blood, or just a tousle of vegetables, you're guaranteed an experience like no other. Insider tip: Bring a big group so you can order as many of the accouterments as possible. Also be sure to pace yourself: Among the most joyous moments of hot pot is the very end, when the broth and spices have reduced, along with everything that's been cooked in them, into a rich, flavorful brew that makes the last few bites truly special.
Wynwood's Dasher & Crank has changed Miami's ice-cream scene. The light-pink shop, marked by a glowing neon sign in the shape of an ice-cream cone, starts with a core lineup of ice creams, including raspberry wasabi sorbet and mint with activated charcoal ($5 for one scoop, $7.50 for a double, and $10 for a triple or a pint). The real fun, however, lies in the shop's collaborations with some of Miami's best restaurants, breweries, and purveyors. Owner Daniel Levine joins forces with local spots such as Miami Smokers, Zak the Baker, El Bagel, and Per'La coffee to make innovative flavors you can't find anywhere else. Past favorites have included Avocado Toast, featuring lightly toasted Zak the Baker sourdough and an avocado swirl, and Maple Bacon, made with cured meat from Miami Smokers. Guests can also swing by for the shop's classics, such as Tahitian vanilla bean; the Chocolate Crank, chocolate ice cream with a house-made fudge ripple and English toffee; and Kush Chicken n Waffles, which mixes buttermilk ice cream with crisp chicken skin and maple-soaked waffles from the nearby restaurant Kush. Insider tip: The shop gets supercreative on holidays; special flavors have included team-inspired creams for Super Bowl Sunday and a CBD-infused variety for National CBD Day.
There are many reasons you should visit Eating House on a weekend. Created by Chopped champion Giorgio Rapicavoli, the popular Coral Gables restaurant makes brunch fun with a munchies-themed menu that includes tater tots drizzled with Coca-Cola ketchup, candied applewood-smoked bacon with brown sugar and sea salt, and pumpkin-spice granola. But the star is Rapicavoli's Cap'n Crunch pancakes. Covered in vanilla butter, condensed-milk syrup, and candied cereal, each doughy bite includes a loud crunch and a sweet finish. Wash it down with a guava mimosa, made with prosecco and pink guava juice, or a yuzu cocktail containing Florida grapefruit juice and vermouth. Insider tip: Eating House was originally a pop-up and has been winning numerous awards and rising in popularity since Rapicavoli opened the brick-and-mortar space. Every year, the restaurant offers a special multicourse 420 menu on April 20 for $42 per person. The unofficial "holiday" menu has garnered a cult following through unique dishes that anyone with a major case of the munchies would crave.
Quality food that looks and tastes great will fit most folks' bill, even more so if it's fairly priced. Understanding this concept is what gives Edge Steak & Bar the edge over competitors in the steakhouse and hotel restaurant games. The seafood and Creekstone Farms steaks are offered in small, medium, and large cuts, with prices to match, including a six-ounce grass-fed Angus Pure filet mignon and a New York strip, each assertively seared on an 1,800-degree infrared grill. Seafoods are likewise portioned to please. A napoleon layered with dark chocolate ganache and gianduja crunch is one of several heavenly and creative desserts. Insider tip: Edge offers $1 oysters on the happy hour menu, but what's more impressive is the custom Edge Tasting Experience. It's a five-course menu by executive chef Aaron Brooks and his culinary team. Every Tuesday, they create a new tasting menu for the week that includes restaurant favorites and off-the-menu items for $65 per person. A beverage pairing costs an additional $35 per person.
Sure, El Mago de las Fritas serves a variety of diner-like fare from its old-school cafeteria-esque dining room complete with vinyl booths and Formica countertops. But you're not here for just any dish. You're here for that essential Miami meal. There's no denying that you go to El Mago for the Cuban hamburgers, AKA fritas. There aren't too many places that have a history steeped in this glorious amalgamation of a burger. From the orangy beef chorizo patties to the almost-too-soft Cuban rolls and the topping of handmade potato sticks, El Mago's frita is one of the best iterations in the Magic City. Though you can order a basic frita, consider a double with cheese if you're superhungry, or try a topping of fried egg. Insider tip: Most of the staff here doesn't speak English, so if you aren't comfortable ordering in Spanish, be prepared to point to your menu order. If it's your first time, don't miss the original frita.
The name translates to "the Juice Palace." And this place is exactly that — one of the best spots for fresh, natural juices. But it is also so much more. El Palacio de los Jugos is an open-air restaurant with three main areas: a juice bar, a sandwich counter, and a large hot-food section that offers kick-ass Cuban food as individual meals or by the pound. Prices tend to be low, even for seafood dishes such as lobster. By far the most popular dish here is lechón asado, served with congri and yuca or maduros. Pescado de aguja, with yellow rice, is also extremely popular, as is pollo asado, with yellow rice and boniato (fried sweet potato). There are some trade-offs depending upon your perspective: El Palacio is always jam-packed, and it's usually packed with everyone from young couples to entire families toting screaming toddlers. But the food is fantastic, and the prices can't be beat. Insider tip: This is, in fact, the best place in Miami to work remotely. Most locations offer free Wi-Fi, and you can book breakfast, lunch, or early-dinner meetings here and stay strung out on Cuban coffee and chicharrones between them all.
When Brad Kilgore opened Alter in Wynwood in 2015, Miami was smitten with the dishes that came from its open kitchen. Kilgore earned several James Beard Award nominations, and the restaurant continues to impress with an array of thoughtful and artistic dishes. At Ember, the chef returns to his Kansas City roots with a menu that's both accessible and intricate. Take, for example, the fried chicken he created with the restaurant's chef de cuisine, Nick Graves. It's brined for 24 hours and then cold-smoked, double-battered, and fried before being plated with either Kilgore's BKQ barbecue sauce or caviar butter. The same care can be seen in everything from the fire-roasted lasagna — which resembles a cheesy, savory mille-feuille — to the Yukon mashed potatoes oozing with butter. Insider tip: For dessert, order the crème brûlée "tableside." A cart is wheeled to your table, and the crème brûlée is branded with a hot iron, sometimes by Kilgore himself.
The family-owned Exquisito has a rich history in Little Havana. What began as a small, 16-seat cafeteria next to the Tower Theater is now a 75-seater serving lovingly prepared Cuban food. Owner Heliodoro Coro bought the space in 1974 and runs it with his nephew Juan, who can sometimes be found in the restaurant's kitchen. Menu items are affordable and include a variety of meat, pork, poultry, and seafood dishes, along with a long list of sandwiches, sides (try the tamal), and daily specials. With more than 30 years at the same location, two expansions, and a loyal fan base, Exquisito is doing something right. Insider tip: Those daily specials are worth checking out. They range from hearty soups to oxtail stew and fabada asturiana (a Spanish bean stew). Before you settle on a plate from the regular menu, always inquire about one-time offerings.
Finka Table & Tap co-owners and siblings Eileen and Jonathan Andrade come from Miami dining royalty. Their grandparents started Islas Canarias, the shrine of Cuban comfort food revered for its croquetas. Their parents picked up the flag. It's on their sage advice that Eileen and Jonathan opened Finka — a funky spelling for the Spanish word for "farm" — located way out in the western suburbs of Miami-Dade and offering a comforting selection of Peruvian-Korean-Cuban gastropub fare. Though gastropubs are a dime a dozen on the east side of the county, Finka has a monopoly out west, and crowds line up nightly for cast-iron cazuelas of pulled lamb and soft-cooked corn masa, Cuban bibimbap, and those famous croquetas the Andrades brought over from Islas Canarias. Insider tip: If this is your first time, don't leave without an order of the Islas Canarias croquetas. They're available in ham, chicken, or fish, so try one or all. You'll understand why after the first bite.
For nearly a decade, this restaurant located a block north of Las Olas Boulevard has been taking names for those waiting to nab a table for it's popular weekend brunch. Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Foxy Brown offers an impressive breakfast spread, including creations such as banana bread grilled cheese, veggie cake eggs Benedict, and chicken and waffle sliders. Restaurateur Eliot Wolfe, along with his company that helms Coconuts, is behind this restaurant specializing in inventive comfort foods. From Boston cream pie and carrot cake to a half-dozen of your favorite Halloween candies, the selection will make you feel like a kid in a candy shop. No, that's not dessert (those are good here too); instead, it's just a few of the toppings for Foxy Brown's house pancakes, which change frequently enough to keep even the most demanding bruncher delighted. Then drown it all with bottomless mimosas and bloody marys. Insider tip: Don't miss the boozy milkshakes made with Mu cream liqueur — a flavorless wine made from Florida citrus fruit. If all of that sounds too extra, the cereal milk satisfies sans liquor and pairs perfectly with a few of the fresh house doughnuts.
