Best Bagels 2020 | Zak the Baker | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Platonic Studios / Courtesy of Zak the Baker

The question hung for years like a dense fog. "Do you serve bagels?" they would ask while standing in a line that sometimes stretched out of the bakery's door and wrapped around its graffiti-splashed façade. For years, Zak Stern's answer was no. Then one day in late 2019, Stern was there in a sunny corner of the bakery flipping circles of dough into hulking pots of boiling water spiked with honey. He spent months figuring out how to get onion flakes to stick and how to ensure each bagel had the burnished red-brown hue indicating a perfect bake. Eventually he got it, and despite the pandemic you can still cop a half dozen for nine bucks, or one split and slicked with cream cheese and a few slices of smoked salmon for $12.50. It was a long time coming, but baby, it was worth the wait.

Courtesy of El Bagel

El Bagel began as a labor of love and, despite its wild success, it remains so today. In the early days, founder Matteson Koche was determined to create the perfect bagel that was affordable, free of preservatives, and suitable for Miami's humid climate, which isn't always ideal for baking bagels. The result was a doughy treat that quickly gained a cult-like following. Koche focuses on quality, giving his food the attention and care it needs so he can serve up the best breakfast sandwiches at a reasonable price ($7.50 to $12.50). Everything is made fresh, so it's not rare for the shop to close early after it's sold out its inventory for the day. In addition to classic items, like the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich ($10) or a BLT ($9), El Bagel offers the kind of breakfast bagels you never knew you needed, like the King Guava ($10), which comes covered in guava marmalade. The shop is limited to takeout for now, but you can order online and pick up your breakfast before taking a nice walk along Biscayne Bay.

Adam Larkey
Social Club's bar

Located in the Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel, The Social Club is an ideal spot to indulge in brunch. With an incredible view, versatile menu, handcrafted cocktails, and bottomless specials, it's no wonder The Social Club is a beloved spot. The restaurant takes a creative spin on American classics, serving up dishes like cinnamon waffles ($14) and dry-aged burgers topped with truffle Thousand Island dressing ($19). The Social Club adds a personal, inventive touch to brunch dishes you already love, which makes its menu suitable for either sharing or individual courses. Beyond the food and cocktails, the atmosphere creates a backdrop of excitement and brightness. With a terrace view of Collins Avenue, it's the perfect spot to sip a mimosa and relax. As it navigates the pandemic, the restaurant is taking extra cleaning and sanitizing precautions and offering socially distanced seating. The Social Club is also available for delivery or pick up, so you can recreate your own boozy brunch in your living room or on your patio.

Whether you sit down or take your dumplings to-go, this pint-size spot has you covered with two varieties of xiao long bao (AKA Shanghai soup dumplings) sure to please and burn the palate of any one of your friends or family. Stay classic with pork or step things up with an octet of steamy little purses filled with the sweet perfume of crab meat ($10). The aim, if you take them to go, is to get them home once they've cooled a bit — but not too much. Safely away from judging eyes, you can pierce the little pouches, releasing their glossy broth for your sipping enjoyment. You're at home, so feel free to slurp as loud as you like. Nor must you contain the pain of an inevitable burn. Then move on to little fried purses filled with pork and pak choi or a bowl of blistering hot mapo tofu ($7). Be sure to bring home a sweet taro bubble tea ($4) to cool things down.

Photo by Tessa Levy

It's been a long morning. First there was the guy who brought back his Rolex Presidential complaining about a scratch. You saw his pictures on Instagram. What did he think was going to happen wakeboarding? Then there was the couple who wanted Cartier love bracelets, the ones with diamond, but didn't want to pay for them. Some days it'd be easier to hawk lychees on the side of a road. Thankfully, beloved Israeli chef Einat Admony's Motek Café sits on the ground floor of the Seybold Building and in this bright (but not jewelry-case-bright) space, you can relax with the flaky Yemeni flatbread called malawach ($9.95), a simple plate of hummus with pita ($8.95), or the heftier Arayes burger ($16.95) in which juicy Lebanese spiced beef is given a hard char on the grill, then packed into a pita. Eat slow, because afterward it's back to the diamond mines.

