When South Florida restaurateur and Wilton Wings founder Gary Bouvier discovered that the unique space at 1818 East Sunrise Boulevard — the former home of Canyon restaurant beside the Gateway Cinema — was available, he didn't hesitate to pounce. Today, much of the intimate interior remains the same, from the dimly lit ambiance and amber-hued walls to the window-backdrop banquettes and eight-seat bar. What has changed is the focus, with an upscale, European-minded menu created by executive chef/partner Gastón Campaña. Before arriving in South Florida to work at Valentino Cucina and StripSteak by Michael Mina, Campaña traversed the globe, cooking his way across Argentina, Spain, Thailand, and Germany. His travels earned him a wealth of experience, as well as a Michelin star; Gastrothèque will showcase his talents with dishes featuring high-end cuts of beef, pork, and lamb alongside seafood and handmade pasta. While some will rotate seasonally and specials will change weekly, several of Campaña's greatest hits will be permanent fixtures. The Spanish-style octopus is a beautiful plate, with crispy-charred tentacles atop a cloud of whipped potato purée accented with chorizo aioli and studded with dehydrated Kalamata olives. And Campaña's Bolognese is a tangled marvel of handmade fettuccine smothered in a hearty Marsala-spiked sauce that combines long-braised veal, pork, and beef. The icing on this cake might be the fresh-baked, oversized sticky bun the chef recommends for dessert.

Best Restaurant When Someone Else Is Paying

Carbone

Carbone
Photo courtesy of Carbone

You've heard about Carbone. You've seen the famous rigatoni on your Instagram feed. You've heard about the pricey dishes and the month-long wait to snag a reservation. But here's the thing: Carbone is actually worth all the hype. The restaurant is beautiful, the plates are hand-painted in Italy, the waiters are practiced in the old-school art of gently kibitzing, and the rigatoni is everything your friends say it is. So if you have a birthday or anniversary or promotion coming up, there's only one place you want to be taken for your momentous day: Carbone. Start with the best baked clams outside of Brooklyn ($25) before your steaming plate of spicy rigatoni vodka ($33) arrives. Go ahead, take a hundred pictures of the perfect pink pasta before digging into the divine dish. Order another glass of wine — hell, order another bottle. And be sure to end the night with Carbone's homemade limoncello. In short, go crazy: It's your night, someone else has the check, and you've got 100 new Instagram likes.

Best Restaurant to Die in the Past Year
Photo by Michael Pisarri

It was one of the first and most high-profile COVID-related losses, and it hit us hard. Maybe not as hard as it hit chef-proprietors Cindy Hutson and Delius Shirley. But nearly so. After just over two decades of serving high-end Caribbean dishes like Bahamian-style conch chowder, Red Stripe Mediterranean mussels, and jerk-brined T-bone pork chops in Bacardi Oakheart guava sauceto appreciative customers in Coral Gables, Ortanique's "Cuisine of the Sun" set. But because chef Hutson and life partner Shirley pretty much define the word "resilience," there was to be a new dawn and a new day. Hutson signed on to create the menu at the newly opened Cervecería La Tropical in Wynwood. To which we say, as we have throughout the pandemic, gracias a Dios for beer.

Best Foodie Influencer
Photo courtesy of Rachel Samson

A leading force in the realm of local influencers, Rachel Samson has been sticking her fork into all types of edible delights in Miami for the past five years.Loved by hundreds of thousands, she's one to follow if you're in search of fun, easy recipes and pop-ups, bars, and fine restaurants to visit next. Her days scouring the city for new finds are as varied as the melting pot of cuisines she covers — an exciting food journey she showcases through colorful, detailed posts pretty enough that you want to sit back and admire them. Ever seen a doughnut look like a piece of art? Now you have.

