Photo by Christian Lozan

Juan Chipoco's stylish outpost in Miami Beach's South of Fifth neighborhood blends Peruvian and Japanese cuisine into dishes that are packed with color, texture, and flavor. Eclectic iterations of ceviche and tiraditos (fine slices of fresh fish bathed in leche de tigre and other reductions) are a good place to start, and the list of nigiri and rolls offers something for everyone. Some entrées to seek out on your visit: the duck rice steamed in black beer, and the filet mignon, which is covered in an exotic blend of coffee, cardamom, and star anise. The ambiance is as eye-catching as the food, with textured gray walls dressed up with koi fish designs, gold leaf, and shelves lined with books, family portraits, and antiques from Chipoco's home.

Photo by Francy Nunez

Miami locals Sakhone Sayarath and her partner in business and life, Curtis Rhodes, launched Lil’ Laos as a pop-up at Midtown Garden Center in 2016 to satisfy Sayarath's craving for a taste of home. Following several subsequent pop-ups amid the pandemic last year, they found a permanent space in the Citadel food hall in Little River and expanded to full-time. Laotian cuisine shares many culinary similarities with Thailand, its neighbor to the west, but dishes at Lil’ Laos are channeled through Sayarath’s memory of her Laotian mother’s home cooking, then articulated by Rhodes’ hands in the kitchen and onto the plate. All so we may partake of brightly flavored gems like the lemongrass chicken (ping gai), dark meat chunks kissed with a coconut-curry sauce and served with sticky rice and a transcendent side of sweet and spicy papaya salad, transcendent in its own right thanks to the umami-rich, fish sauce-based dressing. And “Crispy Rice” (nam tod khao), a ball of marinated rice that’s deep-fried until golden, then crumbled and mixed with fresh herbs and topped with cubes of Spam-like Lao sausage. And beef jerky — one of Sayaranth’s favorite snacks — marinated overnight and deep-fried the way her father used to prepare it. Try the pork ribs and the chicken wings and you’ll never think the same way about barbecue again. Lil' Laos may well be the only restaurant in all of South Florida that specializes in authentic Laotian dishes. If that places it in a category of its own, so be it.

Editor’s note: Owing to a misunderstanding regarding supposed limitations on “Best of Miami” categories, this item was originally tailored to run as “Best Thai Restaurant” — a category in which it clearly does not belong. In order to right that wrong, the headline has been changed and the blurb rewritten.

Courtesy of Miss Saigon Bistro

For nearly a quarter of a century, Miss Saigon has supplied Coral Gables with delicious Vietnamese cuisine. The extensive menu offers a half-dozen varieties of pho and ten versions of the rice noodle bowl known as bun. Vegans will have to make some decisions, too — though you can't go wrong with the unique and exquisite seitan watercress. Entrées range in price from $11 to $22, but bargain seekers should stop by for the weekday "Luncheon Special": an entrée, plus rice and a soup or salad for about $10.

Photo by Donna Irene

If you fawn over small-batch French red wine, have a preference for naturally bubbly pét-nat, or salivate over Slavic white wines, then Margot Natural Wine Bar is for you. BarLab founders Gabe Orta and Elad Zvi have had a love affair with natural wine for years but were hard-pressed to find the labels they loved in Miami. Inspired by wine bars they'd visited across Europe offering innovative, biodynamic vino, they created a concept that put the focus on unique, niche-style wine makers thinking outside the box. Following a successful summer pop-up at Nikki Beach, Margot — named for Ernest Hemingway's granddaughter — now has a permanent home inside downtown's historical Ingraham Building. Set in an airy, high-ceilinged space, Margot has one of the city's most extensive natural wine lists, which will change with exclusive, special-edition releases. The menu comprises more than 80 options — think orange-hued skin contact white wines and Sicilian reds with natural fizz — with a small selection available by the glass. A $30 wine flight takes the guesswork out of ordering, presenting a daily-changing selection of three wines sourced from the world's wine-making regions. Pair them with Margot's seasonal small plates prepared tapas-style by 27 Restaurant chef Jimmy Lebron.

Most sports bars in Miami have one thing in common: disappointed sports fans. It makes sense, then, that you'd want a sports bar that can make even the worst game seem bearable. That's where Black Market Miami comes in. Founders Erick Passo and Mike Mora say they often reminisce about the memories made at the Bayside Hooters, now the site of their new 8,000-square-foot space equipped with more than 40 TV monitors (many of them outside) and an open-air bar overlooking the nearby marina. The vibe could erase any sore loser's bad mood, and fewer bar fights is always a good thing. Unlike most hole-in-the-wall sports bars, Black Market has more to offer than just TVs. It also serves some seriously crafty cocktails, including a smoked Old Fashioned and a bubbly-topped mezcal margarita alongside a variety of draft craft beers. The food menu is generous, too, with a mix of casual and upscale options.