Photo courtesy of J. Wakefield Brewing

When Johnathan Wakefield opened his Wynwood brewery, there was already a buzz. The young brewer mounted a crowdfunding campaign to raise $55,000 and surpassed that goal within a day. The brewery is known for its sours, Berliner Weisse-style beers brewed with local fruits. Wakefield is fiercely proud of the fact that his 15-barrel brew house is completely independently owned and operated in a city that is rapidly filling with taprooms owned by the corporate players. Despite its small size, J. Wakefield is renowned among beer aficionados the world over, who flock to the Star Wars-themed taproom for its core brews and special releases. Wakefield is truly Miami in a glass.

Any restaurant can knock a few bucks off the house wine and well booze and call it "happy hour." But Doraku elevates the drinks door-buster to a new level. Every day from 5 to 7 p.m. — weekends included! — this Lincoln Road staple shows everyone else how its done. Four dollars gets you actual food like kurobuta sausage, crispy pig ears, and salmon harami. Another $4 buys you a Wynwood Brewing Co. La Rubia on draft. For $6, you can get a salmon or tuna roll, a margarita, sangria, or a lychee martini. Seven bucks buys you vegetable tempura, spicy-tuna rice, or shots of Ketel One or Don Julio. In other words, if you have a Hamilton in your pocket, you can actually get a drink and food. If you're holding a Jackson, you can feast. Doraku may actually be the best deal in all of South Beach. Happy hour offered daily (except holidays) from 5 to 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Grails

Sneakerheads have a place to call their own thanks to Grails Sports Bar in Wynwood. Co-owned by Cocktail Cartel, Miami-based beverage consultants with a serious love of all things sports and sneakers, this sports bar was created with fanatics in mind. The bar's name is an ode to sneaker collectors ("grails" being that one pair you'd do anything to get). Not surprisingly, plenty of sneakers are on display here, including the coveted "Back to the Future" Nike MAG and the Air Jordan ceramic replicas used to serve the menu's most popular cocktail, "Satisfy Your Sole," made with vodka, lime, watermelon, lemon verbena, and ginger ($14). All the cocktails are similarly topnotch, and the food is more elevated than you might expect — think cheeseburger dumplings ($13) or poke nachos ($18). When it comes time to actually watch the sports, over 60 TV monitors adorn the indoor and outdoor spaces, broadcasting every possible game or match with nary a bad seat to be found. For big pay-per-view events, there's often a one-price open-bar option. True to Wynwood's aesthetic, the many murals at Grails are constantly updated to reflect what's currently happening in the wide world of sports — whether it's Miami's Super Bowl LIV, the tragic loss of Mamba, or tributes to our very own Miami Heat.

Photo courtesy of the Mighty

A great neighborhood bar must possess three primary features: stiff drinks, affordable grub, and friendly bartenders who double as therapists. And that's precisely what you'll find at the Mighty. Since opening its doors in 2014, the tavern on Coral Way has become a favorite among locals and transients alike, undoubtedly because the vibe is all about making you feel at ease. It's the kind of joint where you can belly up to the bar in sweatpants and flip-flops and feel perfectly at home — a phenomenon that's all too rare at this town's posh bars and over-the-top eateries. While the atmosphere is no-frills, bar bites are pleasantly elevated. Nosh on deep-fried cauliflower tossed in an Asian sesame glaze ($12) or opt for the "Guava Burger, brimming with bacon and a guava sauce with cream cheese and white chocolate (trust us on this one!). For the quintessential Mighty experience, pair your eats with a house cocktail — say, the "Silver Bluff Southside," crafted with berry-infused gin, mint, lime, blueberry, and strawberry ($12). You'll feel right at home — if your home served delicious food and great drinks.

Photo by Chelsea Olson

Let's put it this way: Ted's had a pink neon scripted sign way before it was trendy. The bar has been an iconic South Beach institution for over 30 years and is still open despite all the havoc that COVID-19 has wreaked on the industry. At Ted's, there's something comforting in the familiarity of the stale smells and dingy lighting, the random games of pool with strangers, the jukebox wars, and the familiar faces of bartenders. If you're craving some dive bar nostalgia, you can order bar snacks like mozzarella sticks ($9.75), Ted's Tex-Mex Nachos ($11.75), or the classic Hideaway Burger ($12.75) for eat-in or delivery. Ted's also has a variety of beers by the bottle ($6 to $9), wines by the bottle ($32), mini liquor bottles ($11 to $18), and one-liter liquor bottles ($45 to $110) available to go. Leave it to Ted's to still manage to deliver a shot and a beer to us during a global pandemic. We love them for it.

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Best Of Miami®