Estiatorio Ornos a Michael Mina Restaurant
Photo by David Varley for Mina Group

Michael Mina has created two of the most successful steakhouses in Miami. Now, the California-based restaurateur tackles Mediterranean fare with Ornos Estiatoro. The dining room, tinted in hues of blues and whites, resembles a tavern on a Greek island more than a mall restaurant. Whether dining inside or on the spacious outdoor patio, you'll find bright flavors infused with lemon and oregano. Start with a trio of spreads ($19) like tzatziki, hummus, and tirokafteri (whipped feta), while perusing the menu. Mina is known for the way he lovingly treats meats, so the grilled lamb chops ($47) are a succulent bet. But prepare to be tempted by the restaurant's own fish sommelier, who'll wheel over a cart filled with fresh local fish and Mediterranean varieties that are flown in daily. The pièce de resistance at Ornos may be the Maine lobster pasta, a shareable feast that consists of a whole Maine lobster served on a bed of linguine tossed in a slightly piquant sauce of fresh tomatoes, Greek brandy, and oregano ($48). Open Tuesday through Sunday.

The Tipsy Boar
CandaceWest.com

Picture the Cheers bar with 40 beers on tap and a wood-burning pizza oven. Go ahead; we'll wait. OK, you pretty much get the gist of Tipsy Boar. This Hollywood gastropub opened in 2002 and is still going strong thanks to its friendly staff, bartenders who can make a proper cocktail, and a menu of pub favorites. You can't go wrong with chicken wings or a burger but we encourage you to try something more interesting, like the Tipsy Boar burger, made with a boar patty and fresh bacon ($14), or crispy Peking duck wings with apple slaw ($14). Wood-fired pizzas arrive with a nice char and pair well with an IPA or other selection from the ever-rotating taps. Open every day, the Tipsy Boar offers a large, covered patio complete with TV monitors for your game-watching pleasure.

Rivertail
Photo courtesy of Rockaway PR

Miamians know José Mendín as one of the founders of the Pubbelly family of restaurants. The chef has won numerous honors, including "Best Chef Southeast" semifinalist status in the James Beard Awards five times over. Mendín has opened restaurants in Paris, Puerto Rico, and now, with Rivertail, he tackles Fort Lauderdale. The seafood-centric restaurant adheres to a simple philosophy: Offer the freshest fish and seasonal produce in a convivial, waterfront setting. A hamachi crudo ($16) bursts with Florida grapefruit and yuzu, while a Maine lobster roll ($25) is lightened with a hint of lemon zest. Fresh yellowtail, snapper, and other denizens of the sea are offered simply grilled with your choice of sauce. And, as if he almost can't help himself, Mendín offers a pork belly Cuban sandwich ($18), an apparent nod to his start at Pubbelly. Open Tuesday through Sunday.

If you're craving the fiery spices of the West Indies, Balloo is your one-way ticket to the Caribbean — no passport needed. For over a decade, diners have devoured executive chef Timon Balloo's tapas at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Midtown. But the greatest expression of Chef Balloo's abilities is undoubtedly within his simple, unassuming jerk chicken and coconut and pigeon peas rice. A love letter to his West Indian and Chinese heritage, the eponymous concept opened in 2019 touting a unique menu of Caribbean and Asian comfort food. While the bite-sized dining room in downtown's Ingraham Building is closed for service during the pandemic, to-go items and meal kits are available for delivery. Meal kits include easily reheated creations, including roasted jerk chicken, Indian curry chickpea potato stew, and cabbage and pepper slaw with coconut lime dressing, plus seasonal puddings and panna cotta for dessert. Vegetarian options include Indian masala cauliflower, slow-cooked yellow split peas, coconut-creamed spinach, and steamed rice. Prices for the meal kits range from $44 to $88 and vary based on size. The restaurant also sells Caribbean staples like "Wing Wah" Trini pepper sauce and Caribbean sorrel (hibiscus) punch. Orders can be placed via Balloo's website.

Bolivar Restaurant Bar

Amid a Colombian restaurant landscape where so many local gems are tucked in suburban shopping centers and well off the beaten path, Bolivar remains a shining star. The Washington Avenue mainstay first opened its doors in 2007, boasting cuisine from the entire South American continent, curated by Cartagena-bred executive chef and partner Jairo Hurtado. Today, its menu remains equally as diverse, with its Colombian components being absolute must-haves. Among its savory high points are the Calentao Medellín breakfast ($13) with eggs, beans, rice, and a cheese-topped arepa; a massive bandeja paisa ($23) with steak, pork belly, and caramelized plantains; and a build-your-own picada menu ($16 to $52) with more than 22 appetizers to choose from. And, of course, no Colombian experience is complete without a cold Aguila cerveza ($8) or shot of aguardiente ($8). Bolivar's staff greets you with genuine warmth and, if you're looking for a fiesta, the place can get quite bumpin'. Thirteen years into its Miami journey, we're glad Bolivar is still here.

