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Required Eating: Our 100 Favorite Miami Restaurants of 2021

Required Eating: Our 100 Favorite Miami Restaurants of 2021
Rusty Pelican
Rusty Pelican
Photo courtesy of Rusty Pelican

Savory seafood and stunning views of Biscayne Bay from every seat in the house (or out): That’s what makes this Key Biscayne landmark just off the Rickenbacker Causeway a perennial favorite for birthdays, engagements, and graduation dinners. The list of appetizers features crab cakes, grilled herb-marinated octopus with fingerling potatoes, and corvina ceviche. 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. The restaurant is equipped with a glass-cube wine “cellar” that holds more than 300 bottles, and all servers are well versed in the treasures within. New Normal: All staff members participate in Servesafe training. The restaurant is equipped with touchless sanitizer stations and accepts touchless transactions. Sunday brunch has transitioned from a buffet to à la carte..

($$$)
3201 Rickenbacker Cswy., Key Biscayne, 33149
305-361-3818, website
All Day
All Day
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

Nationally recognized barista Camila Ramos’ downtown coffee shop is a bright, tropical oasis nestled between downtown, Overtown, and the Miami Arts District. The centerpiece of the space is the massive La Marzocco espresso machine, among the largest in the nation, from which Ramos and her skilled team 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 don’t even think of missing All Day’s seasonal drink. Ramos the crew 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 the Paloma (grapefruit, nitro coffee, and pink peppercorn syrup topped with tonic water and dried pineapple). New Normal: All Day accepts reservations via Resy.

($$)
1035 N. Miami Ave., Miami, 33136
305-699-3447, website
The Anderson
The Anderson
Photo courtesy of the Anderson

The building that houses the Anderson has been a bar far longer than most of us have been alive. Restaurateur Ken Lyon has given the space new life with lush outdoor gardens, a tiki bar, and the taco joint El Toro Taco, decorated with wonderful black-and-white photos of people and places in Mexico — all shot by Lyon on his various trips to the country. Between the indoor lounge, the outdoor patios, and the eatery designed to look like a food truck, the Anderson seems more like its own little world than a simple bar and kitchen. New Normal: Lyon has enlarged the Anderson’s outdoor space and installed additional outdoor seating.

($$)
709 NE 79th St., Miami, 33138
305-757-3368
Anthony's Runway 84
Anthony's Runway 84
Photo courtesy of Anthony's Runway 84

Anthony’s Runway 84, from the owner of the Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza chain, is airport-themed, but it feels more like what you’d get 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, which leans heavily toward red-sauce Italian fare. Women with teased hair wearing leopard-print dresses with fat diamonds on their red-lacquered fingers drink pink martinis while Sinatra croons in the background. Before dinner, a basket of warm, fresh bread arrives with a dish of olive oil spiked with garlic and grated Parmesan cheese. If you’re on a date, agree that you’ll both have garlic breath — 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 rabe and roasted peppers. The sausage is spicy, the peppers are sweet, and the combination is classic. New Normal: Anthony’s takes all the recommended COVID precautions and now offers takeout and delivery for those who prefer to enjoy their sausage and peppers at home.

($$$)
3380 W. State Rd. 84, Fort Lauderdale, 33315
954-467-8484, website
Arbetter's Hot Dogs
Arbetter's Hot Dogs
Photo courtesy of Arbetter's Hot Dog

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 institution opened more than a half-century ago. The basic onion/relish dog is nicely tangy, and the sauerkraut/mustard dog, loaded with 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 you’re consuming a healthful greenish vegetable that certainly counteracts the menu’s cholesterol count — so, hey, have another. For a taste of the 305, try a Miami dog, with mustard, onion, cheese, tomato, and potato sticks. New Normal: Arbetter’s offers outdoor seating. If you can’t make it out to the Bird Road mainstay, order for delivery via Uber Eats, DoorDash, or Postmates.

($)
8747 SW 40th St., Miami, 33165
305-207-0555, website
Ariete
Ariete
Photo by Charlie Garcia

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 like foie gras with smoked plantains, but there’s something more than fancy amid the elegance offered by Beltran, who 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. New Normal: Ariete’s lush, outdoor patio is great for those who prefer not to dine indoors.

($$$)
3540 Main Highway, Miami, 33133
305-640-5862, website
Arson
Arson
Photo by Jose Romero / WordinTown

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. Whiffs of Asia and South America rise off of 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. New Normal: Arson and Niu Kitchen have combined in order to accommodate more outdoor seating. It’s a win-win for guests who can now order from both menus.

($$)
104 NE Second Ave., Miami, 33132
786-717-6711, website
Awash Ethiopian Restaurant
Awash Ethiopian Restaurant
Photo by CandaceWest.com

At Awash, owners Eka and Fouad Wassel want to take you to an authentic Ethiopian-style home kitchen called a gojo bait. Try the doro wot, a rich chicken dish with a depth of flavor similar to the moles of Mexico. The Awash River, from which this restaurant and many other Ethiopian eateries across the nation take their names, 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 brings home the history of this part of the world and the fact that much of human culture was born here. 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, the same one that’s repeated up to three times a day in the Horn of Africa. Green coffee 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. New Normal: Awash doesn’t have outdoor dining, so reservations are strongly recommended. In addition, Awash offers takeout and delivery.

($$)
19934 NW Second Ave., Miami Gardens, 33169
305-770-5100, website
Azucar Ice Cream Company
Azucar Ice Cream Company
Photo courtesy of Azucar Ice Cream Company

When you’re strolling Calle Ocho beneath the sweltering sun, nothing cools off your afternoon like a frosty treat. Pop into Azucar, where you’ll find flavors that could only be dreamed up in Miami. Making ice cream is a tradition in owner Suzy Battle’s family. Her grandmother made ice cream in Cuba and many of the flavors pay tribute to the island nation — like plátanos maduros (sweet plantains) and “Abuela Maria” (vanilla ice cream laced with with ripe guava, chunks of cream cheese, and crushed Maria cookies). New Normal: Azucar is a scoop shop, so order your cone and carry on with your socially distanced walk down Calle Ocho.

($)
1503 SW Eighth St., Miami, 33135
305-381-0369, website
Bachour
Bachour
Photo by Javier Ramirez

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 proffer 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 Coral Gables on 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 has become a hub for the community. New Normal: Cooking at home more often? Elevate your meal by ordering one of Antonio Bachour’s cakes.

($$)
2020 Salzedo St., Coral Gables, 33134
305-203-0552, website
Bakan
Bakan
Photo by Laine Doss

When you spot the decorative cacti out front, you’ll know you’ve arrived at Bakan. This lovely Wynwood restaurant offers traditional Mexican dishes far removed from the taco joints that proliferate throughout Miami. Here you’ll find Oaxacan mole dishes and whole grilled fish (and quesadillas and guacamole if that’s your jam). If you’re feeling adventurous, look for the “Los Exoticos” section of the menu. Try the gusanos de maguey, pan-fried agave worms served with blue-corn tortillas and a side of guacamole; and the escamoles, a rare ant caviar sautéed with butter, serrano chilies, and epazote and then wrapped in a blue-corn tortilla and topped with a spoonful of guacamole and pickled vegetables. Wash down your incomparable meal with a selection from Bakan’s list of 200-plus tequilas and mezcals. New Normal: Bakan’s gorgeous outdoor terrace, accented with rock gardens and aloe plants, has been expanded onto the sidewalk for additional outdoor seating.

($$)
2801 NW Second Ave., Miami, 33127
786-542-9139, website
BarMeli69
BarMeli69
Courtesy of Barmeli69 Greek Bistro & Wine Bar

This tapas and wine bar, located in Miami’s MiMo District, sits alongside a no-tell motel. The location makes BarMeli69 seem all the more like a hidden gem, a personal find, the kind of place you whisper about to your friends, as in, “I just found this great little joint.” Inside, the restaurant feels like one of those wonderful little bistros or tavernas you only see in movies. You really can’t pinpoint the exact country or town; you just know it’s charming. Wines are predominantly from the Mediterranean, including off-the-grid selections from Sardinia and Israel. All the tapas are delicious, but the showstopper is the flaming saganaki; the Greek cheese dish is doused with brandy and set aflame. A friendly, casual vibe, along with good food and drinks at reasonable prices, makes BarMeli69 a great neighborhood joint. New Normal: BarMeli now has a small outdoor patio behind the restaurant.

($$)
6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33138
305-754-5558, website
The Bazaar by José Andrés
The Bazaar by José Andrés

The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel on South Beach comes to us thanks to the 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 unique Latin American connection. Thus we get exciting plates like Japanese tacos: perfectly grilled eel, shiso, and wasabi, wrapped in slivered cucumber and topped with flakes of crisp chicharrones. More traditional Spanish tapas, including hams, cheeses, and croquetas, are also available. Can’t decide? Indulge in the $65-per-person “Clasicos” menu and treat yourself to a five-course menu of the chef’s favorites. New Normal: Indoor tables are marked for social distancing with whimsical stuffed monkeys. Alternatively, opt for an outdoor table courtesy of Bar Centro, another Andrés/SLS undertaking.