Overlooking the Miami River, this indoor/outdoor restaurant serves fresh fish dishes and family hospitality courtesy of father-son team Esteban Jr. and Luis Garcia. Choose blackboard specials or house favorites such as fried grouper fingers or blackened or breaded preparations of your favorite fish. The famous fish dip or a fried shrimp sandwich make tasty starters. You can also order your meal with a side of fries, coleslaw, grilled veggies, mashed potatoes, yellow rice, white rice, or salad. Insider tip: Garcia's has been a Miami institution for more than 50 years. Those in-the-know flock here for the freshest catches reeled in daily and available for purchase on the menu or by the pound at the fish market next door. Stay and enjoy the laid-back views of the Miami River; Garcia's was featured on an episode of The Layover, where Anthony Bourdain gave his stamp of approval.
Ghee is what Indians call clarified butter, and across the subcontinent, it is far more than an ingredient. Candles are fueled by it, and when the dead are taken to the banks of the Ganges River in the ancient, holy city of Varanasi, relatives coat the shrouds with ghee before setting the corpses ablaze. At this Western Indian spot in Dadeland, chef Niven Patel and his crew have opened Miami's eyes to a cuisine that consists of so much more than tandoori chicken and lamb rogan josh. Here you'll find the simple street snack of puffed rice called bhel, juiced up with sweet Florida avocado and meaty hunks of raw tuna. And though the restaurant offers chicken tikka masala for patrons who insist on the classic, be sure not to miss the sizable vegetable section, much of which is culled from Patel's own backyard garden. Insider tip: Instead of an à la carte lunch menu, Ghee serves a tiffin meal of rotating daily offerings that change according to the harvest from Patel's farm. Four stacked aluminum boxes are filled with individual portions of bread, rice, a vegetable, and a vegetarian ($16) or meat ($18) entrée.
Fort Lauderdale Beach isn't Corfu by any stretch of the imagination, but this beach-adjacent Greek restaurant does a good job of making hungry patrons feel as if they've crossed a temporary bridge to all things Mediterranean. Brothers and owners Sam and George Kantzavelos offer the kind of dishes any tourist, local, or Greek native can appreciate in a casual setting that channels New Jersey diner fare at its finest. As a result, Greek Islands Taverna remains a longtime favorite among the beachgoing crowd thanks to a wide-ranging menu of classic Greek dishes for reasonable prices. Go for classics such as roast leg of lamb, flaming saganaki, chicken shish kebab, and killer chicken lemon soup. Insider tip: There restaurant offers plenty of Greek favorites, but try something that marries the best of American tastes with the country's stellar seasoning: baby-back ribs. They're grilled to perfection and flavored with lemon and oregano for a surprisingly perfect twist.
Hard work is also the mantra of Hometown Barbecue founder Billy Durney, who constantly repeats, "Stay humble, stay focused, stay hungry." Durney opened in Allapattah an outpost of what's considered the best barbecue in New York City. Here, you'll find all of the Texas signatures, including butter-soft brisket ($14 per half-pound) with a deep-magenta smoke ring rippled with juicy fat. There are massive heavily marbled beef ribs ($30 per pound) alongside thick-cut bacon encrusted in a fiery jerk seasoning ($7 per slice), as well as a refreshing coleslaw, rich-as-hell mac 'n' cheese, and jalapeño-studded corn pudding ($6 each). The house-made cheddar jalapeño sausage ($7 per link) is also worthy of attention thanks in no small part to the molten pockets of sharp cheese riddling each juicy link. Insider tip: Dinner reservations can be hard to come by, so drop in for lunch, when the restaurant serves its food in a fast-casual setting. Order your barbecue at the counter, and a server will deliver it to your table. Even if the line seems long, the service is efficient, so you'll be chowing down in no time.
Head to this beloved Cuban joint out west the next time you're hung-over or hungry and in need of caffeine. There are few better cures for either than Cuban coffee and hot croquetas. Opened in 1977 by Raul and Amelia Garcia, Islas Canarias has earned its spot as one of the best cafecitas — those adorable Cuban coffee shop/bakeries — in Miami-Dade County. That's mostly thanks to the restaurant's reputation for affordable croquetas and perfect, piping-hot cafecito. Even on weekdays, the place is often packed with people chowing down on the kitchen's made-to-order beef or chicken empanadas, medianoche sandwiches, pan con bistec, and those famous ham croquetas. Insider tip: Be prepared to wait for a table if you arrive Saturday or Sunday morning, but if you're in a hurry, there's a drive-thru.
The cocktail bar, located in the X Miami building, is known for drinks by bartender Will Thompson, but chef/owner Carey Hynes is the one upping the bar-chow game. Instead of gorging yourself on high-fat fried foods, why not dip some fresh Parker House rolls into a ramekin of duck jus? You won't miss chicken wings when you have aged country ham to pair with your drink. But the most genius part of the menu at Jaguar Sun are the four pasta dishes, each satisfying and soulful. The campanelle with mussels and saffron works best with rum cocktails. And everything goes with the bucatini, tossed with Parmesan, Pecorino-Romano, and black pepper. Pasta as bar food? It's so obvious yet such a revelation you'll kick yourself for stuffing your face with onion rings and pub burgers all these years. Insider tip: Start your evening at Jaguar Sun's weekday happy hour. From 5 to 7 p.m., forget your work troubles with the $8 Perfect Manhattan or other select drinks while you scarf down $3 Jonah crab claws with Thai dipping sauce.
The landmark Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant, opened by Monroe Udell in 1956, still makes each of its more than 60 flavors of ice cream by hand. Today the old-fashioned ice-cream parlor boasts not only one of the largest — and best — ice-cream selections in the area, but also one of the nation's largest collections of American memorabilia. Expect supersize scoops, waffles and ice cream, frosted floats, giant shakes, parfaits, and banana splits. Of course, Jaxson's is perhaps most famous for its Kitchen Sink sundae, available for parties of four or more: The restaurant's professional soda jerks will unleash their imagination for a sundae that offers a bit of everything but, well, you know. If you're hungry for more than ice cream, Jaxson's menu offers dozens of dishes from its "country kitchen." From wings to clam rolls, they're all homemade and authentic despite drawing from all regions of the culinary map. The Buffalo wings are zesty, barbecue beef is lean and tangy, the Reuben boasts tender corned beef on marbled rye bread, and even the clam roll sports succulent, freshly battered shellfish. Insider tip: Vegans can order an Impossible burger, but meat-eaters will need all hands on deck for the mother of burgers. Jaxson's Titanic burger boasts three half-pound all-beef patties, each topped with a different kind of cheese.
Jimmy's Eastside Diner has the casual, been-there-forever feel of a neighborhood hangout. The green-and-brown color scheme is oddly appealing, and the place looks bright and friendly — diner ambiance minus the dinginess. No need to settle for a table and chairs, because seating is all booths. And breakfast, naturally, is served all day, including monster omelets and refreshing honesty from the waitstaff: "Have the hash browns. The home fries have been sitting all morning." Philly cheesesteak for Saturday lunch, tuna melt, you know the drill — or, wait, maybe you don't. There are so few true diners in Miami you might think Jimmy's is a new concept. But look at the photos on the wall — new it ain't, thank goodness. Insider tip: If Jimmy's looks familiar, it's probably because the diner was used as one of the filming locations in the Oscar-winning movie Moonlight. Ready your camera, because you'll want to take a photo for the gram.
You know Joe's by now. You know about the storied history, the gloriously sweet stone crabs, the notorious wait for a table. Often overlooked are its consistently good food, truly professional service, free parking, surprising affordability (except the crabs), and stately ambiance that only a restaurant large enough to seat 450 can provide. Tuxedoed waiters whirl through the rooms with oval trays of food held high above their heads, and the ebullient buzz of diners subtly occupies the air like the intangible gathering of ions before a thunderstorm, yet it's difficult to imagine so sizable a dining room being any cozier. Stone crabs are, of course, the mainstay of Joe's menu, and somehow they seem to taste a little fresher and sweeter here. The rest of the menu doesn't disappoint. And nearly everybody orders Joe's key lime pie for dessert, renowned as the best in town. Insider tip: Joe's famously doesn't take reservations, so if you show up on a Saturday evening, be prepared to wait hours for a table. If you want to sit quickly, visit on a weekday, when the restaurant opens at 6 p.m. sharp (except Monday, when Joe's is closed), and you might be eating those sweet claws before you know it. Better yet — head next door and grab some stone crabs at Joe's Take Away, the casual baby brother of the iconic restaurant.
