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.

Swan
Morelli Brothers

For months, musician Pharrell Williams and Miami hospitality entrepreneur David Grutman spoke highly of their joint Design District restaurant, Swan, before it opened — and now we finally understand why. Designed by Ken Fulk, the restaurant is showered in pink and white and boasts a large center bar glowing in gold and marble tones. When Williams first spoke with New Times about the restaurant, he said, "The DNA of Swan is feminine. You can't make something good without having that energy. Women are finally having their moment, and I would never have it any other way." Make a reservation here with your special someone, let the pink interior calm you, and dine on French-American classics by celebrity chef Jean Imbert. That's surely enough to win over your lover. Hours are noon to 3 p.m. and 6 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday.

800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen
Ruben Cabrera

The Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem have traded basketball for pizza and beer at their new restaurant, 800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen. Created through a partnership between Woodfired Kitchen founder/chef Anthony Carron and the two NBA champions, the restaurant specializes in food cooked over an open flame, from wood-oven pizza to rotisserie chicken, cheeseburgers, ribs, and fresh fish. As the first Florida outpost of the Woodfired chain, the Aventura restaurant deviates slightly from other locations, which dot the nation and the world, including Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Dubai. Here, Wade and Haslem have added unique touches to the menu. Among them are Haslem's baked-not-fried UD's Woodfired wings, made with a base of semispicy Calabrian chilies and served with creamy Gorgonzola dip ($14, or $7 during happy hour). Pair a plate with a local brew, such as Funky Buddha's Floridian or Veza Sur's Mango Blonde Ale. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Best Fried Chicken
Photo courtesy of Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant

Joe's Stone Crab is arguably Miami Beach's most famous restaurant. A sprawling seafood palace, the restaurant attracts heads of state, celebrities, and your Uncle Bob — all who come for the restaurant's stone crabs. Sure, those crustaceans are tasty, but do you know what's even better? A heaping plate of Joe's crisp, golden fried chicken. Each piece is sheer perfection — crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Peel off a piece of breading to catch the aroma. See the gentle puff of steam wafting from that tender breast. Bite into that plump thigh. It's food porn for the well-heeled. The best part? A half chicken costs just $6.95. That's not a typo. Joe's fried chicken actually costs less than an order of fries ($8.95) at the restaurant. The only thing cheaper than a plate of fragrant, warm, soulful fried chicken is a Diet Coke. So go ahead and let everyone have their crabs. You're in on Joe's real secret. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (October through June), 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, and 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Joe's closes yearly from mid-July through early October. (Exact dates vary and are announced a few days in advance.)

Readers' choice: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Ella's Oyster Bar
CandaceWest.com

When you think of an oyster bar, you generally think of wood-panelled shacks by the sea with fishnets and a wooden pirate for decor. Ella's is basically the opposite: A clean, sophisticated spot right in the middle of bustling Calle Ocho, it's a place to take a break from the heat and slurp up a dozen cool, crisp oysters. Get there between noon and 7 p.m. for oyster happy hour, when select varieties cost only $1.25. Need to brush up on your oyster knowledge? Sit at the bar and let your friendly shucker explain the subtle nuances among the bivalves. Wash them down with a local beer before going in for a lobster roll ($23), served on a toasted bun so rich and buttery you'll think you died and went to New England. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Sunday and weekdays and noon to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Malibu Farm Miami Beach
Courtesy of Malibu Farm

Inside the Nobu Eden Roc, this California-cool restaurant is reminiscent of the Pacific Coast town for which it's named. With a direct view of the Atlantic Ocean, Malibu Farm offers cauliflower-crust pizza ($22), chicken-ricotta burgers ($21), and watermelon-juice-infused vodka cocktails ($16) — not exactly what you'd expect at a swanky hotel on one of Miami Beach's most historic properties. Created by Los Angeles-based private-chef-turned-restaurateur Helene Henderson, Malibu Farm celebrates ingredient-rich plates and locally sourced items. The restaurant uses bread from Wynwood's Zak the Baker, meat from Larry Kline in Deerfield Beach, and fruits and vegetables from Produce Kingdom in downtown Miami. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The bar remains open an hour later for drinks every night.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®