($$$)
1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 33139
305-455-2999, website
Blue Collar
Blue Collar
Photo courtesy of Blue Collar

Danny Serfer’s Blue Collar takes its cues from the classic American diner. The tiny restaurant in the MiMo District offers daily specials and elevated comfort foods. Start with a gutsy New Orleans-style dish of shrimp and grits with bacon and Worcestershire-based barbecue sauce, or Chanukah latkes (served year-round). Don’t miss the veg chalkboard, filled with delightful options from which you can build your own customized plate. Order up a cheeseburger, a thermos of Panther coffee, and a “parm of the day” and make yourself as comfortable as you’d be in your mom’s kitchen. New Normal: Chef/owner Danny Serfer has set up an outdoor beer garden where patrons can dine al fresco and down a few cold ones.

($$)
6730 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33138
305-756-0366, website
Boia De
Boia De
Photo by FujifilmGirl

This hip Little Haiti spot run by chefs Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer offers an ever-changing lineup of pastas designed to comfort and enchant. Look for pappardelle alla lepre, unctuous shreds of braised rabbit tangled with wide ribbons of pasta; or green pea garganelli with a pop of smoked trout roe. It’s not all about noodles here, however. Boia De offers plenty of non-pasta delights, including meat and fish dishes and crisp potato skins filled with milky stracciatella cheese, caviar, and a hard-cooked egg. New Normal: For the time being, the tiny dining room has given way to a similarly small outdoor patio. The restaurant sells wine to-go and has installed a ventanita for easy pickup.

($$)
5205 NE Second Ave., Miami
305-967-8866, website
Bombay Darbar
Bombay Darbar
Photo courtesy of Bombay Darbar

What began as a mom-and-pop 30-seater has grown into an Indian-food mainstay with two locations (Coconut Grove and Fort Lauderdale). Diners crunch on crisp papadum wafers while watching Bollywood movies on a large screen and perusing the menu. That list is 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. Most dishes can be made mild, medium, high medium, hot, or super-hot. (On that last note, the restaurant thoughtfully offers cold Kingfisher beers to cool you down from even the spiciest of culinary adventures.) New Normal: Both locations offer outdoor dining and contactless takeout and delivery options.

($$, $$$)
2901 Florida Ave., Miami, 33133
305-444-7272, website
Bon Gout BBQ
Bon Gout BBQ
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

The crew at Bon Gout BBQ arrives shortly after dawn to begin preparing brisket, ribs, and chicken for the barbecue, along with a bounty of Caribbean and soul-food sides. Here the secret is the epis: a Hatian seasoning base of onions, scallions, bell peppers, garlic, parsley, and spices, pulverized into a coarse paste that’s applied liberally to nearly everything. After several hours in the smoker, the epis dehydrates into a smoky crust with a sharpness that slyly balances out the meat’s fat. Don’t miss the griot — fat-rippled knobs of pork shoulder that emerge from the deep fryer with a burnished crust and a juicy interior. If you like, the meat can be lovingly tucked into a tortilla and crowned with the spicy fermented cabbage known as pikliz. Scoville Scale zealots can order Bon Gout’s extra-spicy pikliz, which 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. New Normal: Bon Gout’s barbecue travels well, the better to be enjoyed at home.

($$)
99 NW 54th St., Miami, 33127
305-381-5464, website
Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina
Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa

Bourbon Steak is a contemporary American steak house — and one of South Florida’s finest. Tucked inside the swank JW Marriott Turnberry Isle Resort & Spa, it offers all-natural, organic, and hormone-free selections of beef, 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, too, is topnotch, as are farm-fresh sides of truffle mac and cheese, roasted mushrooms, and crisp Brussels sprouts. In the mood for a casual meal? Request the Turnberry burger, an off-menu option made with your choice of beef, turkey, or falafel. To accompany your feast, Bourbon Steak’s wine cellar stocks more than 850 selections. New Normal: Party size limited to four guests who aren’t from the same household, six if they are. Tables are seated in a safe rotation, and restrooms are single occupancy.

($$$)
19999 W. Country Club Dr., Aventura, 33180
786-279-6600, website
Bulla Gastrobar
Bulla Gastrobar
Courtesy of Bulla

Bulla (pronounced boo-yah) is younger, cooler, and better than ever. Cocktails are delicious and fussy, infused with cardamom and currant syrup, lemongrass, and cucumber purée. Venture into the dining room, where chalkboards listing Spanish dishes adorn the blond-wood walls, to sample the small-plates cuisine. Doused in fried-tomato paste, albóndigas — veal-and-pork meatballs — swim in milky stracciatella. Croquetas de jamón — golden bits of pinguid beauty — gleam beneath a thin fig-jam glaze. On Saturday and Sunday, Bulla offers 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. New Normal: Bulla offers private dining options for families or groups that desire their own safe space.

($$)
2500 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, 33134
305-441-0107, website
Byblos
Byblos
Photo courtesy of Byblos

Byblos, the Eastern Mediterranean eatery at the Royal Palm South Beach, is, to put it baldly, a good time. The focus here 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 one offers a more extensive seafood selection than its Canadian 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, yogurtlike dip that’s cultured in-house. New Normal: Byblos has expanded its outdoor seating and offers QR code menus.

($$$)
1545 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 33139
305-508-5041, website
Cafe la Trova
Cafe la Trova
Photo by Adam Delgiudice

Between Cuban cantinero Julio Cabrera’s daiquiris and chef Michelle Bernstein’s fare, there’s something uniquely Miami about Cafe La Trova. 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 tres leches dessert. 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 Bernstein puts together with bomba rice and chicken marinated in saffron and beer. But as with all things Magic City, this joint isn’t fueled solely by good food and drink: 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 edifice. New Normal: Though Cafe La Trova is offering live music, guests are required to stay in their seats. Chair dancing is encouraged, however.

($$)
971 SW Eighth St., Miami, 33130
786-615-4379, website
Cafe Martorano
Cafe Martorano
Photo courtesy of Cafe Martorano

Steve Martorano is, bar none, 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. No matter the time of day or night, Cafe Martorano attracts a lively mix of locals, snowbirds, and celebrities who come for the cook’s meatball salad and stay for Martorano’s DJ skills. New Normal: Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made via OpenTable.

($$$)
3343 E. Oakland Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33308
954-561-2554, website
Captain Jim's Seafood Market & Restaurant
Captain Jim's Seafood Market & Restaurant
Photo by Michael Campina

La Camaronera’s David Garcia now owns this iconic North Miami seafood joint, which originally opened in the 1990s. This heir to Miami seafood royalty kept the menu mostly unchanged, allowing the restaurant to do what it does best: Serve the freshest fish possible. Favorites include stone crab claws and a beautiful take on conch salad with meaty hunks of the mollusk tossed in a spicy tomato marinade and cubed red and green peppers. Fresh yellowtail snapper and hogfish can be ordered grilled, blackened, or fried. Regulars go for the Captain’s Combo: the catch of the day served with one side. New Normal: Captain Jim’s has expanded its outdoor seating.

($$, $$$)
12950 W. Dixie Highway, North Miami, 33161
305-892-2812, website
Casa D'Angelo
Casa D'Angelo
Photo courtesy of Casa D'Angelo

Angelo and Denise Elia have run Casa D’Angelo for more than two decades. It’s often the first restaurant locals think of for birthdays or anniversaries, entertaining out-of-town guests, and Friday-night dates — and for good reason. 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. A long list of specials changes nightly, and a wonderful list of more than 1,500 Italian wines makes dining here rival a trip to Tuscany. There are two locations: the original in Fort Lauderdale and a second restaurant in Aventura. New Normal: Casa D’Angelo does its own delivery.

($$$)
1201 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 33304
954-564-1234, website
Chayhana Oasis
Chayhana Oasis
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

A mural depicting a desert beneath a floating pair of eyes is the only sign that beckons 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. Translation: You can eat your way around several nations. To keep the proceedings simple and entertaining, the menu contains quirky descriptions of lesser-known dishes. Begin with the doma, tender stuffed Turkish-style grape leaves; continue with cheburek, described as a deep-fried crèpe 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 crèpe. For dessert, try gnezdo, fresh meringue topped with diced walnuts. And in standard European fashion, wash it all down with a shot of top-shelf vodka. Go ahead — there’s no shortage of fresh, chewy Uzbek-style bread to soak it up. New Normal: Diners can choose to eat on the open-air patio.

($$)
250 Sunny Isles Blvd., Sunny Isles Beach, 33160
305-917-1133, website
Cheeseburger Baby
Cheeseburger Baby
Photo courtesy of Cheeseburger Baby

Cheeseburger Baby’s current owner, Stephanie Vitori, started as a delivery driver at the restaurant, before taking over almost two decades ago. The little burger joint, located on Washington Avenue in South Beach, gained worldwide fame after Jay-Z and Beyoncé were spotted enjoying a few sandwiches after hours. The restaurant’s motto is simple: Serve great burgers to people into the wee hours of the morning, at reasonable prices. There’s a curfew in effect, but the burgers are still fresh off the griddle, the beer is still cold, and the service is still friendly. New Normal: The dining room with its retro-diner seating is closed but outdoor seats are available. Better yet, take your burger to-go and enjoy it while gazing out to sea.

($$)
1505 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 33139
305-531-7300, website
The Citadel
The Citadel
Photo by Daniella Mía

The mixed-use complex, which also offers shopping, entertainment, and office space, houses a food hall with concepts from a handful of Miami’s most popular chefs and restaurants, including Richard Hales’ Society BBQ and the owners of Stanzione 87, who are behind wood-fired Neapolitan pizza spot Ash! Pizza Parlor. Find one of Miami’s best burgers at USBS Craft burgers and great coffee at Vice City Bean. This means you can get the best of Miami’s local food without hopping from neighborhood to neighborhood. The Citadel also boasts a 5,000-square-foot rooftop bar and lounge that’s open Wednesday through Saturday. New Normal: Get some fresh air and a cocktail on the Citadel’s rooftop.