There are New York delicatessens that don't go as hard as Josh's. It's amazing to see thick cuts of house-cured pastrami gleaming with moisture and capped with ribbons of fat. The Angus brisket is cured for ten days, smoked, and then steamed; it evokes a smoky flavor (with a hint of sweetness) that puts it on a peppery par with great barbecue. The corned beef is cured, braised, thickly sliced Angus brisket cut into juicy, chewy slices — miles apart from the thin, pallid, fat-free strands of meat that nowadays pass for an original cut. All sandwiches come on thin slices of seed-flecked rye bread spread with dazzling yellow mustard — like everything else, made on the premises. All the meats and all the fish are cured and/or smoked in-house. Owner Josh Marcus makes the sour pickles too, alongside wild creations such as the Jewban — an unholy Jewish-Cuban alliance with pastrami, Swiss cheese, pickles, and pork. Be sure to also get one of the rotating very un-kosher brunch sandwiches, such as a croissant stuffed with soft-shell crab, fried eggs, bacon, American cheese, and paprika-laced ketchup, or an omelet filled with sweet lobster knuckle meat, leeks, mushrooms, and fontina cheese. Insider tip: Sit at the counter during the quiet afternoon hours to watch Marcus work and get an idea of what dishes might be on the menu in the coming days. Who knows? You could be the first to know about a special dry-aged steak night or when the bagels will be capped with sweet and spicy ground duck, crisp cream cheese, and herb salad.
Kaido, the Design District cocktail lounge by chef Brad Kilgore and mixologist Nico de Soto, is a lush den of food and drinks. Yes, the menu is filled with decadent items you would expect in a lounge situated above a Gucci boutique, such as grilled foie gras ($23) and Wagyu tataki ($95); however, it's Kilgore's take on old-school favorites that shine. Guilty pleasures, usually found in strip-mall restaurants and street-vendor stalls, are made elegant in the chef's hands. Kaido's fondue is a blend of cheese and creamy uni in a sea-urchin-shaped bowl, along with smaller dishes of vegetables, tiny bao buns, and assorted bits of shrimp, scallops, and calamari for dipping. Kilgore also turns the scourge of Florida's waters — the lionfish — into delicate sashimi, dubbed "Floridian fugu." Insider tip: Be sure to also make reservations for Ama, the little hidden bar inside Kaido. You won't find photos of it online because guests are instructed to refrain from snapping shots and using social media in the bar. That means you'll have to enjoy the company of friends and savor the food and drinks without your phone in your hand. What a novel concept.
Knaus Berry Farm's cinnamon rolls and strawberry milkshakes are the stuff of Dade County legend. Moms, grandpas, puppy dogs, the deeply hung-over, and everyone else under the South Florida sun has hauled it down to Homestead and waited in a seemingly endless line for the pleasure of some Knaus goodies, including U-pick strawberries, homemade breads, and fresh-picked produce. Not much has changed since the farm stand was founded in 1956 as a roadside stand where Ray and Russell Knaus sold berries. The brothers soon expanded their inventory to include pies, breads, and other baked goods when a fruit broker told Ray's wife Barbara that her cookies were good enough to sell. The farm is still run by Ray and Barbara's children and their families. Though the bakery has expanded to serve various other items, including fruit shakes and local vegetables, much hasn't changed in six decades. Knaus Berry Farm still accepts only cash and is always closed Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. Knaus is open from late October to mid-April annually. Insider tip: Knaus' cinnamon rolls freeze remarkably well, so get a few dozen extra. Pop them in the oven on a Sunday morning, and they'll instantly fill your home with the scent of cinnamon and vanilla.
At Kyu in Wynwood, a sizable portion of the restaurant's menu is prepared on its wood-fired grill using a combination of Asian and American barbecue techniques. Here, the meat is simply prepared with Japanese sea salt and black shichimi pepper and then smoked for 12 to 14 hours. It arrives divided into thick slices on a flat wood stump with a bevy of accouterments, such as fresh lettuce for possible wrapping, pickled cucumbers, red onions, and shiso. There are also three miniature beakers containing sweet/sour, spicy/smoky, and light/spicy barbecue sauces. Kyu is precisely what Wynwood has been missing: an Asian-American concept with a thriving bar scene, killer cocktails, and a fun and energetic dining experience. Insider tip: At the entrance, take a look at the massive abstract mural of a woman's face. It was created by 2Alas, a local street artist whose work can been throughout Wynwood and even around the world. Kyu worked with 2Alas to create a piece reflecting the neighborhood. You can also find the "Kyu lady" wrapped around the cans that hold the restaurant's signature drink, the Wynwood Mule.
Everyone knows La Camaronera Fish Market as the iconic Little Havana seafood spot founded by a family of Cuban fishermen. Often packed, this tiny space offers both table and counter service, where patrons line up to order Florida seafood at its finest. For more than 40 years, the restaurant's owners, the Garcia brothers, have been cooking up their famous favorites — including grouper soup, shrimp empanadas, conch fritters, and a fresh fish sandwich — along with dozens of other Cuban-inspired dishes. Most people flock to the dive for the house speciality: camarones fritos, a dish that's been featured on Michelle Bernstein's PBS show Check, Please! and Guy Fieri's popular Food Network series Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Decades later, the dining room during lunchtime is still packed with patrons hankering for those famous fried shrimp. Insider tip: Co-owner David Garcia says don't leave without a taste of these two hidden gems: black-eyed pea fritters and home-made coconut cream pie.
Hialeah isn't lauded for culinary excellence beyond the sea of croquetas and fritas. So you could almost hear the collective gasp when La Fresa Francesa opened near a canal that slices diagonally along the city's southern edge. Inside, washed-out farm chairs seem to dance around doily-lined bistro tables to the intoxicating French crooning often reserved for tourists at Montmartre. The aptly named Un Cubano in Paris is a good place to start. A pork shoulder is soaked in milk and rubbed with garlic and paprika before a four-hour braise in white wine. Creamy, silky shreds of it are piled onto fluffy rolls from Sullivan Street Bakery. Pickled red onions strike the eye with a brilliant magenta before hitting the palate with Dijon mustard's piquant snap. It's risky in this part of town to serve shredded pork with anything other than chopped onion, crisp skin, and mojo, but the owners of La Fresa Francesa — adoring couple Sandy Sanchez and Benoit Rablat — say the opportunity to set up shop in Hialeah was too good to pass up. Insider tip: The best night to stop by for dinner is Wednesday, when the restaurant offers live music. The list of nightly specials includes braised rabbit leg, cassoulet, and oxtail, all of which sell out quickly. Saturdays and Sunday, La Fresa offers brunch with delicacies such as bananas flambé French toast on medianoche bread and soft-baked eggs with truffle butter and cheese.
Peruvian culinary ambassador Gastón Acurio's Miami outpost at the chic Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key merges the humble cevicherías of Lima with the elegance of fine dining and the bold flavors of Nikkei cuisine. Helmed by Acurio protégé Diego Oka, who has honed his career at restaurants around the globe, the menu elevates Peruvian classics such as causas and the grilled, skewered meats called anticuchos to new heights of refinement that make even the most squeamish first-timers swoon. Insider tip: La Mar's dining room is buzzing and vibrant, but the best tables are on the waterfront patio. It's open all day, so you can feast under the sun, moon, and stars.
Since this French-owned eatery began selling sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and shakes in 1988, a crowd has lingered along the lengthy counter that extends up an alley off 14th Street between Washington and Collins Avenues in South Beach. The food is fine, but the funky alfresco charm no doubt accounts for a large part of the appeal. La Sandwicherie's counter workers begin with fresh, crusty French bread from Le Chic Bakery and then ply it with the patron's preference of meat, cheese, or a combination thereof, such as ham, turkey, roast beef, salami, and Swiss cheese, as well as more distinctive, Euro-friendly choices such as Camembert, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, saucisson sec, and pork/duck liver pate. Next come crisp toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, hot pickled red peppers, black olives, red onion, cucumber, and — the pièce de résistance — cornichons. Garnishes are followed by a finishing splash of tart Dijon-based French vinaigrette. Voila! — you have a damn good sandwich. Insider tip: La Sandwicherie has expanded from its original Miami Beach counter to three additional locations total in Brickell, Wynwood, and North Beach. They're famous for being open late night for post-dancing and imbibing eats (until 5 a.m. in South Beach and Brickell and 4 a.m. in Wynwood), and their vinaigrette. Locals drool over the perfectly tart dressing that comes with all sandwiches, often dousing their baguettes with as much as the bottle will possibly squeeze. Sandwicherie now offers bottles of its famous vinaigrette available for purchase for a mere $6.
Lingering at this egg-centric spot by Kyu's Steven Haigh and Michael Lewis is made easy. While Laid Fresh's friendly counter-service team crafts your mouthwatering meal of fresh sandwiches, salads, gluten-free options, and beignets, a colorful communal Lego table keeps you entertained. But the fun doesn't stop there. This all-day breakfast and brunch spot in Wynwood also offers a chance to disconnect from the daily grind: A wall of headphones hanging from the ceiling lets you listen to a selection of tunes ranging from heavy metal to wave sounds. You'll sit, relax, eat, drink, and never want to leave. Insider tip: The best way to wash it all down is with a $4 mimosa, a refreshing mix of Zonin prosecco and fresh-squeezed orange juice served in a mug.