Photo courtesy of Spanish Marie Brewing

Co-owners Alby Cespedes and head brewer Jaime Medina named their brewery after Marie Waite, the legendary 1920s South Florida rum runner who outran the Coast Guard smuggling booze across the Florida Straits. Spanish Marie is known for its small-batch brews, with a seven-barrel system that produces a wide variety of beers ranging from IPAs and funky fruited sours to barrel-aged stouts. Cool down with the Guava Guerra imperial blonde ale conditioned with fresh guava; take a trip back in time with the Ecto Cooler, a Hi-C-inspired sour ale brewed with tangerine, orange, and lemonade that pours an electric green; or try the recently released Machete Spills, a fruited gose aged for more than a year in mezcal barrels. They're all available inside the Spanish Marie taproom, where a robust food menu offers made-to-order pizzas, tacos, and creative bar fare. In keeping with its Prohibition-era origins, the ten-seat tasting room is open only on select days and accessible by a secret door in true speakeasy style. An Alby-designed beer garden rounds out the options at this West Kendall brewery.

Photo courtesy of Cervecería La Tropical

Cuba's oldest brewery is now Miami's newest with the completion of Wynwood's Cervecería La Tropical. The custom-designed complex is the realization of a passion project spearheaded by the company's CEO, Manny Portuondo, whose family purchased the land on which the original Cuban brewery once stood. The result is a sprawling 28,000-square-foot space that houses a production brewery, taproom and restaurant, as well as a live-music stage and outdoor botanic gardens that honor the brewery's past. Brewmaster Matt Weintraub will deliver more than 20 rotating beers, anchored by the 4.5 percent ABV La Original, a Vienna-style amber lager whose recipe dates back to 1888, and Nativo Key, a 4.5 percent ABV session IPA with tropical notes of mango, passion fruit, and pineapple. Drawing from a Latin-Caribbean palette, chef Cindy Hutson has crafted an equally Miami menu, ranging from tapas, flatbreads, and sandwiches to her own spin on a frita burger, topped with chorizo, ground pork, shoestring potatoes, and tomato marmalade on brioche. You'll be grateful for such hearty fare when sampling the brewery's Tropilina, a high-octane tropical double IPA with hints of citrus, pineapple, guava, and grapefruit.

Photo courtesy of Unbranded Brewing Co.

A super-citrusy pale ale that gives Miami's other area code legit street cred, 786's substance pairs nicely with an aesthetically pleasing can design that pays homage to old-school Miami postcards. Despite clocking in at 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, 786 is perfect for beach and pool parties. It's a smooth craft beer made with Hialeah Cuban spice by the crew at Unbranded Brewery in the LEAH Arts District of La Ciudad que Progresa. By the time Unbranded set up shop in February 2020 in a nondescript, 30,000-square-foot warehouse with stark white walls and a rustic minimalist interior, founder and University of Miami philosophy doctoral candidate Zachary Swanson had been home-brewing beers for a decade and a half. Swanson has parlayed that experience into creating sudsy concoctions that capture Miami's fluorescent vibes — and making it hip to claim the 786.

Barbecue and beer are a match made in heaven, so when we're craving a cold one and some mouthwatering grub, we hightail it to Gorilla City. Back in November 2019, former brewer and self-trained pit master Julian Uribe opened Gorilla City Meats & Sandwiches inside Tripping Animals Brewing Co., aiming to combine the of two worlds under one roof. And that's precisely what he did. While Uribe always recommends his melt-in-your-mouth brisket, which he's spent years perfecting, other recommendations include the hearty "Pavo" sandwich, layered with smoked turkey, cranberry slaw, and a garlic aioli and the "Carolina," a sammie stuffed with pulled pork, Carolina gold sauce, and a carrot slaw. Don't neglect your sides: Tack on an order of mac 'n' cheese or potato salad —and wash it all down with one of Tripping Animals' sour beers for an afternoon well ingested. (Note: The taproom and restaurant are closed on Mondays.)

Photo courtesy of Pilo's Tequila Garden

Pilo's Tequila Garden is a newcomer to Wynwood, but that doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing here. Pilo's first location, Pilo's Street Tacos, has served authentic Mexican street food in Brickell since 2017. Pilo's Tequila Garden opened in February as a new concept from owner Derek Gonzalez. The restaurant's tequila garden was inspired by Gonzalez's childhood in Mexico City, where the concept of the jardín is ingrained in the culture. "It's very well known in Mexico City. You go and have coffee, beer, drinks, dinner, or lunch in a garden," Gonzalez says. The booze part comes in thanks to his family's longtime involvement in the tequila business. This being Wynwood, the nightlife aspect plays a starring role but the bar food still stands out, and not only because there's a captive audience in need of something substantial to soak up the tequila. Pilo's menu includes various tacos like El Costeñito (grilled or beer-battered shrimp with pickled red onion, pineapple, and avo-crema on flour tortillas), appetizers like elote and chips and guac; and entrées like quesadillas, burrito bowls and alambres. The main kitchen shuts down at 10 p.m., but Pilo's continues to offer a limited late-night menu until 11:50 p.m.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®