($$)
8300 NE Second Ave., Miami, 33138
305-908-3849, website
Clive's Cafe
Clive's Cafe
Photo by Laine Doss

Clive’s makes its mark with great Jamaican favorites such as curry goat, oxtail, and jerk chicken. The original Wynwood location, which had been around for nearly four decades, closed, but Clive’s new home in Little Haiti is a colorful haven in which to eat some of the best Jamaican fare in Miami. The chicken is cooked to diner perfection and the curry is a smooth and subtle blend. The mood is laid-back, right down to the small radio pumping out reggae sounds. You just may catch Clive’s fan Lenny Kravitz taking in the scene. The place is great for takeout but just as nice for a midafternoon pit stop. New Normal: Space is limited for dine-in seating but takeout is always an option.

($)
5890 NW Second Ave., Miami, 33127
305-757-6512, website
CY Chinese Restaurant
CY Chinese Restaurant
Photo by CandaceWest.com

The minute you step into this North Miami Beach hideaway, your senses fall prey to the overwhelming perfume of rendered beef fat and chili oil. This Sichuan-style restaurant is the first U.S. project of 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 Chongqing native’s 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. 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. New Normal: Takeout and delivery are available.

($$)
1242 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach, 33162
305-947-3838, website
Dairy Belle
Dairy Belle
Photo by Laine Doss

If you think Americans have cornered the market on extreme food, you haven’t tried poutine. The French-Canadian dish, which became popular in Quebec in the 1950s consists of French fries smothered in brown gravy and cheese curds. The result: a salty, cheesy, addictive food that bathes the soul and clogs the arteries. Fortunately for South Floridians, Canadians flock to the region each winter. In 1998, Gilles and Ritane Grenier decided to open an ice-cream and fast-food stand. They put poutine on the menu and before they knew it, they were overrun by homesick Canadians and locals who got hooked on the dish. Dairy Belle recently moved to a strip mall, but the poutine remains the same. New Normal: Dairy Belle is only a mile from Dania Beach, so take your poutine to-go and head for the sand and surf.

($)
312 E. Dania Beach Blvd., Dania Beach, 33004
954-920-3330, website
Dasher & Crank
Dasher & Crank
Photo courtesy of Dasher & Crank

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, offers 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 D&C’s collaborations with some of Miami’s best restaurants, breweries, and purveyors. Owner Daniel Levine joins forces with locals such as Zak the Baker, El Bagel, and Per’La coffee to create innovative flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Past favorites have included “Avocado Toast,” made with lightly toasted Zak the Baker sourdough and an avocado swirl, and “Maple Bacon,” made with cured meat from Miami Smokers. Always-available classics include Tahitian vanilla bean, “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 nearby restaurant Kush. The shop gets super-creative for special occasions — team-inspired flavors for Super Bowl Sunday, for example, and a CBD-infused ice cream to commemorate National CBD Day. New Normal: Order a scoop to-go and take it on your self-guided Wynwood mural tour.

($)
2211 NW Second Ave., Miami, 33127
305-213-1569, website
Eating House Miami
Eating House Miami
Photo courtesy of Eating House

Eating House opened as one of Miami-Dade’s first true pop-ups. Created by Chopped champ Giorgio Rapicavoli, the popular Coral Gables restaurant offers a whimsical menu that, in other hands, would read as novelty items. Cap’n Crunch pancakes, for instance. Or Hotlanta fried chicken, or Tater Tots with Coca-Cola ketchup, or, for dessert, a dirt cup. But Rapicavoli manages to turn kitsch into a culinary art form. His menu, which rotates frequently, is always inventive, always fun, and always top notch. Be sure to check out the chef’s pop-up menus and his annual 420 dinner series on April 20. The unofficial “holiday” menu has garnered a cult following through unique dishes that anyone with a major case of the munchies would crave. New Normal: Tables are equipped with social distancing “curtains” and diners are encouraged to make reservations via OpenTable. Seatings are limited to two hours during dinner and 90 minutes during brunch. The restaurant has expanded its outdoor seating.

($$, $$$)
804 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, 33134
305-448-6524, website
El Bagel
El Bagel
Courtesy of El Bagel

Matteson Koche’s hand-rolled bagels, free of the additives and preservatives found in many renditions, are the heart and soul of this Biscayne Boulevard “bageleria.” Sandwich options include a bacon, egg, and cheese version and the “Lox Supreme,” as well as funkier creations such as the “Avo Spesh” ($8.50), made with smashed avocado, English cucumber, cream cheese, olive oil, and sea salt. The “EB Original” ($8.50), with its salty-spicy-rich combination of cream cheese, charred jalapeños, and thick-cut bacon, is not to be missed. Purists can purchase an unadorned bagel for $2.50; half-dozens and dozens run $12 and $22, respectively. New Normal: If waiting in line makes you anxious, make a weekday bagel run instead and buy enough to freeze for Sunday breakfast in bed.

($$)
6910 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
305-901-3102, website
El Exquisito
El Exquisito
Photo by Adrianne D'Angelo

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 cuisine. 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 reasonably priced 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 that range from hearty soups to oxtail stew. With more than 30 years at the same location, two expansions, and a loyal fan base, Exquisito is doing a lot of things right. New Normal: Takeout and delivery available.

($)
1510 SW Eighth St., Miami, 33135
305-643-0227, website
El Mago de las Fritas
El Mago de las Fritas
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

Sure, El Mago de las Fritas dispenses dinerlike 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 the Cuban hamburgers, AKA fritas. From the orange-hued 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. You can order a basic frita, but seriously consider a double with cheese. Whatever you do, don’t forget to add a fried egg on top. Most of the staff members don’t speak English, but if you’re uncomfortable ordering in Spanish, just point at what you want on the menu. New Normal: Outdoor seating is available.

($)
5828 SW Eighth St., Miami, 33144
305-266-8486, website
El Palacio de los Jugos
El Palacio de los Jugos
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

The name translates to Juice Palace, and that’s exactly what this chain is: a topnotch spot for fresh, natural juices. That, and so much more. The open-air restaurant is composed of three main areas: a juice bar, a sandwich counter, and a large hot-food section that offers great Cuban food as individual meals or by the pound. Prices tend to be low, even for seafood. By far the most popular dish here is lechón asado, served with congri and yuca or maduros, but pescado de aguja with yellow rice has its own fanbase, as does pollo asado with yellow rice and boniato (fried sweet potato). El Palacio can get crowded, attracting as it does a mix of young couples to families with screaming toddlers in tow. Bear in mind that they’re there for the same reasons you are: because the food is fantastic and the prices can’t be beat. New Normal: The chain has implemented expanded disinfection and sanitation protocols.

($)
5721 W. Flagler St., Miami, 33144
305-264-1503, website
Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop
Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop

This simple sandwich shop at the confluence where Wynwood, Midtown Miami, and Edgewater meet remains a holdout in the race to turn Miami into a sea of condominiums and Lululemons. The restaurant is also one of the most democratic in the city, its clientele a steady stream of construction workers, galleristas, tourists, and dwellers of the aforementioned condos, all dropping by for their cafecito fixes and Cuban sandwiches — here with a bonus in the form of croquetas pressed into the bread along with the meat and cheese. New Normal: Place your order in advance to pick up at Enriqueta’s ventanita.

($)
186 NE 29th St., Miami, 33137
305-573-4681, website
Finka Table & Tap
Finka Table & Tap
Photo courtesy of Finka Table & Tap

Siblings Eileen and Jonathan Andrade come from Miami dining royalty. Their grandparents founded Islas Canarias, the shrine of Cuban comfort food revered for its croquetas. Their parents carried on that tradition. It was on the sage advice of Mom and Dad that Eileen and Jonathan opened Finka — a funky spelling of finca, the Spanish word for “farm” — out in the far-western reaches of Miami-Dade. Gastropubs are a dime a dozen on the east side of the county, but Finka has a monopoly out west, and crowds line up nightly for Andrades’ Peruvian-Korean-Cuban fare: cast-iron cazuelas of pulled lamb and soft-cooked corn masa, Cuban bibimbap, and the famed croquetas from the old family recipe, available in ham, chicken, or fish. New Normal: Outdoor dining available.

($$)
14690 SW 26th St., Miami, 33175
305-227-8818, website
Fireman Derek's Bake Shop
Fireman Derek's Bake Shop
Photo courtesy of Fireman Derek's Bake Shop

Years ago, Derek Kaplan was a real-life Miami fireman who made pies with his dad on the weekends. The pies, baked in an industrial kitchen in Wynwood and sold from a food truck and a pizzeria in Coconut Grove, were a sensation. Now Kaplan is one of Miami’s most sought-after bakers, making pies for some of Miami’s best restaurants. Kaplan also sells his pies, freshly baked cookies, cakes, and ice cream sandwiches at shops in Wynwood and Coconut Grove. Kaplan’s fruit pies are massive affairs, with each one requiring several pounds of fruit. His pièce de résistance is the “Crack Pie,” which features a thick, sticky layer of salted caramel dusted with a generous blast of powdered sugar. The magic lies in the space where the crust and filling come together in a gooey, savory, otherworldly concoction that melts in your mouth and sticks to your teeth. New Normal: Order your pies whole or by the slice for takeout or delivery; the latter is now available anywhere in the U.S. via Goldbelly.