Lokal is a brand with a mission: Burgers and beer with a sustainable, healthful bent. This neighborhood haunt sources locally and prides itself on freshness, quality, and staying environmentally responsible — not the mantra of your average burger joint. And in the end, Lokal's burgers are that much better for it — from the Miami Heat (spicy jack, jalapeños, and Sriracha) to the doughnut-as-bun Childhood Dream, complete with candied bacon. There's a helluva veggie burger too (oat bran, brown rice, beets, and prunes). Wash it down with a Florida-made Funky Buddha Floridian. Insider tip: Lokal is notably dog-friendly — it offers a canine-friendly menu that includes homemade Marmaduke's meatloaf, Yeyo's chicken and rice, and a nonalcoholic Bowser Beer brewed in Tampa especially for man's best friend.
Within the luxurious confines of the Faena Hotel, orange flames lick a multifunctional grill designed and built in Texas. Oak and charcoal fuel the plancha, parrilla, and smoker. It's also the source of scalding ash for rescoldo, a process in which vegetables are gently roasted in the fire's refuse. There's also an open pit where cooks string up whole chickens that bob to and fro. It's a method that Argentina's favorite cocinero, Francis Mallmann, often deploys while cooking in remote parts of Argentina or Uruguay's rolling hills. But there's no such rustic outdoor fire pit at Los Fuegos by Francis Mallmann. Instead, hulking steaks, whole chickens, and blistering cast-iron pans bearing charred vegetables whip around a crimson-and-cheetah-print room. And despite the fashionable scene, the food is superbly simple. Meat comes adorned with little more than a punch of chimichurri; sides receive only a splash of olive oil. Simpler is often better, and in this case, it's stunning. Insider tip: Be sure to visit on the weekends, when the cooks break out rope and steel to tie heaps of beef, chicken, and vegetables that are then slow-roasted on a roaring fire. Who knows? You might just find Argentine poet/gaucho/chef Mallmann, complete with a beret and a glass of Malbec, working the flame.
Inside the Betsy Hotel, LT Steak & Seafood boasts a considerable wow factor before the first course even arrives. Appetizers comprise mostly cold dishes, including shrimp cocktail, tuna tartare, and raw bar selections such as clams, oysters, and stone crabs. Even the sole warm offering — a moist, lusciously herbed crab cake — comes pooled in chilled dill-flecked Meyer lemon dressing. Non-steak-eaters might try lemon-rosemary chicken, seven-spice duck breast with foie gras and mango mustard, or harissa-crusted swordfish steak succulently grilled and highlighted with olive oil and lemon. For dessert, diners can choose three or five of eight all-American artisan cheeses or a round of blueberry-lemon meringue pie with a sweetly brittle pâté sucrée crust, lemon curd, baked berries, a cap of browned meringue, and a scintillating quenelle of lemon-verbena sorbet on the side. Insider tip: It's not easy to find a decent meal among the tourist traps on Ocean Drive, but LT Steak & Seafood continues to impress locals and visitors for its topnotch quality, service, and atmosphere. It's hard to go wrong with any order from the varied menu, but the popovers alone are reason enough to dine here. Before the meal even begins, a large flaky golden puff pastry is placed on each plate. Pull apart the warm, crusty exterior, and lightly spread a pat of butter on the soft dough inside for a bite you won't soon forget.
At first sight, Lucali, the Miami outpost of Mark Iacono's famed Brooklyn flagship, looks like a regular pizza joint. Furnishings seem unassuming — mismatched tables and chairs, an open kitchen, a working bench occupied by pizza-makers in cotton T-shirts — but by candlelight, everything glows. Men in white shine with sweat as they use empty wine bottles to roll dough. Pizza-makers take their time prepping pies for the wood-burning oven. Crusts eventually emerge thin and blistered, their surfaces puffed by blackened bubbles of golden dough. Melted buffalo mozzarella and shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cocoon smooth tomato sauce — a secret recipe that can be ordered as a side dish. You can add toppings such as beef pepperoni, artichokes, onions, red peppers, shallots, porcini mushrooms, and hot peppers for an additional buck or more. Any combination works. Regardless of what you choose, it'll be a flawless pie — the best one in town. Insider tip: Next door is an unassuming bar, Bay Club, which is also owned by the same team. When the wait is too long at the restaurant, grab a seat at the bar for a handcrafted cocktail and enjoy a pie there instead. It's a smaller bar-friendly size, whereas Lucali pies come in 24-inch only. Also, Lucali's happy hour, weekdays from 5 to 8 p.m., offers discounted beer, wine, and cocktails, plus every drink comes with a complimentary order of wings or meatballs.
If you're not used to the searing heat of Thai spice, ask for Yung Lai Thai Tapas' larb — a chilled ground-pork salad spiked with hefty doses of cumin, chilies, and star anise. It's one of a number of recipes chef/owner Bas Trisransi is reviving after learning by his grandfather's side decades ago. Chef Bas knows that the development of deep, complex flavors can't be rushed, which is why dishes such as the palo moo and tom yum soup take hours to reach perfection. It's quality Thai food that's both affordable and casual, and the tapas style will tempt diners to sample everything on the menu. A meal at Lung Yai Thai is a crash course for the palate; come with a sense of culinary adventure, and leave with a newfound appreciation for real Thai flavors and a full stomach. Insider tip: Reservations aren't accepted, and there's no take-out or delivery, so arrive at this 35-seater as early as possible because it normally fills to capacity during both lunch and dinner. Portions are large enough to share, and the food will tickle your taste buds without overloading your stomach, but keep in mind you must place your entire order at once.
Chef Michael Pirolo spent years traveling and cooking at Michelin-starred temples in Piedmont, Lombardy, Bologna, and Campagne. When he returned to the United States, he linked up with Scott Conant and eventually led the opening of Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach before debuting his own Italian restaurant, Macchialina. Pirolo's arsenal is as vast and precise as that of a championship basketball team. The veal and pork meatballs he calls polpettine are lighter than manna from Heaven, and the veal parmigiana arrives with bubbling cheese and tangy tomato sauce. Insider tip: Thursday evenings, Pirolo offers a selection of his pasta dishes for only $10.
It's difficult to say which part of bakery life burrowed deepest into Naomi Harris' soul. Harris was born in Miami and into restaurant royalty. Her father Larry and his brother Stuart founded Miami's beloved chicken chain Pollo Tropical in 1988. Harris, meanwhile, didn't plan for a life in restaurants, never mind one of marathon, overnight baking shifts. One summer during college, she interned with the pastry chef at Coral Gables' now-shuttered Cacao, and her career trajectory changed. At her Coral Gables bakery, Madruga, she turns out whole-grain country loaves in a variety of grains and seeds. There are also baguettes, scones, babka, croissants, and muffins. Her work earned her a semifinalist nomination for the 2019 James Beard Award for Outstanding Baker. Insider tip: Madruga is a hyperseasonal spot that makes the best of local products. That means mango-and-Brie-filled croissants in the summer and sugary tomato-stuffed pastries in the late fall. If you happen to buddy up with the soft-spoken proprietor, you might be able to persuade her to give you a small bag of the house-ground flour used to make many of the beautiful loaves.
The United States was once filled with roadside tiki bars and dinner-show venues. There, your grandparents would dress up to watch fire dancers and hula girls while dining on crab rangoon and pu-pu platters and sipping drinks called the Jet Pilot and the Zombie. These days, only a handful of those places remain. South Florida is lucky to boast one of the most glorious examples. Perpetually lit tiki torches welcome thirsty travelers from far corners. Sure, the Mai-Kai offers a spectacular dinner show, but the real fun is at the Molokai Bar. Here, servers clad in bikini tops and sarongs serve classic tiki drinks. You'll find no foams, dry ice, or other trappings of molecular gastronomy here. Instead, you'll sip grogs, rum barrels, and mai tais the way they were meant to be enjoyed — from shrunken ceramic heads festooned with tiny paper umbrellas and maraschino cherries in an atomic shade of red. Go ahead and add your name to the lampshades that bear the monikers of thousands of people who came before you, and listen to the thunderous beat of the drums while the show goes on in the next room. Then venture out to the tiki garden for a selfie. It's a slice of Americana that's both fantastic and authentic. Insider tip: Be sure to check out the bathrooms. A finalist in the Cintas Corporation's search for the "top toilet" in 2014, the Mai Kai's restrooms are designed to replicate a Buddhist temple in Thailand and feature shell-shaped sinks, gilded columns, and wooden gods. Don't forget to bring a few dollars to tip the full-time bathroom attendant.
