Nashville hot chicken is the centerpiece of the menu at Bird & Bone.
Photo by CandaceWest.com
Nashville hot chicken is the centerpiece of the menu at Bird & Bone.

Chef/restaurateur Richard Hales has long been known for his Asian-fusion restaurants. After a road trip through the Southern United States left him obsessed with Nashville hot chicken, country ham, and skillet cornbread, Hales opened Bird & Bone, a Miami Beach eatery serving his unique takes on those classics, inside the Confidante hotel. His hot chicken, for instance, is made with local birds that are brined for juiciness and then dry-aged for three days (much like a Peking duck). The fried pieces are drizzled with Chinese hot mustard and honey and served on Zak the Baker bread. Enjoy your meal on a beautiful patio with the gentle sound of the nearby waves crashing on the sand for one soulful evening meal. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Ono Poke Shop
Courtesy of Ono Poke Shop

Eating inexpensively is difficult in Miami, where a cheeseburger can set you back 20 bucks. Factor in eating healthy and delicious, and you have a dilemma. Ono Poke has got your back. This small Wynwood shop, resplendent in bright pinks and greens, serves a small menu of food that's delectable and well priced. Ono offers basically one thing — a poke bowl ($13 to $16). But that bowl, customized to your liking, is filled with only really good stuff. The fish — the prize ingredient of a good poke bowl — is made with high-quality sushi-grade fish that's never frozen. In fact, the shop closes when it runs out of seafood for the day. Customize your bowl with rice, greens, ginger, pickled cucumbers, or other delicious toppings until your container looks as colorful as a Hawaiian garden after a rain. The result is the most heavenly lunch that also happens to be nutritious. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, but the shop closes early when it sells out of fish.

Best Waterfront Restaurant
Courtesy of the Genuine Hospitality Group

Michael Schwartz's latest restaurant is beautifully set on Biscayne Bay. Located in Miami's Edgewater neighborhood, the 4,500-square-foot dining room boasts indoor and outdoor seating, all with a waterfront view. The James Beard Award-winning chef, best known for his Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, calls Amara at Paraiso a "love letter to Miami." But the restaurant offers more than an exceptional location — the food is equally satisfying. The menu includes Latin American-influenced dishes cooked using a wood grill and a Josper charcoal oven. Standouts include crispy octopus with braised yucca ($21) and a parrillada of short rib, chorizo, sweet breads, and steak. Hours are 6 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Hiden
Bien / Showa Hospitality

Inside the Taco Stand in Wynwood, a small silver keypad hangs next to a bare copper wall. Enter a secret code, and the wall becomes a sliding door. It opens slowly and carefully, revealing a covert room fit for no more than ten people. This is Hiden, a mysterious omakase restaurant where $130 will get you 15 courses of fish flown in from Japan. Dining here requires reservations. Once you book a meal, you receive a four-digit code granting access to the private sushi den. Walk through the taco joint, blaring with mariachi music and steaming with the aroma of freshly fried tortillas, toward the back of the restaurant, where the copper door beckons. There are no menus. Your meal will be in the hands of Brazilian-Japanese executive chef Tadashi Shiraishi, who will decide what to serve only hours before your arrival. Traditionally, he offers two cold appetizers, a soup, seven to eight sushi courses, a hot item, and dessert. The two-hour experience is limited to eight diners, and seatings are at 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday through Sunday.

Stiltsville Fish Bar
Photo by CandaceWest.com

Before Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis were Miami restaurant royalty, they set sail on a fishing trip from South Beach late one sunny afternoon in fall 2013. The blond Barbie and Ken look-alikes motored west toward Stiltsville and kissed for the first time. Nearly five years later, McInnis and Booth are behind Sunset Harbour's Stiltsville Fish Bar, which opened in 2015. Housed inside a quaint 1940s structure, the warm, nautically inspired space is a lovely reminder of that fall afternoon. This is the place to bring your love, order the "big fish for two"($50 to $65), and gaze toward the Sunset Harbour dock. You might just find the same kind of luck Booth and McInnis found. Try Stiltsville Fish Bar from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight Friday and Saturday. It is also open from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Best Intimate Dining
CandaceWest.com
Nantucket bay scallops aguachile

