Photo courtesy of Apocalypse BBQ

When the pandemic hit, Miami native Jeffrey Budnechky's work as a freelance marketer came to a halt. A self-described backyard barbecue enthusiast, he took his ten years' worth of grilling experience and said, "F the apocalypse, let's just make barbecue." What began as a handful of orders and a 22-inch Weber Smokey Mountain has since turned into one of Miami's favorite pop-ups, serving a variety of meats that now emerge from the chef's professional smoker. Along the way — with a feature at the 2021 South Beach Wine and Food Festival under his belt — a promise was made to help define South Florida barbecue. To do so, Budnechky marries the flavors of his Brazilian-Argentinian roots with his wife Lara's Cuban heritage. That means pulled pork smothered in a colada-infused barbecue sauce dubbed "oro negro"; massive dino beef ribs dusted in a homemade coffee rub and finished with a lacquering of the chef's own Bustelo-infused cafecito sauce; and a four-hour, slow-smoked pork-belly burnt ends braised and glazed in his "Guava Lava." Sides are Lara's and her mother's specialty: a simple choice of homemade mac 'n' cheese or cornbread. Find them every Sunday from 2 p.m. till sold out at Unseen Creatures in Miami.

Photo by Nicole Danna

Eduardo Lara started the Wolf of Tacos much the same way kids sell lemonade: He set up a stand in front of his house. A couple of years later, his tacos are the toast of the town at pop-ups around Miami, including Tuesdays at J. Wakefield Brewing Co. and Fridays at Dante's HiFi (both in Wynwood). The key to Lara's success is that he lets his ingredients speak for themselves. And boy, do they sing. Beef, pork, chicken, and oyster mushrooms are grilled, placed on fresh tortillas, and finished with homemade salsas. The result is the most satisfying of meals, deceptively simple until you pause to savor how the smoky, rich meat, wrapped in the freshest of tortillas, is foiled by tangy salsa. A masterpiece that fits in your fist, priced well under ten bucks.

Most hotels have a restaurant, but only the SLS South Beach has one by a world-class chef. José Andrés is one of the most well-respected names in the culinary world, and for good reason. His dishes are as precise as they are whimsical. At the Bazaar, he takes ordinary-sounding concepts like lox and bagels or conch fritters and artfully turns them on their heads. Meals here are thought-provoking and adventurous. The dining rooms, indoor and out-, manage to be simultaneously convivial and electric, as if a theater performance could break out at any moment. Just don't expect giant sparklers on your birthday.

Photo by Brigitte Schambon

Most museum restaurants are located within the actual confines of their walls. Not this one, which embraces the great outdoors where the Rubell Museum maintains a lush tropical garden, as well as a Josper grill where much of its stunning Basque cuisine is cooked. But regardless of where it's positioned, Leku draws inspiration from the museum. Quite directly, in fact, including a cocktail, the "Allison," named for Allison Zuckerman's painting Eternal Recurrence, which hangs over the bar. The drink, made with brandy, Asturian ice-cider, amontillado, uchuva (gooseberry), and demerara sugar and topped with a floating disk of edible rice paper imprinted with a section of the artwork, is representative of the way executive chef Mikel Goikolea and the team at Leku present all of their offerings: with creativity, skill, and no small amount of art. Order à la carte or choose the 11-course tasting menu, which can be accompanied by optional wine pairings.

Photo courtesy of Luca Osteria

A glass (or bottle) of wine with dinner is a surefire way to elevate your meal. At Luca Osteria, chef Giorgio Rapicavoli's Italian culinary paradise in the heart of Coral Gables, the wine list isn't a 20-pound doorstop, but it presents a fine selection of Italian wines. There are wines from other parts of the world, too — from California and Oregon, from France and Argentina, even one bottle from the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. As for us, we'll stick with the Italian offerings — say, a pet-nat from Emilia-Romagna with our patate fritte. We'll definitely pair the light and refreshing vermentino with our pasta al limone before treating our palate to a smooth, easy-drinking rosso di Montalcino as we slice into a plate of double lamb chops with their accompanying anchovy- and garlic-rich bagna càuda. But hey, you do you. And if you're on the fence or feel overmatched, don't hesitate to ask the staff for a recommendation (or request guidance from the chef himself). The restaurant's tagline is "Good Pasta, Good People," but they might consider completing the trifecta by adding "Good Wine."