The teeny Mandolin Aegean Bistro is housed in a former 1940s home adorned in blue and white. Quaintness fills the air as tangibly as the Greek extra-virgin olive oil fills vials on each table. There are just 17 seats indoors, but the garden patio out back seats twice that number. Mandolin's straightforward cooking is evidenced by a sweet, tender curlicue of grilled octopus misted with the same Mediterranean lubricants. Even chicken kebab, which is usually just menu fodder for timid eaters, is unexpectedly rousing: five huge, juicy hunks of deliciously grilled white meat enhanced further when dipped in a side dish of tzatziki. Don't miss the Greek salad: large ripe wedges of tomato, cucumber, and green peppers mingled with smaller shots of red onion, capers, and Kalamata olives, the radiant medley grabbing shade under a wide white plank of feta cheese. Insider tip: If the picture-perfect Greek decor has you swooning, stop by Mrs. Mandolin before or after a meal. Located only a block away, the boutique offers a collection of treasures curated by the restaurant owner. Mrs. Mandolin's keen eye has sourced home goods, jewelry, beauty products, apparel, and other artisanal wares from around the world.
When a Japanese restaurant is packed nightly with regulars and Asian patrons, you know you won't be seeing just some South Beach-style mango/jalapeño/piña colada sushi rolls on the menu. Since 1988, Matsuri — tucked in the middle of a random strip mall on Bird Road just west of Coral Gables — has been one of the best spots for authentic and astonishingly affordable sushi. The menu offers dozens upon dozens of options, ranging from soups and tempura to sashimi plates to deep-fried seafood and à la carte sushi and sashimi. The biggest draw, however, are the numerous traditional Japanese delicacies rarely found in the States. They're often scrawled on the specials board at the front of the dining room, where you'll see everything from ankimo monkfish liver (often likened to foie gras) to nama uni — sparkling-fresh sea urchin that tastes like a delicate custard with a salty kick. What's also always available: toro, the buttery belly of tuna that can be ordered as either sashimi or sushi, and it's priced far better than the offerings at high-profile spots. Insider tip: You won't get an English-language menu or much help ordering, so review a menu before you sit down, and be prepared to order dishes you might not be familiar with if you want to sample around, especially off that specials board.
The Design District's dining OG — Michael's Genuine Food & Drink — still impresses. Restaurateur Michael Schwartz's strategy is simply serving fresh food made with care. That "genuine" philosophy earned Schwartz a James Beard Award in 2010. Though he has since amassed a small restaurant empire, Michael's Genuine remains the purest way to experience the chef's culinary style. The menu rotates seasonally, but expect classics such as wood-oven-roasted octopus, house-made tagliolini with Calabrian chilies, and crispy pig's ears. Insider tip: The restaurant also offers a lively weekday happy hour from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., when you can get a proper Manhattan ($6.50) and a half-dozen oysters ($9.50) while you people-watch at the bar.
The oyster bar and seafood restaurant Mignonette, with its tan leather banquettes, a marble raw bar, and hanging constellations fashioned from copper pipes, is like Old Florida meets New Orleans. After a round of oysters and impeccably fresh Alaskan king crab legs, a solid choice is the crab cake. Meanwhile, the "fancy" redfish comes seared and paired with a reduction of sautéed shallots, garlic, and piquillo peppers that are deglazed with brandy, stock, and white wine, plus a touch of butter. The plump fish is well seasoned and an excellent match for the sauce and accompanying al dente haricots verts. If you take money out of the equation, it's easy to see why people would return to enjoy such high-quality, uncontrived food at a restaurant with a distinctly neighborhood vibe. Insider tip: Get superfancy with Mignonette's champagne and caviar happy hour. Weekdays from 5:30 to 7 p.m., enjoy Siberian baerii caviar with all the accouterments and a bottle of champagne for $75.
The restaurant, formerly known as Visa-O1 when it opened in Miami Beach in 2014, is now called Mister O1 owing to trademark issues. An O-1 visa is reserved for "individuals with extraordinary ability," according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. So, yes, this pintsize Italian pizzeria hidden inside a South Beach office building thinks highly of its pies, and for good reason: They're exceptional. Only the freshest ingredients and premium-quality cheeses (vegan cheese is offered at an additional charge) are allowed atop the thin-crusted, crisp pizzas served here. Both 13-inch and eight-inch pies are available, and there are even two varieties shaped like stars. You can't go wrong with the classic margherita, but if you're feeling festive, opt for the Federica. This beauty is topped with San Marzano sauce, mozzarella, ham, artichokes, fresh mushrooms, and black olives. Delivery is available. Insider tip: The real star of the show here is the Star Luca. The unique star-shaped pizza, whose points are perfect little dough pockets filled with creamy ricotta cheese, and the center is layered with the house Italian tomato sauce, mozzarella, and spicy salami. There's also a vegetarian Star Michele variation with grilled eggplant, zucchini, and roasted peppers. These star-shaped pies set Mister O1 apart from other pizza shops in Miami and led to the concept's expansion to Brickell, Wynwood, and even Madrid and Naples, Florida.
If the siren song of grilled cheese calls, head to Ms. Cheezious. This food-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar offers plenty of choices. The hot spot serves takes on childhood favorites such as mac 'n' cheese, s'mores, Frito pie, and grilled cheese in myriad iterations, but feast your eyes (and stomach) on the best option: the croqueta monsieur ($8). Miami's quintessential finger food and France's beloved snack join forces to create a thing of beauty that packs three ham croquetas, shaved tavern ham, Swiss cheese, béchamel sauce, and a few handfuls of Gouda on sourdough bread before being grilled to perfection. Insider tip: After your meal, grab another beer and stay a while on the backyard patio to relax or play some of your favorite childhood games, such as Jenga, Go Fish, and Uno.
At NaiYaRa, skip the standard pad thai. Beyond the crowd pleasers and plates that help pay the rent are a handful of ambitious dishes offering a peek at the possibilities. Chef Bee's beef jerky is crackly, smoky, meaty shards of addictive goodness. The woody, almost incense-like perfume of ground coriander overtakes your senses. The spicy dipping sauce called nahmjimjao, made with sweet tamarind pulp, lime juice, and chilies, functions almost like a barbecue sauce, yet it's far superior because its clean flavors complement rather than overshadow the meat. Insider tip: Chef Bee's menu is a blend of Thai street food and Japanese specialties, including a selection of sushi, sashimi, and raw items. You can't go wrong with red snapper or maguro sushi and sashimi options or the NaiYaRa roll — salmon belly, cucumber, avocado, and truffle oil topped with salmon belly brûlée.
The reason everyone foodie in town talks about this charmer can be found within the four-compartment bento box, which with a bowl of soup constitutes dinner. It's chef's choice, and chef Kevin Cory's choices — usually coupling a local catch with one or more flown overnight from Japan — are excellent. This is cuisine you'd expect to find only in Tokyo, such as silver-skinned aji tuna, and horse mackerel glazed with shoyu and plated with pickled wasabi leaves and flowers — freshly grated wasabi root mixed with horseradish on the side. Salmon wrapped in salted white seaweed; roasted freshwater eel; deep-fried shrimp tamago; rice with shiitake mushrooms and hints of eel — all are meticulously prepared and absolutely delicious. If you're still hungry for more, Cory will prepare nigiri sushi; ask for the Scottish salmon belly. Insider tip: Cory, the Japanese sushi chef behind Naoe, started his culinary training at the age of 19. He is one of few chefs in the world to have earned Forbes' five-star rating seven years in a row. Considering those credentials and the fact the cozy restaurant allows only eight per seating, you'll want to make your reservation at least a month in advance.
Celebrated Venezuelan chef Carlos García made his Miami debut with the opening of his first U.S. restaurant, Obra Kitchen Table. From 2013 to 2016, García's Alto in Caracas held a spot on Latin America's "World's 50 Best Restaurants" list. Now in Miami, García offers upscale comfort food in Brickell's Jade building right off SW 14th Street near the waterfront. The 3,000-square-foot restaurant boasts an open kitchen with a wrap-around counter, allowing diners to watch chefs in action and discuss the food while they eat. Insider tip: The Venezuelan-influenced menu centers on dishes cooked on a Josper grill. Keep an eye out for the Wagyu flank steak with brown-buttered onions.
It's been more than 20 years since Ortanique opened on "the Mile" in July 1999, but chef/owner Cindy Hutson's Caribbean-influenced Cuisine of the Sun never grows old. Red Stripe-steamed mussels, jerk chicken penne pasta, West Indian-style bouillabaisse in curried coconut broth — let's face it, you can't get this sort of fare anywhere else in town. The staff is warm, the decor is set in festive motifs of flowers and ortanique oranges, and the wine list has more gravitas than you'd expect from a modest neighborhood restaurant. Insider tip: Cocktails are $4 off during happy hour (weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m.), which means $7 each. Chef Hutson also prepares daily specials, so be sure to ask about the catch of the day.
The venerable grand dame of dining is usually reserved for marriage proposals and graduations. The food is French, but it's far from traditional. It's served in trendy and tasty appetizer-size portions so diners can assemble their own four- or six-course grazing prix fixes. Menu items include indulgences such as seared foie gras, king crab, seared duck breast, and seared black cod with lobster polenta. The fare is expensive, but compared to a round-trip ticket to Paris, the price to dine inside the legendary Biltmore Hotel is relatively reasonable. Indeed, Palme d'Or is a good reason to break out the dressy outfit and celebrate for no reason at all. How very French. Insider tip: Palme d'Or's dress code is "smart and elegant, to fit in with the unmistakable charm of this culinary icon." That means leave your Gucci pool slides at home and dress in a way that would make your mother proud for once in your life.
