Best Hotel Restaurant 2015 | Morimoto | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

It used to be that Miamians could catch late-night glimpses of chef Masaharu Morimoto only on the Japanese cooking-competition show Iron Chef. Then Food Network brought him to prime time with the show's spinoff, Iron Chef America. If you wanted a real taste of the chef's expertise, you had to hoof it all the way to his sushi bar and restaurant at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. But all of that changed last year when he opened Morimoto at the Shelborne. Inside the luxe, low-lit enclave opening onto the resort's pool, diners can indulge in a feast of sushi, sashimi, and other seafood delights, all prepared with the expertise and creativity that made Chef Morimoto a household name. You can choose from a menu stocked with inventive options such as ishi yaki buri bop (yellowtail cooked in a stone bowl at your table, $30) or select from dozens of sushi and sashimi items at the sushi bar. But for Morimoto superfans, the "chef's choice" omakase tasting menu is worth the splurge: course after delectable course (offerings change regularly), all designed to let you "experience the essence of Morimoto's cuisine." Add on the sake pairings and any upgrade your waiter offers, be it Wagyu beef or tableside wasabi-grinding, because, hey, you're in the Iron Chef's house, and you only live once.

There's a reason many chefs don't try to cook their grandmother's specialties. No one wants that challenge. So maybe the restaurant now standing alongside the wildly popular bar the Broken Shaker has recruited a legion of grandmothers from across Miami's diaspora. We never knew you could combine latkes ($8), ropa vieja-packed arepas ($32), and crisp griot ($9) into the same meal. Now, thanks to 27 Restaurant & Bar, there is no going back. And at this charming indoor/outdoor place, you can sample cocktails by Bar Lab duo Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta. The space, which the staff affectionately calls "the house," is covered with brightly patterned wallpaper and packed with beachy-boozy tchotchkes. If it feels like home, that's because it is.

Coconut Grove is one of Miami's most beautiful neighborhoods, but there's only one restaurant where you can truly appreciate its breathtaking seaside location. Tucked away on the eighth floor of the Sonesta hotel is Panorama, a hidden gem of a restaurant that holds many surprises. The first is the view. Get there before sunset, order a glass of wine, and you'll know without a doubt that this place could have no other name. After the sun sets, stay for the food, which features fantastic Peruvian dishes from executive chef Chris Cramer. There are fiery ceviches ($15 to $16) and patacones con pollo ($10) — fried plantains with chicken and cheese — for starters. Traditional soups like spicy chupe de camarones ($12) and pollo con fideos ($10) — chicken soup with hard-boiled eggs and cilantro — are soul-satisfying. Entrées include grilled churrasco ($19) and lomo saltado ($24). Throw in one of the best margaritas in town and you'll have everything you need to remind you that you live in the most gorgeous city on the globe.

Readers' choice: GreenStreet Café

Best Restaurant in Coral Gables/South Miami

Seasons 52

Things are constantly changing at Seasons 52. Described as a "celebration of what is now," the Coral Gables restaurant serves "the best of each season, straight to your table," according to its menu. Dishes vary based on the time of year. If you're lucky, you'll get wild Alaskan halibut served with spring vegetables, succotash, chorizo, and romesco sauce ($29.95). Or you'll luck into wood-grilled pork tenderloin paired with sweet-potato mash, bacon sauté, French green beans, and cipollini onions ($17.95). Every plate, from appetizers to entrées, is prepared "with rustic techniques like oak-fire grilling and brick-oven roasting." And then, of course, there's the vino. Each meal can be washed down with one of the 52 wines handpicked by George Miliotes, one of the world's 250 master sommeliers. This sort of gastronomic experience is certainly not what you'd expect from a corporate restaurant (the Miracle Mile hot spot is owned by Darden Restaurants), but serving gourmet dishes is Seasons 52's specialty. And with no dish on the menu exceeding $30 and 475 calories, you can indulge without going broke or having to hit the gym afterward.

Readers' choice: Eating House

Best Restaurant in the Design District/Midtown

Proof Pizza & Pasta

Question: What do you get when three guys with no pizza-making experience open a Neapolitan-style pizza and pasta joint?

