La Traila Barbecue
Photo by Andrea Grieco

Miami barbecue hit a home run with La Traila, a former pop-up that transitioned to a brick-and-mortar location earlier this year. Founded by Austin native and pit master Mel Rodriguez and Miami native/Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, the Miami Lakes restaurant offers up 305-inspired craft barbecue at its finest. Meats are available by the pound, from smoked pulled pork and the house jalapeño cheddar sausage to "dino" beef ribs and Texas-style brisket. Latin twists come into focus in specialty items like the pork spare rib croquettes and dishes that nod to Rodriguez's Mexican heritage. In particular, the Tex-Mex-inspired Brisket y Queso empanadas and Texas Frito Pie are not to be missed. But the most alluring menu item might be the Brisket Sundae, a fair-food-and-taco-stand mashup presented as a cup layered with mac and cheese, baked beans, and creamed corn, then topped with smoked brisket, cotija cheese, crema, and house sauce. Vegans will enjoy the All Natural — smoked pulled jackfruit finished with pickles and onions and tossed in a house-made barbecue sauce. Up early? La Traila's breakfast tacos will start your day right.

The Lincoln Eatery
The Lincoln Eatery

The indulgent lobster-and-cheese grits from C Food Shack Miami give new meaning to the term "food coma." The dish arrives steaming: three-cheese grits topped with tender fried crawfish bits smothered in a homemade sofrito gravy and pico de gallo. The only place to get it? The Lincoln Eatery. Located just steps from Miami Beach's famed pedestrian shopping area, this 10,000-square-foot grab-and-go market concept offers a casual respite from the high-end, overpriced establishments nearby. But it's the selection of more than a dozen artisan vendors — like C Food Shack — that makes it truly special. Each place is unique to the market, offering an authentic homegrown taste of Miami. So whether you're craving a vegan burger from Plant Theory, sushi pizza from Tyo Sushi, a ceviche platter from Cilantro 27, or towering cake- and candy-topped milkshakes from the Market Milkshake Bar, this is the only place you'll find it. The cherry on top (pun intended) might be the eatery's rooftop terrace, Sky Yard, which is open Thursday through Sunday nights.

Pao by Paul Qui
CandaceWest.com

One of the most striking features of this chef's namesake restaurant isn't the view into the open kitchens or the oceanfront vista just outside, but the $6.5 million statue of a golden unicorn by Damien Hirst. It's mirrored by the extravagant $32 unicorn that you can actually eat — a spike-wielding sea urchin resting on a bed of tri-colored grilled sweet corn flavored with chile de árbol and a heady sake aioli. Pair it with the piña colada/Moscow mule mix that arrives in a solid copper unicorn-shaped goblet for a magical experience. Across Miami are dozens of fancy hotels anchored by fancy restaurants helmed by big-name chefs. But none are quite like Faena's Paul Qui, a Manila-born chef who quickly climbed the ranks to culinary stardom after a 2011 Top Chef win followed by a James Beard Best Chef: Southwest award. Since 2015, Qui has offered his unique modern Asian cuisine at Pao; playful takes on Filipino dishes nod to Japanese, Spanish and French fare, from the signature kinilaw (a Filipino-style hamachi ceviche in a Thai chile- and vinegar-spiked coconut-milk leche de tigre) to the fried chicken brined in fish sauce for an umami punch. But no matter how you slice the popular Wagyu tenderloin adobo — or any dish here, for that matter — one thing is certain: This is the work of a classically trained chef who can uplift even uni to unicorn status.

No matter if the good weather decides to stick around, there's one corner of Miami where it's perennially summer: Seaspice. The scene at the airy white boathouse rumored to have been owned by the billionaire founder of Trans World Airlines, Howard Hughes, is straight out of Saint-Tropez. Sure, it would be great to get away to the French Riviera, but Seaspice's outdoor patio along the Miami River is a wonderful place to nosh onMediterranean-inspired fare like octopus carpaccio, ceviche, and seafood risotto while sippingsignature cocktails like the "As Good As It Gets" and the "Beckham's Club." Sit back, relax, and dream as you watch 60-foot yachts drop off their owners for a decadent meal.

Marea 1939
Photo courtesy of Marea 1939

Start with the fact that this signature Spanish restaurant, run byexecutive chef Sergio Chamizo,is located in the iconic National Hotel Miami Beach. Add that this historic property has recently been reinvented as an adults-only resort. Then throw in the design, which offers a choice between art deco inside and tropical landscaping on the outdoor terrace. There's your recipe. Now, let's eat. Dine on charcuterie and tapasor share any of the four rice dishes for two. Or split a whole oven-baked dorado. Any way you look at it, with no minors on the scene and the Miami moon rising overthe infinity pool, all meals here lead to true romance.