On the Upper Eastside, Phuc Yea is a grand 110-seater filled with the sounds of '90s hip-hop and the scent of Vietnam's ubiquitous fish sauce. Try the green papaya salad, where chilies, garlic, dried shrimp, and Vietnamese coriander are pulverized into a potent paste that's tossed with toothsome papaya threads, carrots, and sweet cherry tomatoes and then crowned with banana blossom ribbons, shallots, and herbs. Fish sauce also pools at the bottom of blue-and-white-spotted bowls filled with fat cubes of dredged and fried tofu encasing silken interiors. Insider tip: Like oysters? Phuc Yea offers them for a buck apiece during weekday happy hour (closed Tuesday). Wash them down with $7 house cocktails and $4 beers.
New England Patriots superstar Rob Gronkowski (AKA Gronk) and Hollywood hottie Mark Wahlberg flexing together in a rooftop garden? Yes, please. That's Planta. David Grutman of LIV fame is the man behind SoFi's hottest new spot — a vegan paradise for celebrities, influencers, and Miami's sexiest so-and-so's. Cousin to Planta Toronto, the alluring, tropical-inspired restaurant has drawn a sizable following since its March 2018 debut. The menu is extensive and on the culinary cutting edge, offering impressively creative dishes such as ahi watermelon nigiri, melt-in-your-mouth cauliflower tots, an omnivore-inspired meat lover's pizza, and a trofie pasta with truffled mushroom bolognese and almond Parmesan. Insider tip: Check out Planta's Maki Mondays, when you can snag unlimited vegan maki rolls for $27. Add bottomless sake for $23.
There's much more than beef at this inventive New American steakhouse. Guests can also dine happily on creative "chef's composition" entrées featuring poultry or seafood (such as wild salmon — incomparably better than farmed fish — with a lemon nage) or on meal-size salads such as the signature Prime 112 (romaine, spinach, cucumber, hearts of palm, celery, tomatoes, asparagus, and bacon chunks) or on cold-water oysters and other pristine raw bar selections. That said, the USDA Prime dry-aged steaks are superb, and so are the à la carte sides. They include upgraded versions of steakhouse classics — vibrant-green creamed spinach with crisp shallots, cornmeal-crusted real onion rings, and the like — plus unique creations such as sweet potato and vanilla bean mash. Reserving weeks in advance is wisest. Insider tip: Not only are the portions Instagram-worthy, but also Prime 112 is a hot spot for celebrity sightings. On any given night, Ferraris and Lamborghinis pull up to valet, and their doors open gracefully to reveal stars such as Miami Heat players and Kim Kardashian.
A Fort Lauderdale landmark, the Rustic Inn was once an old roadhouse saloon that now channels an Old Florida seafood fish house better than anyplace else in the city. Today this go-to hole in the wall is a locals' favorite, complete with a canal view overlooking a busy boatyard. After 55 years in business, the restaurant is still packed daily with folks looking to indulge in a menu that covers everything from steamed lobster to conch chowder. The main draw, however, are the famous garlic crabs. For decades, patrons have flocked here to wield wooden mallets and unleash their frustrations on the backs of thousands of fresh-steamed crabs. For this reason, the tables, both in the dining room and on the covered dock, are of the folding metal variety and covered in white butcher paper. It's the perfect setup for those crabs — blue, golden, or Dungeness — all steamed and then sautéed in the restaurant's garlic-infused oil. Insider tip: The restaurant also serves killer frozen drinks, including a margarita and the Rustic Rush — a blend of piña colada and Miami Vice. They're best enjoyed when you arrive by boat and tie up to the wooden dock. Sip while you wait for a table in the main dining room.
Think savory seafood and stunning views of Biscayne Bay from every seat — whether through clear bay windows or from outdoor tables illuminated by fire pits — and you get what Rusty Pelican is all about. Besides the raw bar and sushi options, the list of appetizers features crab cakes, grilled herb-marinated octopus with fingerling potatoes, and corvina ceviche. The last is made with luscious chunks of fresh catch tossed with choclo corn kernels, red onion, small cubes of sweet potato, cilantro, lime juice, and ají amarillo — which yields a nice bite in the back of the throat. Notable main courses include lobster risotto, pistachio scallops, and sunflower-seed-crusted halibut. For dessert, order the chocolate sabotage — a platter of vanilla and chocolate beignets, gianduja mousse, molten chocolate cake, and chocolate and peanut butter truffle pops served with crème anglaise, chocolate glaze, passionfruit marshmallows, raspberry coulis, and chocolate flakes. Insider tip: The restaurant boasts a glass cube cellar holding more than 300 bottles and has been recognized with a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award. All of its staff is required to complete the Court of Master Sommelier Level 1 training, and any of the servers can expertly advise you on a pairing, which you can order by the bottle or the glass.
Sakaya Kitchen serves a concise menu of casual Asian/Southeast Asian fare such as Filipino egg rolls, Japanese miso soup, Vietnamese bao (steamed buns), and a predominance of Korean street foods such as kimchees, bulgogi wraps, and spicy chicken wings. Natural meat, poultry, and seafoods are used, as are organic dairy and produce, some of which comes from local farms. All menu items are made from scratch, including the curing of meats, pickling of vegetables, and preparation of ssams, ssamjangs, and such. As with many of today's new fast foods, the cooking process tends to be really slow. And in the case of Sakaya, the results are consistently delectable — don't miss those pork buns or the bulgogi ssam wrap. There's a cool selection of sakes, indoor/outdoor seating, and a friendly vibe. Insider tip: Grab a pint of Sakaya's own beer. Comfortably Numb is a collaboration between chef/owner Richard Hales and Wynwood Brewing Company. The beer is a 5 percent ABV American blonde ale infused with fresh ginger, Tianjin chili, and Sichuan pepper flowers. The tap handle bears an image of Hales wearing a general's uniform in an elaborate gilt frame — a playful nod to the portraits of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris on the walls of the chef's restaurant Blackbrick.
It's hard to believe Miami never really had much in the way of freshly baked doughnuts before the Salty Donut came around to dominate the South Florida sweets scene. On any given weekend morning, sleepy people — some straight from the club — wait in line for a treat (or 12) from this small artisanal doughnut and coffee bar. With doughnut flavors ranging from traditional buttermilk to maple bacon and booze-inspired creations, the shop has tapped into the tastes and Zeitgeist of Miami. Insider tip: What began as a wildly popular pop-up with a borderline cult following in Wynwood has given way to two permanent locations: one in Wynwood and another in South Miami. The lines still grow long on weekends, and the shops stay open only until they sell out of doughnuts, so avoid the wait and order ahead online; pick-up orders require a $35 minimum, but add just one growler of Salty's buzzing cold brew and you're already there.
Imagine, for a moment, the Cuban sandwich of yesteryear. You could smell pork roasting from blocks away. Then came the sweet perfume of curing ham, followed by wafts of fresh bread and a quick jolt of tangy mustard seeds pickling in vinegar. Sure, it's the 21st Century, the era of industrial food, but Rosa and Daniel Figueredo's Sanguich de Miami is a throwback to cooking the way it once was and should be again. Just imagine: organic meats and cheeses tucked into a cloud-like bun that's pressed and crisped, creating an even better version of the masterpiece that has gripped Florida for decades. All of it can be yours for a mere 11 bucks. Insider tip: If you eat here frequently, you might get your name on a small plaque attached to one of the stools that run along the length of the counter. Or you could just order delivery and never have to go outside again. It's up to you.
Matthew Kuscher (Lokal, Kush, the Spillover) purchased the last of Hialeah's Jewish delis in 2017 with a mission to keep the tradition alive. Nearly two years later, he reopened Stephen's with a restoration so admirable it makes you feel like you're stepping back to 1954, when the restaurant was one of four delis on the block. Henderson "Junior" Biggers still slices the pastrami and corned beef to order. A pastrami and corned beef combo sandwich comes on rye, slathered with spicy deli mustard, accompanied by coleslaw and a whole sour pickle. Wash it down with an egg cream, served with a pretzel rod. At Stephen's, Kuscher pays tribute to the Hialeah of yesteryear while firmly facing the future. Insider tip: Walk through the back door to find La Cocina, a 40-seat bar decorated with lotto tickets and Caja China labels, and be sure to pay your respects to the late Walter Mercado in the ladies' room, decorated with a giant mural of the beloved astrologer.