When it comes to Cuban cuisine, there's nothing like abuela's cooking, but Havana Harry's has figured out how to replicate the magic. Going strong for over 25 years, this humble restaurant is home to classic Cuban fare with a few dishes featuring a bit of a twist. The menu is more than a dozen pages long and features something for everyone, no matter how much of a Cuban food purist they may be. Those looking for something simple and dependable can always count on the garlicky shredded chicken breast known as vaca frita de pollo ($12.95); or masitas de puerco, chunks of pork that are slow-cooked for hours, then fried and covered in onions, garlic, and mojo ($14.95). Diners who prefer the wild side should check out the fufu-stuffed churrasco, a 16-ounce grilled churrasco steak stuffed with mashed plantain ($29.95); or thick and juicy barbecued pork chops rendered tender and tangy with a guava barbecue sauce ($15.95). Each entrée is served with two sides — and it's important to note that unlike many Cuban restaurants, white rice and black beans together counts as one side. (We suggest plantains or tostones.) The plates are hearty, but don't skip dessert; some of Miami's best flan can be found on Havana Harry's three-page dessert menu.

BarMeli69
Courtesy of Barmeli69 Greek Bistro & Wine Bar

Cries of tragedy rang out across the Upper Eastside when this homey Mediterranean bistro's owner and namesake Liza Meli closed the original location on Northeast 79th Street. They were soon met with an equal measure of cheers when she moved into the space that used to house Michelle Bernstein's Michy's on Biscayne Boulevard. Here, the bright menu, which includes refreshing comestibles like boquerones ($6), baked halloumi cheese ($14), and grilled patties of ground lamb studded with pistachios ($14), is both eminently affordable and shareable. Yet it's Meli herself who makes the place so special. As the maestra of the space, she's there to welcome you with (currently socially distanced) open arms and guide you through a night with grace, smiles, and more than a shot of ouzo or sambuca.

Ghee Indian Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Ghee

Named by Food & Wine as one of the country's best new chefs of 2020, Niven Patel and his Ghee Indian Kitchen take the pick for best Indian restaurant, a category that is a newcomer to the list this year. While his devout following has been lamenting the abrupt closure of the original Ghee in the Design District this summer, the second location in Downtown Dadeland remains open. Patel's fresh take on traditional Indian favorites has received praise locally and nationally. Fresh produce, herbs, and more from Patel's Homestead farm makes Ghee a literal farm-to-table concept, with noticeable Floridian flair in bright, citrus-forward dishes. You'll want to order one of everything, but some standouts include the Ghost Pepper Cheddar Naan ($8), Yellowfin Tuna Bhel ($16), and turmeric-marinated local fish ($26) in a vibrant coconut curry broth. It takes a certain level of confidence to offer only one dessert, and this is one you won't want to skip: the sticky date cake ($12) served with fresh ginger ice cream and jaggery toffee is the perfect sweet ending to any meal at Ghee.

Café Prima Pasta
Photo courtesy of Cafe Prima Pasta

Since 1993, Cafe Prima Pasta has been dishing up red-sauce classics in a setting that screams traditional Italian restaurant. From the wood floors that are polished yet creak slightly to the framed photos of local celebs who've dined here, the restaurant is welcoming and warm. Order a cocktail and peruse the menu of favorites — like a tender veal piccata or chicken parm that arrives, cheese a-bubbling, from the oven. The dishes may not be "modern" or "innovative," but they're the ones you crave. After all, when you've had a long day, and you're hangry, do you daydream about the quail egg with goat cheese foam or a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs? Thought so. Cafe Prima Pasta also offers family meal packages, so you can treat the clan to red sauce in the comfort of your own home.

The Taco Stand
Luis Meza Lifestyle Group

The ambiance is Mexican street food all the way, from the informal atmosphere to the ice-filled reach-in cooler stocked with cerevezas and refrescos. But it's the corn tortillas, each one hand-pressed and griddled to order, that will draw you back again and again to this pint-size spot on NW 25th Street just west of the Museum of Graffiti. Whether they're wrapped around salty-sweet pork al pastor with pineapple, grassy nopal, or battered fish with cabbage and chipotle (all $3 apiece) the nutty, slightly sweet flavor of warm corn always comes through and delights. The secret here, however, is breakfast. In particular it's the carne asada and egg burrito ($8) or the veg version filled with sauteed cactus, beans, and the creamy, slightly salty cheese called panela ($8). Hangover? Check. Long day ahead? Check. You just can't? Double check. And to think, so much joy for ten bucks! It seems unbelievable, but here it's the real deal.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®