Photo by Ines Ayra
Platano Soup

Fifteen years ago, dining in Southwest Miami-Dade consisted of evenings at chain restaurants. Chef Adrianne Calvo saw the need for a high-quality establishment and set up shop in a suburban shopping center. The Johnson & Wales graduate quickly made a reputation for herself by offering fine-dining plates like New Zealand lamb, Black Angus reserve steaks, and fresh burrata. The restaurant became popular with local diners who no longer needed to drive for miles to access fine dining. Today Calvo owns several restaurants, including the revamped Redfish by Adrianne at Matheson Hammock Park, but Chef Adrianne's remains her flagship.

It's unclear how the Globe earned its name. It could be for the collection of cartographic globes displayed behind the lacquered wood bar, or perhaps it's the undeniable feeling that patrons have suddenly been transported a world away from Miami's hypermodern dining scene. Owners Danny and Lorraine Guiteras opt for fresh roses and handpainted frescoes over the whole Tulum-inspired fad. Black-and-white films screen behind the bar. There's live jazz every Saturday night (no DJs), imparting the feel of an old New York salon or Paris café. Family-owned since 1997, the Globe is a sophisticated spot for lunch, dinner, or happy hour (former Coral Gables mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli is a regular). Fortunately, the menu doesn't rotate — the steak frites, fish and chips, pear ravioli, and signature Globe salad are as delectable now as they were 25 years ago.

Photo courtesy of Sadelle's

Sadelle's started in New York City as Major Food Group's (the folks behind Carbone) version of a brunch palace. Here in Miami, it quickly became the buzziest place in town to get a bagel. This Coconut Grove stunner is a fever dream of breakfast and lunch classics that take you back to your gluttonous childhood, from pigs-in-a-blanket to tuna melts (try one on a salt-and-pepper bagel), triple-decker sandwiches, and salads so huge you'll wonder whether you've started a lettuce shortage by ordering one. For pure nostalgia, the restaurant offers New York breakfast favorites like smoked salmon, whitefish, sable, or salmon salad platters served with tomatoes, capers, and a bagel of your choice. Going with friends? Splurge on the "Sadelle's Tower," an assortment of bagels, fish spreads, and veggies on an Instagrammable tower.

Katie June Burton

Even as too many schmancy restaurants keep popping up in Brickell, Stanzione 87 manages to continue to deliver on its promise of a top-quality meal, in this case, pizza. The wood-fired Neapolitan-style pies arrive with their crusts perfectly blistered, their centers impossibly molten. Opt for classic Margherita if youre a purist, or top it with sausage and peppers for a flavor bomb. Those who are feeling more adventurous might opt for the decadent truffle white pizza. (More of a subs and wings type? Stanzione's fine if you skip the pizza altogether. But whatever you do, leave room for the Nutella calzone.

Photo by Zachary Fagenson

When All Day closed amid the pandemic, Miami lost one of its great coffee shops and restaurants. Then, as if by magic, partners Chris MacLeod and Camilla Ramos reopened the downtown Miami jewel this past March. From 8 a.m. till 3 p.m. each and every day, the restaurant serves eggs, pastries, drinks, mimosas, and more. At least as important, though, is the fact that All Day, like all great coffee shops, serves as a gathering place (and in some cases an office) for remote workers looking to escape their bedrooms. The little café also pledges to give workers fair wages, to source its food responsibly, and to give back to the neighborhood where it resides through donations and events — and providing a safe, welcoming space to linger with a fine cup of coffee.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®