Before Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis were Miami restaurant royalty, they set sail on a fishing trip from South Beach late one sunny afternoon in the fall of 2013. The blond Barbie and Ken look-alikes motored west toward the Miami landmark Stiltsville and kissed for the first time. Now married, McInnis and Booth are behind Sunset Harbour's Stiltsville Fish Bar, which opened in 2015. Housed inside a quaint 1940s structure, the warm, nautically inspired space is a lovely reminder of that fall afternoon. This is the place to bring your love, order the "big fish for two," and gaze toward the Sunset Harbour Yacht Club. You might just find the same kind of luck Booth and McInnis found. Insider tip: Just about every seafood restaurant offers a seafood tower, but Stiltsville serves a seafood tackle box. A vintage tackle box is filled with all manner of jewels of the sea, such as oysters, Florida lobster tail, royal red shrimp, and local snapper ceviche.
Jeremy Ford — the Florida-born, smooth-scalped winner of the 13th season of Bravo's reality cooking show, Top Chef — has set up shop in South Beach. At Stubborn Seed, he's building on his widely publicized win and pumping out dishes the likes of which Miami has rarely seen. Nairagi rests on homemade buttermilk dressing. A puck of warm celery root, braised with lemon juice and olive oil, is treated like meat and paired with slivers of maitake mushrooms, crisped in tempura batter and served with a frothy mustard sauce. Multiple carrot preparations, including foamed, puréed, powdered, pickled, and roasted, accompany a succulent hunk of umami short rib and show off the kitchen's deep skills and dedication. If he keeps this up, Ford is destined to become an icon like some of his long-standing neighbors. Insider tip: Sure, Jeremy Ford is one of the most talented chefs in Miami, but don't overlook the mad skills of executive pastry chef Dallas Wynn. During Sunday brunch, it's Wynn's turn to shine as she turns out sticky buns, chai waffles, savory biscuits speckled with fragrant black pepper, and her now-famous snickerdoodles.
Sugarcane's success all but screams at diners as they enter the voluminous space. It isn't just that the room is packed to the gills and very loud (although that always seems to be the case), but it exudes the big-city allure of a longtime landmark oyster bar and grill. The menu is divided into three categories: raw bar options, foods cooked on a Japanese robata grill, and some 20 small plates of globally inspired snacks. The raw fish items include blackboard selections of seasonal oysters, shrimp cocktail, king crab legs, several crudos, and a limited list of sushi/sashimi/rolls. Among the dozen or so robata foods, chicken yakitori is a favorite — soft, plump pieces of breast meat interspersed with snippets of thick, almost-leek-like Tokyo scallions, all lightly charred and glazed with a slightly sweet, mirin-and-soy-based tare sauce. Small-plate highlights include delicate veal meatballs in a sticky-rich sherry-fueled demi-glace, a New England lobster roll with shaved celery and fennel salad, crisp goat cheese croquettes, and steamy white pork buns brightened with apple kimchee and cilantro. Insider tip: If you want to see and be seen, grab a seat at the indoor/outdoor bar, usually filled with an interesting mix of locals and global visitors. On weekends, the bar stays lively till 2 a.m.
At the Surf Club Restaurant — a ritzy remake of a 1930s classic — prices and quality are among Miami's highest. Located in a completely rebuilt Mediterranean revival-style resort in Surfside, the restaurant stands just a few blocks from the high-end Bal Harbour. The original inn and eatery opened on New Year's Eve 1930 and quickly earned the nickname "Millionaires' Surf Club." It gained notoriety for its level of exclusivity and ability to attract the rich and famous, from the Rat Pack and Winston Churchill to Pulitzer-winning playwright Tennessee Williams and actress Elizabeth Taylor. Today the Surf Club Restaurant is run by one of the biggest names in American food: Thomas Keller, who remains the first and only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from Michelin. Many of the entrées boast high-priced meats, such as the beef Wellington. It includes 48-hour braised short rib in a beef mousse, which is layered with a spinach and black truffle mushroom pâté and wrapped in a paper-thin crepe. It's then bundled in thick brioche and placed in the oven for about a half-hour, which warms the center and produces an outer crisp. It's presented and sliced tableside on a wooden cart. The presence of one of America's finest chefs is a testament to how far the Magic City's food scene has come in the past 20 years. Insider tip: Though you'll be tempted by all manner of decadent items, such as applewood-smoked candied bacon, beef Wellington, and caviar, save room for the ice-cream sundae. A cart is wheeled to your table, where your server will make a bespoke sundae with your choice of flavors, toppings, and house-made whipped cream. It's a whimsical yet classic ending to a memorable meal.
Follow a hostess through the tall black gates of Villa Casa Casuarina on Ocean Drive into its courtyard, then upstairs to a pair of heavy wooden doors. Behind them waits a dark space with a wooden vaulted ceiling crisscrossed by intricately inlaid beams. You'll find yourself in Italian designer Gianni Versace's former suite, converted into a Japanese speakeasy offering intimate four-seat omakase experiences. As with Sushi by Bou's NYC locations, chef David Bouhadana is the itamae behind the creations in the $125 hourlong meals — a feast of 17 pieces ranging from smoked lean tuna crowned with a dash of gold flakes to uni sea urchin on seaweed or a scallop topped with volcanic salt. Insider tip: Your reservation includes private access to the G-Lounge, Gianni Versace's original cigar room. The cozy space is equipped with a personal bartender serving Japanese whiskys and craft cocktails, as well as leather couches, a fireplace, and a Mr. Sake dispensing machine. Seats are released one month in advance, and reservations must be made through the restaurant's website or OpenTable and paid at the time of booking.
Erika, the daughter and right hand of beloved itamae Michio Kushi, opened her own sushi spot just down the road from her dad's old haunt, Sushi Deli, in North Bay Village in 2018, and she brought many of her father's classics with her. Included on the menu of topnotch rolls are specials such as squid leg karaage ($5.50) and the opportunity to sample a chef's choice sushi platter. Calm your California roll cravings for a moment and order the battera — a traditional pressed mackerel dish ($8.50) — alongside a simple maki filled with the sweet gourd kampyo ($3.50). Bona fides confirmed, you're now ready to dive into the sweet shrimp served with its head, Japanese sea urchin, and needlefish when it's in season. Insider tip: The best way to get the good fish is to always secure a seat at the counter and chat up Erika whenever she has a free moment. Don't be too aggressive, though — the place gets busy, and when you see the orders piling up, it's best to sit back and enjoy the show.
In 2016, restaurateur David Martinez, Blackbird Ordinary's Dan Binkiewicz, and world-class bartender John Lermayer opened a Miami Beach bar meant to be a hangout where locals could gather for proper cocktails and a killer menu by chef Michelle Bernstein. This neighborhood joint — adorned with a pink neon sign that urges patrons to "pursue happiness" — quickly became one of the most revered bars in the world. Sweet Liberty has been named one of the World's 50 Best Bars and has won several Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Even Lermayer's untimely death couldn't stop the plucky bar and restaurant from staying true to its mission to serve good drinks and good food in a lively and friendly atmosphere. Insider tip: Check out Miami drag sensation Karla Croqueta's Birdcage Brunch. Part drag show and part cabaret, the brunch is offered the second Sunday of each month, with shows at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
Taquiza's Steve Santana does more work than necessary. No one said he needed to import dried blue corn from small Mexican farms. Not a soul told him to undertake the painstaking process of turning it into cornflour and then making tortillas. No one demanded they be filled with the slightly spicy, charred poblano strips called rajas or the tangy corn fungus known as huitlacoche. Yet the programmer-turned-cook, who did stints with Jeremiah Bullfrog and at Giorgio Rapicavoli's Eating House, decided it had to be done. And that was the beginning of a little walk-up counter on Collins Avenue that set a new standard for excellent tacos in a city where tacos are booming. Today Taquiza operates locations across the city, including North Beach, South Beach, and the Citadel. Insider tip: If you want a real, bespoke margarita, head to Taquiza. The bartenders mix fresh margaritas using only natural ingredients. They'll also make you whatever flavor combination you desire using real fruit and herbs. Want a strawberry cilantro margarita? Your barkeep will muddle the fresh strawberries — no purée here. Go wild and get creative with fresh coconut water, tamarind, and pineapples.
Secluded waterfront tables, gigantic burgers, and a no-BS service attitude make Hollywood's Le Tub worthy of repeat visits. Sure, tourists tend to stop by to check out the GQ- and Oprah-hyped establishment, but better than the burgers is the large wooden deck with kitschy South Florida decor, plenty of picnic benches overlooking the Intracoastal boat traffic, and the breezy, open-air bar. Insider tip: Le Tub is known above all for its sirloin burger, a never-fail option made with a 13-ounce ground top sirloin patty that's seasoned, charbroiled, and served on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Pair it with the owner's fresh key lime pie and a beer for a thoroughly satisfying meal.
