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 Restaurant Fort Lauderdale

Lona

Lona Cocina Tequileria
Photo by Lona Cocina Tequileria

For those in search of awe-inspiring Mexican fare, chef/owner Pablo Salas's two-year-old establishment inside the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort offers a definitive step above what passes for "Mexican" in South Florida. Lona ticks all the boxes, serving upscale cuisine in a festive cantina setting. The restaurant's combination of high-end fare, laid-back atmosphere, and approachable price points — not to mention a picturesque waterfront setting — is a winning one. If you judge a Mexican restaurant by its tacos and tequila, you'll love Lona's taco flights and tequila-themed tasting room. Guests can choose from starters such as crabmeat-studded guacamole, queso fundido, Mexican ribs coated with a guajillo-caramel dry rub and roasted with adobo, or tuna tostadas with chipotle aioli, soy, ginger, serrano pepper, crispy leeks, and sesame seeds. A variety of traditional Mexican items such as tacos and enchiladas make up a large part of the menu alongside options such as lobster quesadillas — but the chef's specials are the show-stealers here. Try the Arroz Cremoso con Langosta — butter-poached Maine lobster, chili oil, and truffle over risotto — or the salmon mole, an unusual pairing of the rich sauce with piloncillo squash, roasted peanuts, and crema fresca.

Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen

The South of Fifth neighborhood in Miami Beach has truly turned into a place where diners go for an expensive, dress-up dining experience — which is why Abbalé Telavivian Kitchen, or Abba, is such an unexpected surprise. The eatery is inside a tiny white house with a porch filled with bougainvillea and comfortable benches festooned with tufted pillows. The homey and charming setting is perfect for chef Samuel Gorenstein's menu. Gorenstein, best known for making fresh seafood accessible at My Ceviche, partnered with Omer Horev, founder of Pura Vida Miami; the restaurant's name comes from the Hebrew word for "father," and it celebrates the food that the owners share with their families at home. Start with the Holy Grail ($6) of tahini, grated tomato, and green harissa served with fire-baked pita before digging into a shakshuka ($18), a baked Mediterranean egg dish, or a roasted local fish ($32). Abba's Mediterranean dishes are perfect for Miami's climate, served in a beautiful setting.

Hiyakawa
Photo by Luis Mora

We're almost tempted to give Hiyakawa this award on design alone. The overarching, concentric wood structure is like the ribcage of a whale, and you're lucky enough to be dining in the belly of it. And dining you are: on some of the most imaginative Japanese cuisine in the city — which is a pretty bold statement to make, given how much of it has arisen this past year. These dishes come courtesy of a vastly experienced team, including proprietor Alvaro Perez Miranda of Wabi Sabi and executive chef Masayuki Komatsu, who prepare no more than 50 meals per night using traditional techniques with boutique, seasonal ingredients. They also invite guest chefs for residencies, including Alex Chang from the original Vagabond and Anthony Inn, chef/partner of New York City's renowned Satsuki and Suzuki restaurants. Watch the restaurant's social channels for announcements — reservations disappear as a fast as a bite of omakase.

Asian grocery stores vary widely in the scope of their products. While many small markets in South Florida carry specific ingredients — be it chewy rice cakes for tteokbokki, pickled mustard greens for your homemade dan dan noodles, vibrant seaweed salad, or a huge selection of instant noodles — what's available often depends on the nationality of the store's owners and regular shoppers. But Foodtown doesn't seem to adhere to any specific region or demographic; it stocks an extensive array of, like, everything. The produce section rivals that of Whole Foods in terms of assortment, though for a fraction of the cost. Cilantro, culantro, Thai basil, and mung bean sprouts all cost less than a dollar per bundle. Oyster, enoki, king trumpet, beech, and shiitake mushrooms are also readily available on the cheap. The tofu shelf is overwhelming, as is the seafood section, which offers standard grocery fare like salmon fillets along with more exotic items (see: shark meat; live frogs). The cafeteria in back offers some seriously delicious and seriously cheap samosas, and Cubanos are sold alongside mooncakes at the bakery counter to the right of the cash registers. If you're looking for an eclectic, affordable shopping experience, get yourself down to Foodtown.

Yellow Green Farmers Market
Photo by Laine Doss

Yellow Green Farmers Market is more than a market: The sprawling, 100,000-square-foot weekend venue is a destination all its own. You could spend an entire Saturday or Sunday here shopping for everything from farm-fresh produce, local honey, and baked goods to spices, hummus, and quail eggs. Start your adventure with a coffee or fresh-pressed juice, then shop to your heart's content. The market hosts local farmers and artisans, and their prices are much lower than those at the supermarket, so don't be surprised if a week's worth of veggies costs around $20. Hungry for lunch? Options include barbecue, Cuban sandwiches, ceviche, wood-fired pizza, Thai food, and more. When you're done shopping, relax under one of Yellow Green's massive tiki huts with a cold beer or wine from one of the on-premises bars and listen to live music. Yellow Green could be one of the best things to happen to South Florida.

Pura Vida
Photo courtesy of Lauren Gnazzo for Gnazzo Group

Pura Vida locations throughout Miami are all-day breakfast hangouts, inviting spaces with a vibe that's peak tropical Miami: bright décor, plenty of greenery, and outdoor patios overlooking the street. It's easygoing breakfast fare, served through the evening. Start off with a hearty bowl, wrap, or salad, and finish with a chia parfait or a fruit salad, and you've got the perfect satisfying meal. Fresh juices pack in plenty of produce, and the blended drinks sub in superbly for dessert.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®