Answer: You get unusual pies topped with oxtail, house-made mozzarella, black garlic, thyme, and caramelized onions ($14). Sound weird? It is, but it works, as does the crab angel-hair pasta with Calabrian chili and lemon breadcrumbs. Those two items are staples, but everything else at Proof Pizza & Pasta is a surprise that depends upon what chef and owner Justin Flit (who was a sous-chef at Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak) has seasonally available. Take, for instance, the colossal macaron ice-cream sandwich, a heavenly creation that changes flavors the first of every month. The consistency at Proof is provided by the from-scratch pasta and 00-grade dough, which is tossed into a wood-burning oven for no more than 90 seconds, complying with Neapolitan standards. And because nothing on the menu exceeds $20, it's the kind of place you can afford to frequent every night — as long as you work off all those carbs during the day, of course.

Readers' choice: Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

Niu Kitchen's plate-glass door is a portal from downtown to a land of tempranillo and mustard ice cream. Sometimes, when the place is packed, you have to stand with a glass of wine and a grumbling hobo a few steps away. But that's OK. You can admire what's to come. Inside, Niu is unlike anything in the area. Chef-partner Deme Lomas hails from Barcelona and brings with him the creativity that makes that city a jewel of Europe. The pocket-size space has played host to wahoo tartare ($16), house-made botifarra with white bean purée, and a dish called "ous" ($14) — where a pair of poached eggs is hidden in a bowl of potato foam crowned with crisped jamón ibérico and black truffle. After trying it, you'll never want a stale sandwich from a downtown café again.

Readers' choice: Zuma Contemporary Japanese Cuisine

Best Restaurant in North Miami-Dade

Basil Park

Tim Andriola is proof that plant-based diets are marketed all wrong. At Basil Park, the healthful, long-awaited followup to his long-standing Timo, even the most grease-obsessed heathens can get their fill. There are fish tacos packed with mahi-mahi and sour cream. Just don't tell your junk-food-loving companion that the tortillas are made of brown rice and that the tangy cream was culled from cashews. More than a dozen Joyce Farms chickens ($17 half, $30 whole) can be found in a gleaming rotisserie. Whether you opt for your bird to be doused in ají amarillo or a Hawaiian-inspired blend of pineapple, garlic, ginger, and soy, the skin will be just as crisp and unctuous as your favorite fried bird. The only difference is that you won't need a nap after eating it.

For nearly two decades, Philippe Jacquet's Café Pastis has been a benchmark for Miami's bistros and neighborhood restaurants. It seems simple, but it's not. And inside his tiny dining room, which sits next to an even smaller kitchen, Jacquet allows you to eat in your own style. A crisp baguette, for example, can come with a generous smear of duck pâté ($11.50) or decked out as a classic croque-monsieur ($8.50). There are also hints of France's African incursion, such as a link of spicy, fragrant merguez sausage ($23.50) atop a bed of couscous, or chicken tagine, spiced with cumin, plumped apricots, and salty olives ($21.50).

Best Restaurant in Little Havana

Hy Vong

Hy Vong may not seem to fit into cortadito-and-croqueta-packed Calle Ocho, but history extends past the fryer. Like so many Cubans who made Miami their home, owner Tung Nguyen fled a country in turmoil but brought along much of her homeland's greatness. Take her spring rolls outside and wolf them down while sitting on neon plastic stools and it's as though you're sitting on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. The cha gio have crisp, brittle shells containing a blistering hot pork-and-mushroom filling. The bánh cuôn's rice rolls are made fresh to order, packed with pork and sprinkled with sweet fried onions. So take a seat, and trade that mojo marinade for a splash of funky fish sauce. You won't regret it.

Kris Wessel's beloved barbecued shrimp are back. Inspired by his daughter's gluten sensitivity, the James Beard-nominated chef set out to offer his Florida, Caribbean, and New Orleans flavors without the much-maligned protein. It wasn't easy. Even the Worcestershire in the barbecue sauce at his now-shuttered Red Light Little River contained the stuff. But he has done it at Oolite. There's a rich mac 'n' cheese ($7) with cornflour noodles alongside crisp arepas filled with fried green tomato ($9). His curried goat ($22) could be the pride of Haiti, and all the richness is cut thanks to an infusion of guava in the hearty gravy. So much for boring gluten-free food.

Readers' choice: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®