Miami has New York-style delis, French bakeries, Mexican taquerias, and Cuban sandwicheries. Add Threefold Cafe to the mix, and the 305 can boast Australian-inspired cafés too. The all-day breakfast spot was created by Melbourne transplants Teresa and Nick Sharp, who wondered why a café of its kind wasn't already a Miami staple. Enhancements aside, there's a reason the locally grown restaurant has quickly gained popularity: straightforward yet innovative breakfast that's conveniently served throughout the day. The menu includes classic items such as eggs, waffles, breads, and French toast, along with more creative options such as the Big Bad Aussie ($19), made with fried eggs, house-baked beans, spinach, bacon, and toast. Insider tip: In the Miami-avocado-toast universe, Threefold's version reigns supreme. Bread is loaded with a heap of the creamy green fruit's flesh. Then comes a sprinkle of feta, a squirt of lime, and a speckle of basil. A crown of butter-roasted mushrooms tops it all. Spend a bit extra to hit it with a runny egg.
Michael Schwartz, along with executive chef and Miami native Stephen Ullrich, has returned to the style of cooking, food, and eating that made his first restaurant, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, such a delight and keeps it thriving to this day. Tigertail + Mary's menu is split into the familiar format of snacks alongside raw dishes, pizza, pasta, and small and large plates. The main difference here is the vegetable section, which has been billed as the highlight of the menu, making the eatery a "vegetable-forward" concept where produce offerings outnumber proteins. Asparagus and morels is a classic executed with deftness. In addition to running the vegetables, the kitchen boasts an impressive roster of seafood. The biggest hit so far has been the suckling pig. The whole beast is broken down into primal cuts and slowly cooked in fat with orange oil and star anise. Once it's tender enough to be pulled apart with a fork, the meat is plucked from the carcass and layered into a terrine crowned with a slab of skin that's roasted until the point of nearly shattering. It arrives with a touch of cabbage, beet greens, and a delicate mustard jus to help cut some of the rich fat. Insider tip: The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, but there's also a small counter-service café that operates daily from 8 a.m. to noon. Serving baked goods, hot breakfast sandwiches, smoothies, juices, and other tasty treats, the café is ideal for a quick alfresco bite on the patio, or simply order for delivery via Uber Eats if you live or work nearby.
Time Out Market Miami is a foodie heaven. Packing 17 eateries, a demo cooking area, and three bars into 17,000 square feet, the media brand's first U.S. food hall showcases some of the finest local chefs' food stands. The elite lineup includes Jeremy Ford's take on Korean dishes, Michael Beltran's wood-burning-oven-cooked fare at Leña, and Norman Van Aken's two new concepts — Beach Pie and K'West — the latter a homage to the chef's love affair with the Florida Keys. The food hall uses real glassware, and the three bars delight with wine, champagne, beer, and beloved cocktails from local darlings the Broken Shaker, Sweet Liberty, and the Generator. Insider tip: Finding your favorite tacos, pastries, and libations under one roof is almost too good to be true, but it can pose a serious threat to your wallet and figure. Navigate the entire food hall and plan on your courses carefully before ordering.
Tropical Chinese is still going strong after 35 years. Drop in for dim sum on weekends, when roast pork buns, shrimp in rice noodle rolls, sesame balls, and custard pots are usually cheaper. The dinner menu is chock full of offerings, from the traditional to the exotic. Appetizers include wok-fried salt-and-pepper-style calamari and the fun-to-eat "rainbow pancake," featuring four wraps to fill tableside with vermicelli noodles, wood ear mushrooms, shredded carrot, cabbage, scallions, and freshly ground peanuts glazed with plum sauce. A must-have entrée is the crispy flounder boat, made from the fish and supporting a decorative basket filled with wok-tossed salt-and-pepper-style nuggets of flash-fried flounder, crisp wine-battered banana slices, and broccoli florets. Insider tip: This unassuming spot in a strip mall in West Miami-Dade continues to be a go-to for the best authentic dim sum in the county. The famous dim sum cart travels through the dining room only during lunch service, so expect a crowd on weekends. Snag more than 30 kinds of dim sum, all made fresh onsite. The barbecue pork buns are a must; Food Network even gave them a shout-out.
Since opening in 1971, Versailles has become a Calle Ocho staple for locals and tourists alike. The 275-seat dining room is illuminated by golden chandeliers and surrounded by lustrous mirrors — a nod to the Palace of Versailles' Hall of Mirrors in France. But that's about the only taste of Europe you'll get at this classic Cuban eatery. The extensive menu offers appetizers such as croquetas — breaded and deep-fried cylinders of béchamel sauce and either fish, chicken, or ham — and lunch items like Cuban sandwiches — toasted Cuban bread slathered with mustard and layered with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, and pickles. The restaurant also serves a variety of seafood, chicken, pork, and beef entrées, all available with sides such as rice and black beans or fried sweet plantains. Breakfast is served daily, and Sunday mornings boast a special buffet. A classic ventanita — where patrons duck in and out for a quick fix of strong, sweet Cuban coffee — completes the Versailles experience. Insider tip: No need to leave home to sate your craving for a Cuban sandwich. Uber Eats offers delivery service for Versailles, sending cafecito and croquetas straight to your door. The full café menu at Versailles — including yuca croquetas, vaca frita, medianoches, pastelitos, and Cuban-style flan — is available for delivery.
Whether you're into almejas en salsa verde (steamed clams in green sauce), empanadas de atún (tuna empanadas), or Andaluz gazpacho (a spicy version of this cold soup), Xixón Spanish Restaurant is one of the few places that delivers northern Spanish fare directly to Miami. The concept opened in 2001 as a market but today has grown to include a fine-dining establishment complete with a wine cellar that looks as though you've been spirited off to the country's finest winery. Choose a bottle to enjoy during lunch, or grab one to-go. The market on the first floor of this two-story space offers a deli counter serving fresh-carved jamó and an assortment of Spanish cheeses, all of which you can turn into a sandwich. There's also plenty of fine Spanish olive oils and spices you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in town. But you might want to visit just for the rice dishes: The menu also offers four kinds of paella, including an arroz con bogavante rife with shrimp, clams, mussels, squid, and Maine lobster. If you still have room for postre, an expansive dessert menu lists more than a dozen unique sweets, including a carpaccio de piña topped with house-made mint ice cream. Insider tip: Go on Saturday, when Xixón serves the Asturian fabada, a traditional take on the rich bean stew, with white fava beans, blood sausage, chorizo, and a salty Jabugo ham that simmers for hours in a hearty saffron-spiked broth. The dish is so labor-intensive it's made only once a week. The same goes for the steak tartare, which uses ingredients so fresh the dish is available only Wednesday.)
At this izakaya in North Miami Beach, many of the best dishes begin and end in the deep fryer. Try the crispy pork onion salad, which combines savory deep-fried morsels of pork with refreshing sliced cherry tomatoes, radishes, red onions, and sprinkles of bitter watercress. Or opt for the crispy bok choy, served with a garlic-soy sauce. On any given night, Yakko-San offers more than a hundred dishes, spanning soups and rice to noodles, tempura, grilled items, and sushi, including ankimo — sliced monkfish liver sometimes considered the foie gras of the sea. Sample the restaurant's offerings in the late evening too — the cooks don't put away their knives, pots, and pans till after 3 a.m. Insider tip: Yakko-San, thanks to its late hours, is a favorite among chefs and cooks, who often dine at the restaurant's L-shaped bar. Buy some sake or a slice of toro for a line cook — it's the decent thing to do.
This colorful Nicaraguan joint is one of those spots you visit to feel like you're on vacation even if you're already on vacation. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Yambo is as much about the atmosphere as it is about food. On the terrace, folk-art knickknacks — miniature guitars, hats, porcelain pots, and even a mounted boar's head — hang from and cover every possible surface. An larger-than-life knight statue guards the dark-brown-tiled dining room. And you'll hear only Latin music coming out of the jukebox. Little English is spoken here, but you'll be fine: Simply walk along the cafeteria-style counter and point to what you want. Vegetarians and meat-eaters will be equally happy with dishes such as tacos de pollo, crackly fried corn tortillas rolled around savory ground chicken, and pescazones — fried knish-like potato balls brimming with chayote and cheese. No matter what you order, it's all piled high onto a Styrofoam plate alongside a generous portion of shredded cabbage and the usual sides of rice, red beans, plantains, or yuca. Just be sure to douse anything you order with the house-made hot sauce, a bright-red variety that's so addictive you'll want to smuggle it out when you leave. Insider tip: Though you can also dine at Salon Cacique Nicarao — Yambo's indoor restaurant with table service and translated menus — head outside to the 24/7 spot. It's a great way to grab a beer almost any time of the day, especially when poured into a convenient Styrofoam to-go cup.
Open for the past six years, Zak the Baker isn't your average coffee shop selling a few pastries. Miami's Zak Stern, a James Beard Award-nominated baker, has found his way into the hearts and bellies of Miamians through his perfectly baked bread. If you go to just about any Whole Foods location in South Florida, you'll find a variety of his signature loaves, cookies, and other artisan delights, such as chocolate babka. Plus, his mighty wholesale operation provides many local restaurants with the very best bread for their sandwiches. Insider tip: Come early Friday before Sabbath for challah, baked in limited quantities.