($$)
2818 N. Miami Ave., Miami, 33127
786-703-3623, website
The Foxy Brown
The Foxy Brown
Photo courtesy of the Foxy Brown

A Fort Lauderdale mainstay for nearly a decade, restaurateur Eliott Wolf’s Foxy Brown serves up well-executed comfort food in an inviting setting. The patty melt is perfect, the beef-a-roni and mac-and-cheese expertly calibrated, the French onion soup exhibiting an ideally Instagrammable cheese pull. The Foxy shines during weekend brunch, when you can indulge your inner child with s’mores waffles, doughnut holes, and a banana-bread grilled cheese sandwich filled with ricotta and Nutella. (Yep, you read that right.) All that plus cocktails, bloody marys, mimosas, and, if you’ve got the stamina, milkshakes — including boozy varieties. New Normal: Until further notice, the Foxy Brown is open Thursday through Sunday only.

($$)
723 E. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33301
754-200-4236, website
Garcia's Seafood Grille & Fish Market
Garcia's Seafood Grille & Fish Market
Photo by Michael Campina

This indoor/outdoor restaurant overlooking the Miami River serves fresh fish dishes and family hospitality courtesy of father-son team Luis Garcia and Esteban Garcia Jr. Garcia’s has been an institution for more than 50 years; in-the-know Miamians flock here for the freshest catch reeled in daily and available for purchase on the menu or by the pound at the fish market next door. If you choose to stay, you can dine amid dark-wood surroundings or enjoy the laid-back vibe and river view outdoors. 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 order your meal with a side of fries, coleslaw, grilled veggies, mashed potatoes, yellow rice, white rice, or salad. New Normal: Garcia’s has implemented all required protocols indoors and out, but we’ll take a seat on the upstairs deck any day. And before you leave, pick up some fresh seafood at the market to cook at home tomorrow!

($$, $$$)
398 NW North River Dr., Miami, 33128
305-375-0765, website
Ghee Indian Kitchen
Ghee Indian Kitchen
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

In, of all places, Dadeland, chef Niven Patel and his crew have opened Miami’s eyes to the cuisine of western India, a palette that consists of infinitely 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. Though the restaurant offers chicken tikka masala for the unadventurous, do not miss the sizable vegetable section on the menu, many of the ingredients for which are culled from Patel’s own backyard garden. Instead of an à la carte lunch menu, Ghee serves a meal of daily offerings that change according to the harvest from the chef’s farm, Rancho Patel ($18). New Normal: The restaurant has expanded its outdoor dining area and established an outdoor waiting area staffed by a greeter who assists guests.

($$)
8965 SW 72nd Pl., Miami, 33156
305-968-1850, website
Greek Islands Taverna
Greek Islands Taverna
Photo by Tabatha Mudra

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. The ownership team of brothers Sam and George Kantzavelos offer the kinds 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 its wide-ranging menu of classic Greek dishes, reasonably priced. Go for classics such as roast leg of lamb, flaming saganaki, chicken shish kebab, and a killer avgolemono (lemon chicken soup). New Normal: The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but tables are spaced at least six feet apart.

($$, $$$)
3300 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 33308
954-568-0008, website
Islas Canarias Cafe Restaurant & Bakery
Islas Canarias Cafe Restaurant & Bakery
Photo courtesy of Islas Canarias

Head to this beloved Cuban joint out west the next time you’re hungover 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. People crave the kitchen’s made-to-order beef or chicken empanadas, medianoche sandwiches, pan con bistec, and those famous ham croquetas. New Normal: Islas Canarias has a drive-thru if you’d rather pick up your cafecito-and-croquetas fix to enjoy elsewhere.

($)
3804 SW 137th Ave., Miami, 33175
305-559-0111, website
Jackson Soul Food
Jackson Soul Food
Photo by Aran Graham

In 1946, Jessie and Demas Jackson opened Mama’s Cafe in Overtown. The restaurant saw Miami’s historic Black community rise, fall, and rise again. Generations later, the family business had become legendary for its traditional soul food. In addition to Overtown, there’s a Jackson Soul Food outpost in Opa-locka; both locations offer traditional favorites, including fried catfish, smothered wings, oxtail, meatloaf, and ribs. A proper soul-food restaurant is known for its sides, and Jacksons delivers — from candied yams to fried okra, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese. New Normal: Jackson’s sells all its meats individually, so it’s easy to customize a family meal to take home.

($$)
950 NW Third Ave., Miami, 33136
305-374-7661, website
Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant
Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant
Photo by Christina Mendenhall

The landmark Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant in Dania Beach, opened by Monroe Udell in 1956, still makes each of its 60-plus 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 super-sized scoops, waffles and ice cream, frosted floats, giant shakes, parfaits, and banana splits. Be aware, that 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 concoction 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. Vegans can order an Impossible burger, but meat eaters will need all hands on deck for the “Titanic Burger,” which boasts three half-pound beef patties, each topped with a different kind of cheese. New Normal: Drive up, order your ice cream at the window, and tote your frozen treat to the beach, just a mile or so down the road.

($$)
128 S. Federal Highway, Dania Beach, 33004
954-923-4445, website
Jimmy's Eastside Diner
Jimmy's Eastside Diner
Photo by Aran S. Graham

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 any dinginess. If Jimmy’s looks familiar, it’s probably because the diner was used as one of the filming locations in Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning 2016 film Moonlight. Ready your camera, because you’ll want to take a photo for the ’gram. Seating is all booths, and breakfast is served all day, including monster omelets and refreshing honesty from the waitstaff, as in: “Have the hash browns. The home fries have been sitting all morning.” Philly cheesesteak for Saturday lunch, tuna melts — the fare has all the authentic markings of a classic diner. New Normal: Look for hand sanitizer at the tables. The diner also now offers all condiments — from ketchup to maple syrup for your pancakes — in individual packaging.

($$)
7201 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33138
305-754-3692
Joe's Stone Crab
Joe's Stone Crab
Photo courtesy of Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant

You know Joe’s. The history, the gloriously sweet stone crabs, the notoriously long wait for a table. Often overlooked are the consistently good food, the truly professional service, the free parking, the surprising affordability (except the crabs), and the stately ambiance. Tuxedoed waiters whirl through the dining rooms with oval trays held high above their heads while the buzz of diners subtly occupies the air like the intangible gathering of ions before a thunderstorm, yet it’s difficult to imagine so large a space 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 offerings, though, don’t disappoint. And nearly everybody orders Joe’s key-lime pie, renowned as the best in town, for dessert. If you show up on a Saturday evening, be prepared to cool your heels for hours. 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. Or keep it simple and grab your claws at Joe’s Take Away, the casual baby brother of the iconic South Beach fixture. New Normal: Joe’s has converted a parking pot into a patio area for additional outdoor seating. And for the first time in its century-long history, the restaurant is accepting reservations.

($$$)
11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 33139
305-673-0365, website
Josh's Deli
Josh's Deli
Photo courtesy of Josh's Deli

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 that same Angus brisket, cured, braised, and sliced thick and juicy — miles apart from the pallid strips of meat that pass for an original cut nowadays. All sandwiches come on thin-sliced, seed-flecked rye spread with dazzling yellow mustard — make, like everything else, on the premises. All meats and 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 made 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. New Normal: Until further notice, Josh’s is open Friday through Sunday only. Follow @joshsdeli on Instagram for special menus and pop-ups.

($$)
9517 Harding Ave., Surfside, 33154
305-397-8494, website
Knaus Berry Farm
Knaus Berry Farm
Photo by Laine Doss

Knaus Berry Farm’s cinnamon rolls and strawberry milkshakes are the stuff of Dade County legend. Everyone under the South Florida sun has trekked down to Homestead and waited in a seemingly endless line for the pleasure of U-pick strawberries, homemade breads, and fresh-picked produce. Not much here has changed since 1956, when Ray and Russell Knaus started selling berries at a roadside stand. The brothers expanded their inventory to include pies, breads, and other baked goods after 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 now serves other items, including fruit shakes and local vegetables, 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. But the cinnamon rolls freeze remarkably well, so pick up 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. New Normal: Knaus’ head of operations Thomas Blocher suggests bringing an umbrella to protect you from the elements and double as an automatic social-distancing yardstick during the wait outside the bakery.

($)
15980 SW 248th St., Homestead, 33031
305-247-0668, website
Kush by Stephen's
Kush by Stephen's
Photo by Karli Evans

Matthew Kuscher (Lokal, Kush, the Spillover) purchased the last of Hialeah’s Jewish delis in 2017 with a mission to keep the tradition alive. He reopened Stephens 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. To make sure the restaurant wasn’t stuck in a time warp, Kuscher revamped the menu, offering his now-famous burgers, alongside a whimsical cocktail menu. At Stephen's, Kuscher pays tribute to the Hialeah of yesteryear while firmly facing the future. Don’t forget to pay your respects to the late Walter Mercado in the ladies’ room, decorated with a giant mural of the beloved astrologer. New Normal: Old-fashioned booths lend themselves equally well to social distancing and date-night canoodling.

