Finding a quality Chinese place in Miami is almost as hard as finding a worthy slice of pizza — it's difficult but not impossible. That's why the Magic City should be forever grateful to chef Richard Hales, the owner of a handful of local restaurants including Blackbrick Chinese in Midtown. For years, Hales has maintained the restaurant's goal of offering simple, delicious, and affordable food. Serving some of the city's best shrimp and scallop dumplings ($8), explosive chili chicken wings ($15), and General Tso's (made with Florida gator) doesn't hurt either ($27). Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Readers' choice: Tropical Chinese

Kon Chau
Maureen Aimee Mariano

Even when it's ripping hot in the middle of the summer, dim sum fiends seek out the soup dumplings ($4.25) at Kon Chau Chinese Restaurant. On busy Saturday mornings, packs of diners push aside the shiny chive shrimp dumplings ($4.25) and crispy taro cakes ($3.40) in favor of these favorites. They come four to an order, so you'll probably need two rounds. A quick word of advice: Punch a little hole into the dumplings and let some of the soup drain into the foil cup. Drink that, splash the whole thing with some of the vinegary dipping sauce, and go to town. Don't forget about the pork pies ($3.40) with savory little nuggets of char siu wrapped inside buttery puff pastry. After you try those, you'll know why crowds stand in line outside a rundown West Miami-Dade strip mall on weekend mornings. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

Sushi by Bou
Photo courtesy of Sushi by Bou

This six-seat New York City omakase sushi import is a reason for locals to return — if only briefly — to Ocean Drive. It's situated on the top floor of the former Versace mansion in an intimate hideaway. Once seated in a soft leather seat, you'll get to knock down about a dozen pieces of nigiri, individually set before you on a gold-rimmed Versace logo plate. Enjoy tuna in all its iterations — akami, chu-toro, and the fatty o-toro — as well as striped jack, Hokkaido scallop, sea urchin, and marinated ikura, otherwise known as salmon roe. Make a reservation with friends for a special occasion: The luxe, 17-course omakase experience costs $125 per person. Hours are 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday.

Readers' choice: Katsuya South Beach

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 karaage ($5.50) and the opportunity to sample a chef's choice sushi platter. Calm your California roll cravings for a moment and order the battera, a traditional pressed mackerel dish ($8.50), as well as a roll filled with the sweet gourd known as kampyo ($3.50). Bonafides secured, you're now ready to dive into the sweet shrimp served with its head, Japanese sea urchin, and needlefish when it's in season. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Best Secret Lounge
Juan Fernando Ayora

Brad Kilgore's Design District lounge, Kaido, has a secret. Behind a false wall lies Ama, a hidden gem accessible only with a guide who escorts guests into a small boxlike room where they're instructed to refrain from taking pictures. After they agree, guests are given access to this small bar named after female pearl divers in Japan. The bar specializes in Japanese whisky and sodas, presented in a tall glass with a precise cylinder of ice. The intimate, $120 "amakase" dinner that follows is by reservation only. It's chef Kilgore's own interpretation of omakase dining. The bar, which grants entry by a strict reservation-only policy, also offers bartender Nico DeSoto's upscale take on the humble pickleback: Japanese whisky followed by a glass of chilled shiitake broth. Hours are by reservation only beginning at 7 p.m.

Jaya at the Setai
Photo by CandaceWest.com

When Jaya at the Setai relaunched in 2016, executive chef Vijayudu Veena — then an executive sous-chef — aimed to offer guests an expanded menu that went beyond what American customers typically think of as Asian food. In addition to offering Japanese bento boxes, Veena suggested adding an Indian thali to the menu. It was a clever move considering no other collection of small Indian dishes of comparable quality was available in Miami Beach at that time. Jaya still offers guests a thali with rotating ingredients in addition to a survey of Asia's best but lesser-known dishes. Take, for instance, the nasi goreng ($31), a staple of Indonesia with fried rice, chicken, and shrimp tossed in chili sambal and crowned with a sunny-side-up egg and peanut relish. Or try the Peking duck ($39), scallop truffle dumplings ($24), or sea bass tikka ($36) to expand your palate. Hours are 7 to 11 a.m., noon to 3 p.m., and 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 to 11 a.m., noon to 3 p.m., and 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 7 to 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Plaza Seafood Market
Zachary Fagenson

If there's a line forming below the bright-blue awning outside this hybrid market and quick-service spot, you know something good is cooking. Get in line and be sure to shout loud enough so the people working the window can hear you above the racket of a half-dozen men cutting and cleaning fish. The classic minuta de pargo ($9.50) is a solid place to start before moving onto a heap of jumbo shrimp in a sweet, tangy Creole sauce ($16). And while you're at Plaza Seafood Market, you might as well pick up a fried grouper steak with tostones ($13.50) and fish-and-shrimp-stuffed empanadas ($3) for later. Oh, and you'll need provisions for the week, right? Take your pick of conch from across the Caribbean, all types of snapper, kingfish, cobia, grouper, shrimp, and octopus. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Captain Jim's Seafood Market & Restaurant
Photo by Michael Campina

It's tough to stay afloat in the restaurant world: It's a cutthroat, low-margin business with plenty of risks. Keeping Captain Jim's — the iconic North Miami seafood spot that opened in the mid-'90s — above water took nearly a year of work and cost more than $300,000. Yet it was all worth it to David Garcia (of La Camaronera fame), who purchased the place in 2018. It was a rare chance to keep a piece of Miami history alive, but doing so required gutting the place, re-outfitting the kitchen, and bringing on a new kitchen crew that could re-create the menu's classics just as the regulars like them. Somehow he succeeded, and dishes such as conch fritters ($10.99), corvina Français ($21.99), and key lime pie ($5.99) remain favorites of Captain Jim's guests. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Bourbon Steak by Michael Mina
Photo courtesy of JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa

This long-standing spot tucked into the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort has long attracted carnivorous pilgrims from across South Florida. But before diving face-first into a platter of sizzling beef, it's best to step back and think about the best way to do dinner here. That means ordering the lobster potpie ($95). The Michael Mina signature is presented tableside in a glittering copper pan capped with golden puff pastry. Sit back as a server punches through it using a pair of spoons, releasing the intoxicating aroma of brandied lobster cream and truffles. It's enough to knock you out of your chair, but hold on tight. With your senses back in order, remember to request the 32-ounce porterhouse steak ($95). While everyone else is enamored with the lobster and truffles, sneakily snatch the fattiest, best-cooked pieces of steak and make your plate the world's most enviable example of surf and turf. Hours are 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Readers' choice: Prime 112

Best Restaurant Worth the Drive

Dune

Dune
Nick Garcia Photography

A 30-minute drive north is a small price to pay for paradise. Muted tones accessorized with lush greenery make the Fort Lauderdale restaurant Dune a Zen-like getaway. Dune is the East Coast newbie for luxury brand Auberge Resorts Collection, best known for its Michelin-starred Napa Valley restaurant, Auberge du Soleil. Much like its West Coast sister restaurant, Dune draws inspiration from its seaside setting. Dishes such as red snapper with rock shrimp, fennel, leek, and saffron ($33) elevate traditional seafood offerings. If meat is your thing, the lamb with sumac, charred cucumber, and tzatziki sauce ($29) and prime Delmonico rib-eye served with Yukon gold potato purée, béarnaise, and watercress ($45) are unique enough to warrant the drive to Broward. Maybe take a ridesharing service, though — a wide selection of Californian wines is available by the bottle or glass. Though Dune is in Fort Lauderdale, you can get a taste of Napa Valley there too. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®