Tigre
Photo by Ivan Belaustegui

On the banks of the Little River canal — and surprisingly out of earshot of the honking traffic on Biscayne Boulevard and the 79th Street Causeway — this Argentine restaurant boasts milangas, swordfish steaks, a 36-hour beef rib, and front-row seats to watch manatees and paddleboarders drift idly by. The intimate dining room is a three-dimensional Pinterest board of geometric tiles, whimsical wallpaper, wood paneling, and a curvilinear ceiling. Outside, everything is green: the tiles, the tables, the ferns spilling out of their pots, the bougainvillea that crawls up the trellis. Patrons lucky enough to snag canal-front tables get dinner and an aquatic show starring plummeting seabirds, leaping fish, and sun-kissed fishermen plying their dinghies.

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

Simple ingredients and preparations are the essence of this modern Greek restaurant by chef Michael Mina, situated on the ground floor of the Aventura Mall. The indoor/outdoor space combines all that you expect to find in an excellent restaurant: a stellar menu, seductive cocktails, intimate ambiance, and exceptional service. What's not to love? The menu includes everything from simple, classic appetizers to lavraki (sea bass), fagri (Mediterranean snapper), Maine lobster pasta, and other fish-based entrées to a hearty entrée of lamb chops. Begin your meal with a hummus plate at the cozy bar before moving on to complete the experience in the rustic dining room, a neutral palette set off by white wall planks and hanging modern lights amid pops of blue. Don't leave without a taste of baklava or bourbon-vanilla rice pudding.

Palat
Courtesy of Palat

Palat staked its claim to a corner of Buena Vista in 2018, and its modern spin on traditional Italian fare has been a hit ever since. Chef Pippo Lamberti's small-plates concept encourages diners to sample and share multiple dishes at once — an Italian tapasfeast of sorts that includes salads, crostini, and meatballs, as well as hearty entrées of sea urchin with squid-ink pasta and crabmeat, house-made beet ravioli, and charred octopus with artichoke and rosemary pesto. The cacio e pepe gets dressed to the nines with the addition of black truffle — what else could you ask for?

Minty Z
Photo by Minty Zhu

Minty Z is a fresh and fun addition to the diverse culinary community of Coconut Grove, offering fully plant-based/vegan Asian-fusion plates with a specialty in dim sum. The new restaurant is a creation by New York expatriates Alex Falco, the chef and creator behind the delicious vegan dishes, and his wife, Minty Zhu, the restaurant's namesake. The couple introduced their vegan dishes at the Coconut Grove Farmers Market, where they connected with locals and tested the waters. The full-service restaurant, located just across from the Grove's Grand Avenue post office, opened this past December, giving the 305 a much-needed solution to a lack of vegan dim sum options. "Asian food has a lot of varieties and we had this passion to create something new," shares Zhu. "As you know, Asian food is mostly based on meat." It should go without saying (though too often it doesn't): Vegans and nonvegans alike will enjoy this delicious cuisine.

Caffe Abbracci
Photo by Ana Adams

Nino Pernetti's indoor/outdoor Italian restaurant has stood fast for three decades as its neighborhood changed, sticking to a formula of warm, inviting service and a steadfast menu of classic and contemporary Italian dishes. Abbracci is always filled with locals (including families) who know to order well-executed options like carpaccio di tonno, vitello tonnato, red snapper al cartoccio, and Pernetti's homages to his daughters, tortellini Tatiana and agnolotti Katerina.

Est. 33 Thai Craft Brewery & Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Est. 33 Thai Craft Brewery & Kitchen

If you haven't been to the fourth floor of Brickell City Centre recently, you're missing more than a Florida megamall shopping experience. The pan-Asian brewpub Est. 33, brought to Miami by the creators of Thailand's famed Singha beer, expertly pairs grilled and barbecued dishes, from barbecue brisket Thai nachos to salmon belly satay to beer-brined pork belly, with tropically designed beers such as a toasted rice amber lager, the Brickell Brown, and, of course, Singha. Sit in the patio's beer garden with your pandemic pups or in the open-air restaurant itself — it makes no difference. Your entire satisfied body walks out wafting the smoky, spicy essences that enticed you in the first place, leaving you calculating just how soon you'll be back for more.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®