($$)
1000 E. 16th St., Hialeah, 33010-3316
305-887-8863, website
Kyu
Kyu
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

A sizable portion of the menu at Kyu in Wynwood is prepared on the restaurant’s wood-fired grill using a combination of Asian and American barbecue techniques. 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 wrapping, pickled cucumbers, red onions, and shiso. There are also three miniature beakers containing sweet/sour, spicy/smoky, and light/spicy barbecue sauces. 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. New Normal: Kyu has converted to QR code menus and digital payment; no cash accepted. Bathrooms have been upgraded to touchless. Diners must make reservations and wait in their car for their table to open. No waitlist, no bar seating.

($$$)
251 NW 25th St., Miami, 33127
786-577-0150, website
La Camaronera Seafood Joint and Fish Market
La Camaronera Seafood Joint and Fish Market
Courtesy of La Camaronera

Everyone knows La Camaronera Fish Market as the iconic Little Havana seafood spot founded by a family of Cuban fishermen. 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 has been featured on Michelle Bernstein’s PBS show Check, Please! and Guy Fieri’s popular Food Network series Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. New Normal: In times like these, a seafood-joint-and-fish-market combo is a bonus.

($$)
1952 W. Flagler St., Miami, 33135
305-642-3322, website
La Fresa Francesa
La Fresa Francesa
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

Beyond its croquetas and fritas, Hialeah isn’t lauded for culinary excellence. 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. Silky shreds of the meat are piled onto fluffy Sullivan Street Bakery rolls. Pickled red onions strike the eye with their brilliant magenta before hitting the palate paired 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 couple behind La Fresa Francesa — Sandy Sanchez and Benoit Rablat — say the opportunity to set up shop in Hialeah was too good to pass up. Saturdays and Sundays, they offer brunch a brunch menu that features creations like bananas flambé French toast on medianoche bread, and soft-baked eggs with truffle butter and cheese. New Normal: Open Friday through Sunday only.

($$)
59 W. Third St., Hialeah, 33010
786-717-6886, website
La Mar by Gastón Acurio
La Mar by Gastón Acurio
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

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. Orchestrated by Acurio protégé Diego Oka, who has honed his career at restaurants around the globe, the menu elevates Peruvian classics — such as the cold casseroles known as causas and the grilled, skewered meats (anticuchos) — to heights of refinement that make even the most squeamish first-timers swoon. New Normal: The best tables are on the stunning waterfront patio. It’s open for breakfast and dinner, so you can feast under the sun, moon, and stars.

($$$)
500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami, 33131
305-913-8358, website
La Sandwicherie
La Sandwicherie
Photo courtesy of La Sandwicherie

Since this French-owned eatery began selling sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and shakes in 1988, a crowd has lingered along the lengthy counter at the flagship location 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 accounts for a large part of the appeal. La Sandwicherie’s counter workers begin with fresh, crusty French bread, 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 pâté. Next come crisp toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, hot pickled red peppers, black olives, red onion, cucumber, and cornichons. Garnishes are followed by a finishing splash of tart Dijon-based French vinaigrette. Voilà! A damn good sandwich. La Sandwicherie has expanded from its original Miami Beach counter to additional locations in North Beach, Brickell, Wynwood, and Coral Gables. New Normal: The North Beach location is closed for dine in, but take a sandwich to go and walk one block to the beach for a makeshift picnic.

($)
229 14th St., Miami Beach, 33139
305-532-8934, website
Le Jardinier
Le Jardinier
Photo courtesy of Le Jardinier

Located in the Design District, Le Jardinier is the southern outpost of Alain Verzeroli’s first solo restaurant (also called Le Jardinier), which opened in 2019 in a luxury building in midtown Manhattan and has already earned a Michelin star. For two decades, Verzeroli worked alongside the great Joël Robuchon, helping the French chef assemble menus and a small galaxy of Michelin stars. Now on his own after Robuchon’s 2018 passing, Verzeroli runs his restaurant in partnership with the same company that operates L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, located upstairs from L’Atelier and accessed via a spiral staircase. As its name suggests, Le Jardinier adheres to the increasingly fashionable “eat your vegetables” ethos. Dishes like farro risotto with a parsnip and mushroom ragout are soulful and satisfying enough that meat becomes an option rather than a necessity. That doesn’t mean the menu is stocked with only rabbit food. A bavette steak, resting in its own juices and served with roasted artichokes and royal trumpet mushrooms will grab any carnivore’s attention. Le Jardinier’s $40 prix-fixe lunch is the best deal in the Design District — perfect for when you and your Amex need a break from shopping at Dior and Vuitton. New Normal: The restaurant has instituted a six-step program to ensure guest and employee safety that includes increased sanitation, staff temperature checks, and training.

151 NE 41st St., Miami, FL
305-402-9060, website
Lil Greenhouse Grill
Lil Greenhouse Grill
Photo by Nicole Gates

Karim Bryant and Nicole Gates own this charming little spot in Overtown that offers modern takes on classic soul-food dishes. Bryant, who oversees the kitchen, has a solid foundation built of stints at Capital Grille, Prime 112, and BLT Prime in Doral. With a background in radio, Gates has the task of spreading the word and making sure customers — from the neighbor on the corner to mega-celebrities Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King — stay happy. But who wouldn’t be happy when served a plate of barbecue smoked wings or a plate of chicken and waffles? Chase it with a selection from Lil Greenhouse’s wine and beer menu — and be sure to save room for banana pudding. New Normal: Lil Greenhouse’s wings and ribs travel well. Stock up.

($$)
1300 NW Third Ave., Miami, 33136
786-277-3582, website
Lokal
Lokal
Photo courtesy of Kush Hospitality Group

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 all the better for it, from the “Miami Heat” (spicy jack, jalapeños, and sriracha) to the doughnut-as-bun “Childhood Dream,” complete with candied bacon. Wash it down with a Florida-made Funky Buddha Floridian. New Normal: Lokal has a small outdoor area that’s perfect for dining with your dog. Fido, by the way, gets his own canine-friendly menu that includes homemade meatloaf and a nonalcoholic beer brewed in Tampa especially for man’s best friend.

($$)
3190 Commodore Plaza, Miami, 33133
305-442-3377, website
Lucali
Lucali
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

At first sight, Lucali, the Miami outpost of Mark Iacono’s famed Brooklyn flagship, looks like a regular pizza joint. Furnishings are unassuming — mismatched tables and chairs, an open kitchen, a working bench manned by T-shirted pizzaiolos — 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. Regardless of how you choose to mix it up, it’ll be a flawless pie — the best in town. New Normal: Lucali has set up an outdoor area on the sidewalk, complete with fairy lights and potted plants.

($$)
1930 Bay Rd., Miami Beach, 33139
305-695-4441, website
Lung Yai Thai Tapas
Lung Yai Thai Tapas
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

If you’re not used to the searing heat of Thai spice, ask for Yung Yai 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 at his grandfather’s side decades ago. 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 rightly 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 depart with a newfound appreciation for authentic Thai flavors (and a full belly). New Normal: Lung Yai Thai has a small outdoor patio and now offers takeout and delivery.

($$)
1731 SW Eighth St., Miami, 33135
786-334-6262, website
Macchialina
Macchialina
Photo by Liz Clayman

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 skills are many and precise, his menu focused and deceptively simple: a handful apiece of starters, pastas, and entrées. The flavors, though, are forward, thanks to expert deployment of fresh and fine ingredients, whether it be a salumi plate, a salad of heirloom tomatoes and locally made burrata cheese, a tagliatelle al funghi, or a whole braised fish. The wine list is similarly concise (and Italian). Consider ordering the five-course chef’s tasting menu; rest assured you’re in good hands with Pirolo. New Normal: Diners are seated on Macchialina’s lovely covered patio, il giardino (the garden). One party per night can rent out the indoor dining room for a specially prepared menu served family-style.

($$$)
820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach, 33139
305-534-2124, website
Madruga Bakery
Madruga Bakery
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

It’s difficult to say which part of bakery life burrowed deepest into Naomi Harris’ soul. Harris was born in Miami and into the restaurant business: Her father Larry and his brother Stuart founded Miami’s beloved chicken chain Pollo Tropical in 1988. But Harris didn’t plan for a life in restaurants, never mind one of overnight baking shifts. Then 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 a variety of whole-grain country loaves, along with baguettes, scones, babkas, croissants, and muffins. Her work earned her a semifinalist nomination for the 2019 James Beard Award for Outstanding Baker. New Normal: Madruga is open for pickup and takeout only, with hours limited to Wednesday through Sunday. Same-day orders can be placed via the bakery’s website.

($$)
1430 S. Dixie Highway, Coral Gables, 33146
305-262-6130, website
Mamey Miami
Mamey Miami
Photo courtesy of Mamey

Niven Patel, named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 2020 Best New Chefs, has already earned the respect of Miami with his first restaurant, Ghee (also on this year’s list). With Mamey, he showcases the flavors of the tropics. Bahamian conch fritters, Trinidadian roti, and Puerto Rican tostones all find a place on the menu, which is highlighted by produce grown at Patel’s own Rancho Patel, a farm he started in 2014 that supplies his restaurants with freshly harvested produce, from eggplants to beets, avocados, mangos, and herbs. If that isn’t enough to draw you in, how about a drink? The folks at Miami’s Bar Lab created the cocktail menu to complement Patel’s dishes. New Normal: Reservations are required.($$)

1350 S. Dixie Highway, Coral Gables, 33146
305-266-2639, website
Mandolin Aegean Bistro
Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Teeny tiny Mandolin Aegean Bistro is located in a former 1940s bungalow in the Design District, adorned in blue and white. The quaintness that fills the air is as tangible as the extra-virgin Greek olive oil that fills the vials placed on each table. Mandolin’s straightforward cooking is evidenced by a sweet, tender curlicue of grilled octopus misted with the aforementioned Mediterranean lubricant. Even chicken kebab — usually relegated to fodder for timid eaters — is unexpectedly rousing: five huge, juicy hunks of grilled white meat kicked up with a quick dip in the dish of tzatziki served alongside. 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 sneakgin shade beneath a wide white plank of feta cheese. New Normal: You’d be hard pressed to find a dining venue more charming than Mandonlin’s garden patio, which seats about 40.