At Three, Mango Gang legend Norman Van Aken cooks his signature Florida fusion cuisine in a sleek and tropical space. The staff is disciplined, and the food is topnotch. But even more spectacular is the space. It's outfitted with midcentury modern furnishings such as royal-blue velvet chairs and gold-trimmed black tables. An impressive Frida Kahlo portrait hangs adjacent to a marble bar facing an open kitchen. Tables are streamlined and allow for diners to spread out while remaining close. Customers dining in pairs should opt for the three-course experience ($65 per person). Or leave it up to Van Aken and chef de cuisine Juan Garrido to choose the menu for a five-course tasting menu ($90 per person). Hours are 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, noon to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 11 p.m. Thursday, noon to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Panorama

On the eighth floor of the Sonesta resort in Coconut Grove, gaze out at Biscayne Bay while snacking on upscale Peruvian food. Nestled on a quiet street, the restaurant is as a retreat for locals and tourists alike from morning till night. The expansive patio is filled with low-slung lounge chairs and tables. Food varies throughout the day, from continental breakfast offerings in the morning to more sophisticated Latin American-influenced items in the evening. Panorama's ceviches are a crowd favorite. Try the tuna Nikkei with garlic marinade or the traditional with corvina and lime juice ($15 and up). Then just enjoy the view. It is spectacular. Panorama is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

La Camaronera Seafood Joint and Fish Market
Courtesy of La Camaronera

If you like seafood, La Camaronera should be your new favorite fish spot. The entire menu is seafood, from the shrimp empanadas and grouper soup to breaded lobster and fried whole fresh fish of the day. It's all thanks to the Garcia brothers; 11 of them were born into a family of fishermen in the province of Las Villas, Cuba. As the story goes, they helped their father to learn the trade — everything from catching to cleaning — and support the family. Since 1966, that same tradition continues in Miami, when Garcia Brothers Seafood was established. Once operating a fish market and wholesaler, the Garcias grew their biz into a restaurant in 1976 with the addition of a few deep fryers and a U-shaped counter where customers would line up sans seats to enjoy Cuban fish fry at its best. Sure, there are plenty of places in the Magic City to get a fried-fish sandwich, but it probably won't taste as good as the original snapper pan con minuta (market price). Forty years later, come lunch time, the dining room is still standing room only, full of patrons hungry for the house specialty, camarones fritos, the restaurant's famous fried shrimp ($9.55).

Grumpy Greg's BBQ
Courtesy of Grumpy Greg's BBQ

Miami barbecue is an amorphous beast. While other cities and states are dedicated to one cut of meat, one sauce, or one style of smoking, the 305's fare is like the city's population, drawing influences from everywhere. Yet no one does barbecue like Greg La Rochelle. For years, he roamed the Florida Keys in a cop car running down bad guys. But back in 2015, he traded in his badge and uniform for piles of meat and a flame-belching smoker. Today he's one of South Florida's barbecue masters and spends weekends roving South Dade farmers markets, plying smoked ribs, salmon, and tender, hard-to-find smoked brisket that boasts a bright red smoke ring and unparalleled juiciness. It's long overdue that Texas-style slow smoke, which spends up to 14 hours in the smoker, has popped up in Miami. Now that it's here, you'll have a hard time ever looking back.

Flava's Miami
Photo by Travis Cohen

When it comes to soul food, Miami rarely gets as much attention as Southern cities such as Atlanta, Charleston, and Nashville, but that doesn't mean there aren't kitchens in the Magic City dishing out proper feel-good Southern fare. You just have to know where to find it. And if you're looking for serious soul food, you need to go to Flava's to get that good good. The shrimp and grits plate ($10.99) comes with a half-dozen tender crustaceans served on a bowl of grits that is neither too mealy nor too soupy and includes a bit of the oil and seasoning from cooking the shrimp. Make sure you also try the chicken and waffles ($9.99) — spicy poultry never tasted so good. Get there early, because Flava's is open only from 7 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, and it's never empty.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®