Mike's at Venetia
Photo courtesy of Mike's at Venetia

In a city rife with upscale, overpriced, over-dressed rooftop options, Mike's at Venetia is the poor man's take on sky-high views, with a side of seriously laid-back. This longtime Irish dive bar on the roof of an apartment building near the Venetian Causeway offers an uber-casual vibe thanks to its ninth-floor perch overlooking Biscayne Bay and the downtown Miami skyline. It's the perfect spot to put away a few happy hour beers and some equally affordable fried pub fare, all while relishing the fact that you didn't spend half your paycheck just to be a few extra feet above sea level. If you're looking for more of a mood, Mike's has that, too. You can go fancy with a date and a meal of steamed mussels and rib-eye steak or watch your favorite local team on one of Mike's two dozen TVs. Keep this place in mind whenever you want all of the above minus the dress code, overpriced everything, and a parade of Insta model photo shoots.

Marisquería Como Como
Photo by Michael Kleinberg

Given our weather, raw bars and seafood joints are perfect for the Miami lifestyle. Add a Mexican coastal inflection, like chef Scott Linquist does at Como Como, and we just fall head over palate. Located at Moxy South Beach, Como Como, brought to us by the team behind Coyo Taco and 1-800-LUCKY, reinterprets the multifarious cuisine of Mexico's coastline with dishes like oysters dressed with a variety of special "aguas," house-smoked fish dip, and daily selections of fish and seafood charred over the restaurant's centerpiece fuego — a fire station forged out of copper and wrought iron — including a whole boneless branzino marinated with achiote, oranges, habaneros, and oregano wrapped in a banana leaf, or whole butterflied snapper served open-face with two marinades: jalapeño cilantro garlic butter and ancho chile garlic butter. You'll never want to go-go to anywhere but Como Como again.

Cote Miami
Photo by Gary He

According to Cote owner Simon Kim, steakhouses should be more fun. So he created Cote, a concept that combines the fun and excitement of Korean barbecue with the upscale ambience of a traditional New York steakhouse. Here the focus is on prime meats, each grilled at the table Korean barbecue-style. The Miami menu mirrors the NYC flagship's selection of American and A5 Japanese Wagyu sourced from the Miyazaki prefecture; cuts are dry-aged for a minimum of 45 days in the restaurant's red-light dry-aging room and seasoned with a proprietary blend of British Maldon salt, Himalayan pink salt, and Korean thousand-day sea salt. If you like your steak rare, you'll get a chance to see it in all its marbled glory; each table is fitted with its own smokeless grill, and dry-aged cuts are presented raw before being cooked to order. In a change of pace from heavier steakhouse sides, meats are served alongside light pickled vegetables and a variety of Korean condiments, from the house kimchi to a ssamjang dipping sauce used in lettuce wraps. In true steakhouse form, the full menu includes shareable appetizers, including a wedge salad, steak tartare, shrimp cocktail and full caviar service. Feeling fancy? Try Kim's favorite, the "Butcher's Feast" — a selection of four different meats served with an assortment of the restaurant's savory sides, pickled vegetables, rice, and dessert.

Holi Vegan Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Holi Vegan Kitchen

If Holi Vegan Kitchen had a motto, it would be "Anything you can cook, I can cook vegan —and better." The casual eatery offers a list of everything you could want to eat, only vegan. Tacos? Check! Quesadilla? Check! Burgers? Four different kinds, to be exact (a Beyond burger, an Impossible burger, a black bean burger and a lentil burger — $13 to $16). Holi has meatball heroes, Italian sausage sandwiches, pizzettas, pancakes, and scrambles. Everything is made to order, so it's fresh and delicious. And if you want to go the "healthy vegan" route, Holi's got you covered with smoothies, salads, bowls, and fresh-pressed juices. So take your carnivorous bestie and see what they think: You might just have a new date for Meatless Monday.

Le Jardinier
Photo courtesy of Le Jardinier

Searching for cooking that has breadth and depth at once? This is your place. Michelin-starred chef Alain Verzeroli's menu includes constant refreshes of straightforward vegetarian dishes that are remarkable in their fresh simplicity. Maybe today is the day for summer gazpacho, made with avocado, a sweet dash of Bing cherries, and a creamy layer of fresh ricotta? Or a plate of summer corn tortellini, crowned with chanterelle mushrooms and hazelnuts to savor over a mix of chamomile-infused tequila blanco, green chartreuse, ginger, and lemon? It's all good. The interior is a nod to the Design District's sleekness — a nice stretch of bar, an outdoor dining area done in white and green, and a fancy, light-filled interior. The best part is the intimate outdoor space, which is open on warm summer evenings allowing you to experience Miami's epicenter of trendiness from a serene and satiated remove.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®