($$)
4312 NE Second Ave., Miami, 33137
305-749-9140, website
Matsuri

Those in search of South Beach-style mango/jalapeño/piña colada sushi rolls ought to look elsewhere. 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 places in Miami for authentic — and astonishingly affordable — sushi. The menu contains 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. Also always available: toro, the buttery tuna belly, at far friendlier prices than you’ll see at higher-profile Miami restaurants. New Normal: Matsuri’s dining room is serving at 50 percent capacity.

($$)
5759 Bird Rd., Miami, 33155
305-663-1615
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Photo courtesy of Genuine Hospitality Group

The Design District’s dining OG — Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink — continues to impress. Restaurateur Michael Schwartz’s strategy can be summed up in six simple words: Serve fresh food, prepared with care. That “genuine” philosophy earned him a James Beard Award in 2010. Though he has since assembled a small restaurant empire, Michael’s Genuine remains the purest expression of the chef’s culinary ethos. The menu changes seasonally, but expect classics such as wood-oven-roasted octopus, house-made tagliolini with Calabrian chilies, and crispy pigs’ ears. New Normal: Michael’s offers seating in its expansive breezeway, an outdoor space that’s sheltered from Miami’s infamous sudden storms. There’s no pleasure quite like dining outdoors, safe and dry, with a thrumming rainstorm providing the soundtrack to your meal.

($$$)
130 NE 40th St., Miami, 33137
305-573-5550, website
Mignonette
Mignonette
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

With its tan leather banquettes, marble raw bar, and hanging constellations fashioned from copper pipes, this seafood restaurant, located across NE Second Avenue from Miami’s oldest cemetery, is like Old Florida meets New Orleans. Start with a round of oysters (or Alaskan king crab legs, or shrimp cocktail). Move on to a crab cake. The “fancy” redfish comes seared, with a reduction of sautéed shallots, garlic, and piquillo peppers deglazed with brandy, stock, white wine, plus a touch of butter, and haricots verts on the side. The beer is ice-cold, the wine list is refreshingly oyster-friendly. New Normal: Mignonette has added outdoor seating (weather permitting).

($$$)
210 NE 18th St., Miami, 33132
305-374-4635, website
Mister O1
Mister O1
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

Known as Visa-O1 when it opened in Miami Beach in 2014, this pizza joint had to tweak its name owing to trademark issues. “O1” is a reference to the O-1 visa the U.S. reserves for “individuals with extraordinary ability.” So, yes, this pint-size pizzeria thinks highly of its pies — and with good reason: Only the freshest ingredients and premium-quality cheeses (vegan cheese is available for an additional charge) are allowed to top these thin-crusted pizzas. The signature pie, the “Star Luca,” is star-shaped, its points formed from perfect little dough pockets filled with creamy ricotta cheese, its center layered with the house Italian tomato sauce along with mozzarella and spicy salami. That stellar creation set Mister O1 apart from other local pizzerias and led to the concept’s expansion to Brickell, Wynwood, and even Madrid, Saudi Arabia, and Naples (Florida, that is). New Normal: Mister O1 offers takeout and delivery; be sure to toss in a Nutella dessert pizza to enhance your Netflix binge.

($$)
1680 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach
305-397-8189, website
Ms. Cheezious
Ms. Cheezious
Photo courtesy of Ms. Cheezious

When 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 once you feast your eyes and stuff yourself with the “Croqueta Monsieur” ($8), you’ll likely look no further. Miami’s quintessential finger food and France’s beloved snack join forces to create an edible thing of beauty that packs three ham croquetas, shaved tavern ham, Swiss cheese, béchamel sauce, and a few handfuls of Gouda on sourdough bread that’s then grilled to perfection. New Normal: The lush backyard patio is filled with shady trees and decorated with colorful murals. When you’re done with your meal, order another beer and relax for a bit.

($$)
7418 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33138
305-989-4019, website
Naoe
Naoe
Photo courtesy of Naoe

Dinner at chef Kevin Cory’s Naoe at the Courvoisier Centre on Brickell Key is an experience you wouldn’t expect to find outside of Tokyo. The restaurant offers two seatings with a maximum of eight people per, and a chef’s-choice menu that might include silver-skinned ahi tuna or horse mackerel glazed with shoyu and plated with pickled wasabi leaves and flowers and 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 utterly delicious. If you’re still hungry for more, Cory will prepare nigiri sushi. (Ask for the Scottish salmon belly.) He started his culinary training at age 19 and is one of only a handful of chefs to have earned Forbes’ five-star rating seven years running. New Normal: Reservations only; parties of four or more are considered a private reserve of the entire room. No children under 12; those with allergies to shellfish, nuts, gluten, etc., should look elsewhere.

($$$$)
661 Brickell Key Dr., Miami, 33131
305-947-6263, website
Panther Coffee
Panther Coffee
billwisserphoto.com

It’s been more than a decade since Joel and Leticia Pollock started serving cold-brew coffee from a bicycle at Miami food truck roundups, ushering in the city’s craft coffee movement. Today, at Panther’s flagship location in Wynwood (four other outlets are scattered around the city, and there’s one more in Miami Beach), beans sourced from small farms in Nicaragua, Brazil, Guatemala, and Ethiopia are carefully roasted, then turned into pour-overs, cold brews, and espressos. You won’t find a cinnamon-pumpkin latte here, but you will find an honest cup of coffee that requires no flavor enhancement. Panther also serves cakes and snacks from local purveyors, as well as wine and beer. And, of course, WiFi. New Normal: The Wynwood location offers ample outdoor seating in the shade of a large tree. Beans are available online for mail order.

($)
2390 NW Second Ave., Miami, 33127
305-677-3952, website
Perricone's Marketplace & Cafe
Perricone's Marketplace & Cafe
Photo by Lynn Parks

For a quarter of a century, Perricone’s was a popular presence in Brickell. Last year, owner Steven J. Perricone announced the restaurant and market would close its iconic space and move to a new location in the Roads. The new 2,600-square-foot market and 150-seat dining room opened in June with many of the touches people loved in the old location, right down to the wood beams repurposed from a Vermont farmhouse. The menu offers a host of fare, mainly Italian, and includes favorites like cacio e pepe and Grandma Jennie’s meat lasagna. New Normal: Perricone’s has a wonderful market with prepared foods and gourmet provisions. The restaurant also offers catering.

($$)
1700 SW Third Ave., Miami, 33129
305-374-9449, website
Phuc Yea
Phuc Yea
Photo by CandaceWest.com

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, in which 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, then crowned with banana blossom ribbons, shallots, and herbs. PY noodles, tossed with garlic butter, oyster sauce, and Parmesan cheese, are soulful comfort food, as is a pho made with rich broth. On Sundays, enjoy a spirited brunch that features a frozen cocktail of the day. New Normal: Phuc Yea’s lantern garden offers a charming and whimsical place to dine alfresco.

($$$)
7100 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33138
305-602-3710, website
Pinch Kitchen + Bar
Pinch Kitchen + Bar
billwisserphoto.com

Pinch Kitchen owners Rene Reyes and John Gallo met while working at Casa Tua. They spent years together at various Pubbelly operations before realizing their shared dream and opening a cozy spot just north of the MiMo District in 2015. Pinch offers elevated versions of standard fare: Spanish octopus, croquetas, a crisp salad. The proof is in the quality of the ingredients and the care that goes into each dish. Take, for example, the Pinch burger, an eight-ounce patty made from a custom blend of ground beef, topped with caramelized onions and Swiss: a simple creation, prepared to perfection, and one of the best burgers to be found in all of Miami. The selection of local craft beers and thoughtfully curated wines evidences a similar level of attention. New Normal: Make a reservation in advance or grab your burger to-go. Seating is limited, though the owners have added a covered outdoor patio.

($$)
8601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33138
305-631-2018, website
Planta South Beach
Planta South Beach
Photo courtesy of Planta

This SoFi hotspot is a vegan paradise for celebrities, influencers, and Miami’s sexiest people. Cousin to Planta Toronto, the alluring, tropical-inspired restaurant has a sizable following. The menu, which could best be described as “vegan food for non-vegans,” offers 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. New Normal: Planta now delivers through Postmates, Uber Eats, and DoorDash.

($$$)
850 Commerce St., Miami Beach, 33139
305-397-8513, website
R House

This massive restaurant on NW Second Avenue is part art gallery, part restaurant, part entertainment venue. Partners Rocco Carulli and Owen Bale have made this space their own and in six years’ time made R House an integral part of its Wynwood neighborhood. The industrial-chic environs serve as a backdrop for the rotating art on the walls and the colorful Latin/Miami-inspired dishes. Carulli, who’s of Italian descent, doesn’t try to compete with abuela’s cooking. Instead, he takes traditional dishes like ropa vieja and makes them his own by braising coffee-rubbed short rib until it’s as tender as a daisy petal. On weekends, R House hosts lively drag brunches that attract an eclectic mix of brides-to-be, couples, friends, and families (yes, this drag brunch manages to be appropriate for savvy kids and still a rollicking good time). New Normal: Ever see a drag queen decked out in rhinestone-studded PPE? You will at an R House drag brunch!

($$)
2727 NW Second Ave., Miami, 33127
305-576-0201, website
Redfish Grill by Chef Adrianne
Redfish Grill by Chef Adrianne
Steve++Satterwhite

Red Fish Grill in Matheson Hammock Park was known far and wide as a gorgeous location for date nights, anniversaries, and birthdays. The waterfront restaurant sustained extensive damage to its coral structure during Hurricane Irma in 2017 and remained shuttered until recently. Chef Adrianne Calvo is at the helm of the resurrected Redfish, offering creative dishes such as a salad made with Beaujolais-poached pear, arugula, goat cheese, crisped prosciutto, and pistachios ($16); and ahi tuna sashimi with crisped shaved Brussels sprouts and pear, topped with ponzu aioli, soy, and truffle ($17). Other dishes include cobia ceviche ($18) and herb-stuffed branzino flavored with lemon and garlic ($40). Don’t wait for your anniversary to visit this stunner of a restaurant. New Normal: Redfish’s outdoor seating area will make you forget the world’s cares and woes — at least for one romantic evening.

($$$)
9610 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables, 33156
305-668-8788, website
Rustic Inn Crabhouse
Rustic Inn Crabhouse
Photo courtesy of Rustic Inn Crabhouse

A Fort Lauderdale landmark that was once an old roadhouse saloon, the Rustic Inn 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 local favorite, complete with a canal view overlooking a busy boatyard. After 55 years in business, the restaurant is still packed daily with patrons set on indulge in a menu that covers everything from steamed lobster to conch chowder. The main draw, however, are the famous garlic crabs, which require a healthy whack with a wooden mallet to get at the sweet meat. Ergo the white butcher paper that covers each folding metal table. It’s the perfect setup for consuming those crabs — be they blue, golden, or Dungeness — which are steamed and then sautéed in garlic-infused oil. New Normal: You can pull up to Rustic Inn in your boat, tie up, order crabs and a piña colada, and chow down in the comfort of your yacht (or dinghy). Those who arrive by land can still dine outdoors at one of the dockside tables.

($$$)
4331 Anglers Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 33312
954-584-1637, website
The Salty
The Salty
Photo courtesy of the Salty

It’s hard to believe Miami once had little in the way of freshly baked doughnuts. Then along came Andy Rodriguez and Amanda Pizarro in 2015 with the Salty Donut. These days, on any given weekend morning, sleepy patrons 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 (which recently rebranded as the Salty) has tapped into the tastes and the Zeitgeist of Miami. What began as a wildly popular pop-up with a borderline cult following has given way to two permanent locations: one in Wynwood and a second in South Miami. The shops close once they sell out of doughnuts, so avoid the wait and order online; pick-up orders require a $35 minimum but add a growler of the Salty’s cold brew and you’re there. New Normal: Order ahead and choose your pick-up time.

($$)
50 NW 23rd St., Miami, 33127
305-639-8501, website
Sanguich de Miami
Sanguich de Miami
Photo courtesy of Sanguich de Miami

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 a waft 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 and ghost kitchens, but Rosa and Daniel Figueredo’s Sanguich de Miami is a throwback to cooking the way it once was and should be again. Organic meats and cheeses tucked into a cloudlike bun that’s pressed and crisped, creating an even better version of the masterpiece that has tantalized Floridians for decades. (In keeping with the times, Sanguich offers a vegan version, made with marinated jackfruit.) New Normal: Sanguich de Miami delivers virtually anywhere in the U.S. via Goldbelly.

($$)
2057 SW Eighth St., Miami, 33135
305-539-0969, website
Society BBQ
Society BBQ
Photo courtesy of Richard Hales

With Society BBQ, prolific Miami chef Richard Hales departed from the Asian-inspired cuisine that put him on the map and tapped into his barbecue cravings. "When I'm at home, I'm cooking with wood and honing my skills," Hales told New Times in September of 2020. "There's something about leaving behind the electric and gas and using wood-fired grills. I've been toying with wood for six, seven years and you think you're going to control the fire, then it does something else. This is now what I want to master." With locations in the Citadel food hall and in midtown, Society BBQ offers lovingly smoked brisket burnt ends, pulled chicken, and ribs, available as platters or in sandwiches. For non-carnivores, Hales even offers vegan burnt ends. New Normal: Even if your aunt from Topeka can’t visit, Society BBQ ships its meats nationwide.

3450 Buena Vista Ave., Miami, 33127
website
Sonny’s Someday Steakhouse
Sonny’s Someday Steakhouse
Photo by the Hungry Post

Cocktail bar Jaguar Sun is well known for Will Thompson’s drink work, but chef/owner Carey Hynes is the one who ups the downtown Miami establishment’s food game. Though Jaguar Sun hasn’t yet reopened its doors in the X Guild Apartments highrise on Northeast Fourth Street, Hynes and Thompson have squeezed lemonade from their lemons, opening a three-nights-a-week steak-and-cocktail joint 70 blocks north at Lot 6 in Little River. Open Friday through Sunday evenings from 5 to 10 p.m., the steakhouse pop-up pairs Thompson’s drinks with hearty steakhouse fare in an outdoor setting that’s made for social distancing. The menu is simple: classic steakhouse fare with martinis and manhattans. Meatswise, there’s a 70-day-aged New York strip, a hanger steak, and a 40-day-aged rib-eye. A pork loin, half-chicken, and whole yellowtail snapper round out the menu. Classic sauces and basic sides are available. It’s a steakhouse experience under the stars — though your vegan friends might want to sit this evening out. New Normal: Sonny’s Someday Steakhouse is completely outdoors.

($$)
7357 NW Miami Ct., Miami, 33150
786-860-2422, website
Stiltsville Fish Bar
Stiltsville Fish Bar
Photo by CandaceWest.com

Late one sunny afternoon in the fall of 2013, before they were Miami restaurant royalty, Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis set sail from South Beach on a fishing trip. 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 romantic autumn day. Seafood lovers will admire the just-caught fish displayed in a bathtub filled with ice and the vintage tackle boxes filled with all manner of jewels of the sea, including oysters, Florida lobster tail, royal red shrimp, and local snapper ceviche. New Normal: Stiltsville offers extensive patio seating and its giant windows open on breezy evenings, letting fresh air circulate throughout the dining room.

($$$)
1787 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach, 33139
786-655-4365, website
Stubborn Seed
Stubborn Seed
Photo by CandaceWest.com

Jeremy Ford — the Florida-born, smooth-scalped winner of the 13th season of Bravo’s reality cooking show, Top Chef, in 2016 — presents gorgeous dishes the likes of which Miami has rarely seen. Though Ford offers an à la carte menu that includes seasonal delights like foie gras and pumpkin and a poached lobster, the best way to experience Stubborn Seed is through its eight-course chef’s tasting menu, available nightly before 9 p.m. for $150 per person. New Normal: Stubborn Seed’s brunch has been suspended; the restaurant is open for dinner only.

($$$$)
101 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 33139
786-372-6596, website
Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
Photo courtesy of Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill

Sugarcane exudes the big-city allure of a longtime landmark oyster bar and grill. The menu is divided into three categories: the raw bar, the Japanese robata grill, and some 20 small plates of globally inspired snacks. Raw bar items include blackboard selections of seasonal oysters, shrimp cocktail, king crab legs, several crudos, and a limited list of sushi, sashimi, and rolls. Among the dozen or so robata dishes, 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 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. New Normal: Sugarcane’s outdoor patio is a dandy place to enjoy a meal, and the restaurant also offers a pop-up menu from sister restaurant Sushi Samba.

($$$)
3252 NE First Ave., Miami, 33137
786-369-0353, website
Surf Club Restaurant
Surf Club Restaurant
Photo by Deborah Jones

Prices at the Surf Club are among Miami’s highest. So is quality. Located in a completely rebuilt Mediterranean Revival-style resort in Surfside, the restaurant stands just a few blocks from high-end Bal Harbour. The original inn and eatery opened on New Year’s Eve 1930 and quickly earned the nickname “Millionaires’ Surf Club" for its level of exclusivity and ability to attract the rich and famous, from the Rat Pack and Winston Churchill to Pulitzer Prize-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 U.S.-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from Michelin. Keller doesn’t take shortcuts. His beef Wellington is made from 48-hour-braised short rib in a beef mousse, layered with a spinach and black-truffle mushroom pâté and wrapped in a paper-thin crèpe, then bundled in thick brioche and placed in the oven for about a half-hour, warming the center and producing an outer crisp. Then, and only then, is it presented tableside on a wooden cart and sliced. 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. New Normal: Pandemic precautions aside, it’s steady as she goes at the Surf Club.

($$$$)
9011 Collins Ave., Surfside, 33154
305-768-9440, website
Sushi by Bou
Sushi by Bou
Photo courtesy of Sushi by Bou

Follow the hostess through the tall black gates of Villa Casa Casuarina on Ocean Drive, into the courtyard, then upstairs to a pair of heavy wooden doors. Behind them: a dark space with a wooden vaulted ceiling crisscrossed by intricately inlaid beams. This is Italian designer Gianni Versace’s former suite, converted into a Japanese speakeasy that offers intimate, four-seat omakase experiences. As at Sushi by Bou’s locations in New York City, chef David Bouhadana is the itamae behind the creations — all 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. Your reservation includes private access to the G-Lounge, Versace’s original cigar room, a cozy space equipped with a personal bartender who serves Japanese whiskies and craft cocktails, not to mention leather couches, a fireplace, and a Mr. Sake 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. New Normal: For a private dining experience, reserve the entire room and invite family or friends.

($$$)
1116 Ocean Dr., Miami, 33139
305-922-9195, website
Sushi Erika
Sushi Erika
Photo by FujifilmGirl

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 kara-age ($5.50) and a chef’s-choice sushi platter. Calm your California roll cravings for a moment and order the battera — a traditional pressed mackerel dish alongside a simple maki filled with the sweet gourd kampyo. Bona fides confirmed, you’re now ready to dive into the sweet shrimp served with its head on, Japanese sea urchin, and needlefish (in season). New Normal: Takeout orders only. Orders are accepted beginning at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday; customers are asked to pay in advance.

($$)
1700 Kennedy Cswy., North Bay Village, 33141
786-216-7216
Taquiza
Taquiza
Photo courtesy of Taquiza

Not a soul instructed him to undertake the painstaking process of turning it into masa and then making his own 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. Margaritas are made with equal care, in virtually any flavor combination you can imagine. Craving yours with fresh coconut water, tamarind, and pineapple? Done! Want a strawberry-cilantro margarita? Your barkeep will muddle the fresh ingredients. (No purée here.) New Normal: Taquiza North Beach is the only location that’s open, but South Beach residents can order for delivery.

($$)
7450 Ocean Terrace, Miami Beach, 33141
786-588-4755, website
The Le Tub Saloon
The Le Tub Saloon
CandaceWest.com

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 festooned with kitschy South Florida décor, plenty of picnic benches with a view of boat traffic on the Intracoastal, and the breezy, open-air bar. Above all else, Le Tub is known 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 a beer followed by the owner’s fresh key-lime pie for a thoroughly satisfying repast. New Normal: Le Tub is an outdoor facility that offers seating dockside and beneath a wooden roof.

($$)
1100 N. Ocean Blvd., Hollywood, 33019
954-921-9425, website
Threefold Cafe
Threefold Cafe
Photo courtesy of Caviar

This 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. The locally grown restaurant has quickly gained popularity and now boasts three locations. The menu includes classic items such as eggs, made with fried eggs, house-baked beans, spinach, bacon, and toast. 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. New Normal: Threefold’s dining rooms are closed but offer takeout and delivery from all locations. The café has instituted a virtual grocery service, selling everything from flour and paper towels to beer and cage-free eggs.

($$)
141 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables, 33134
305-704-8007, website
Tigertail + Mary
Tigertail + Mary
Genuine Hospitality

Along with executive chef and Miami native Stephen Ullrich, Michael Schwartz has returned to the ethos that made his first restaurant, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (also on this list), such a delight. 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-forward concept, wherein produce offerings outnumber proteins. That said, there remains an impressive roster of seafood, a skirt steak, and a double patty burger. New Normal: The front patio provides seating on a lush corner in Coconut Grove, making it a tranquil spot for dinner or weekend brunch.

($$$)
3321 Mary St., Miami, 33133
305-722-5688, website
Tropical Chinese Restaurant
Tropical Chinese Restaurant
Photo by Andrew Meade

Nearly four decades into its existence, Tropical Chinese is still going strong. 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. What’s more, this unassuming spot in a West Miami-Dade strip mall remains a go-to for the best dim sum in the county. On weekends, more than 30 kinds of dim sum are offered, all prepared fresh onsite. (The barbecue pork buns are a must.) New Normal: Open for outdoor dining and takeout only.

($$)
7991 Bird Rd., Miami, 33155
305-262-7576, website
Versailles Restaurant
Versailles Restaurant
Photo by Phillip Pessar via Flickr Creative Commons

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 Hall of Mirrors at its namesake outside Paris. But that’s about the only taste of France you’ll get at this classic Cuban eatery. The extensive menu offers appetizers such as croquetas — the breaded and deep-fried cylinders made from béchamel-bathed fish, chicken, or ham — and lunch items like Cuban sandwiches slathered with mustard and layered with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, and pickles. A variety of seafood, chicken, pork, and beef entrées are available with traditional Cuban sides such as rice and black beans or fried sweet plantains. New Normal: Avail yourself of the restaurant’s famed ventanita if you’re not of a mind to dine in.

($$)
3555 SW Eighth St., Miami, 33135
305-444-0240, website
Wabi Sabi by Shuji
Wabi Sabi by Shuji
Courtesy of Wabi Sabi by Shuji

Shuji Hiyakawa, former executive sushi chef of Kuro at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, brings Japan to Miami with his first solo venture. This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot on the 79th Street Causeway dispenses wonderfully simple and straightforward ingredient-based sushi bowls, such as the Wabi Sabi (filled with tuna, salmon, crab, tobiko, cucumber, avocado, seaweed, and shiitake mushrooms). Look for daily specials, cooked-fish, creations, and six flavors of mochi ice cream (including matcha green tea and salted caramel). New Normal: Craving an omakase experience at home? Wabi Sabi’s is priced at $100 to-go.

($$, $$$, $$$$)
851 NE 79th St., Miami, 33138
305-890-7228, website
World Famous House of Mac
World Famous House of Mac
Courtesy of World Famous House of Mac

Derrick “Chef Teach” Turton graduated culinary school in 1998 but got sidelined by his other passion: music. That led to a stint managing Pitbull in the early 2000s. But Turton he never stopped cooking, and when he opened World Famous House of Mac, he discovered his true calling. Here, you will find mac and cheese in its purest form: as a big, heaping dish of gooey, sloppy, heart-stopping cheesy goodness. If you’ve had a crappy day and need the food equivalent of a big hug from Grandma, go with the chicken parm mac ‘n’ cheese, with hunks of breaded fried chicken mixed in. Sure, it’s big and you meant to share, but one bite leads to another and another and it’s gone. Don’t worry. It happens. Just order another. House of Mac is here to comfort, not to judge. New Normal: It stands to reason that mac and cheese is always there for you.

2055 NW Second Ave., Miami, 33127
786-636-6967, website
Xixón Spanish Restaurant
Xixón Spanish Restaurant
Photo by Michael McElroy

Whether you’re into almejas en salsa verde (steamed clams in green sauce), empanadas de atún (tuna empanadas), or gazpacho Andaluz (a spicy version of the classic chilled soup), Xixón Spanish Restaurant is one of the few places in Miami that serves northern Spanish fare. The restaurant opened in 2001 as a market but now includes a fine-dining establishment complete with a cellar that makes you feel as though you’ve been spirited off to wine country. The menu 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. New Normal: The market on the first floor of this two-story space has a deli counter serving fresh-carved jamón and an assortment of Spanish cheeses, which you can turn into a sandwich — not to mention Spanish staples you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in town, and a great selection of wines by the bottle.

($$)
2101 SW 22nd St., Miami, 33145
305-854-9350, website
Yakko-San
Yakko-San
Photo courtesy of Yakko-San

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 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, from soups and rice to noodles, tempura, grilled items, and sushi, including ankimo — sliced monkfish liver known as the foie gras of the sea. New Normal: Though traditionally a late-night spot, Yakko-San now closes at midnight.

($$)
3881 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach, 33160
305-947-0064, website
Yambo Restaurant
Yambo Restaurant
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

This colorful Nicaraguan joint is one of those places you visit to feel like you’re on vacation even if you’re already on vacation. Yambo is as much about the atmosphere as it is about food. On the terrace, folk-art knickknacks — miniature guitars, hats, porcelain pots, even a mounted boar’s head — hang from and cover every possible surface. A larger-than-life statue of a knight guards the tiled dining room. And you’ll hear only Latin music coming out of the jukebox. Little English is spoken here, but monolingual Anglos needn’t worry: Simply walk along the cafeteria-style counter and point to what you want. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike will find plenty to gorge on — crackly fried tacos de pollo, and pescazones (fried knishlike potato balls brimming with chayote and cheese. Your order is piled high onto a Styrofoam plate alongside a generous portion of shredded cabbage and the usual sides of rice, red beans, plantains, or yuca. New Normal: On Yambo’s outdoor patio, grab a beer, poured into a to-go cup.

($)
1643 SW First St., Miami, 33135
305-649-0203
Zak the Baker Bakery
Zak the Baker Bakery
Platonic Studios / Courtesy of Zak the Baker

Zak the Baker in Wynwood isn’t your average coffee shop that hawks a few pastries. Zak Stern, a James Beard Award-nominated baker, has found his way into the hearts and bellies of Miamians through his perfectly baked breads. If you go to just about any Whole Foods location in South Florida, you’ll find a variety of Stern’s 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. But nothing compares to consuming baked goods directly from their source. New Normal: Stern has created an outdoor seating terrace, where he offers an evening pop-up falafel menu and a program of live music for your enhanced enjoyment.

($$)
295 NW 26th St., Miami, 33127
786-294-0876, website

Rusty Pelican

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