Best Mac & Cheese 2023 | Chica | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Photo courtesy of 50 Eggs
Chica's ceviche sampler

Don't dismiss this common barbecue side. A successful mac & cheese requires the perfect ratio of cheese-pull, tender pasta, and a thick, creamy sauce to tie it all together. At her MiMo eatery, Chica, chef Lorena Garcia checks all these boxes with her poblano mac & cheese. This indulgent dish is baked (and served) in a cast-iron dish, combining a classic Mornay sauce infused with poblano peppers and topped with a crisp chorizo crumble.

El Primo photo

As one of the first on the taqueria scene with birria tacos (stuffed with stewed meat and served with its braising liquid for dipping), El Primo debuted during the pandemic and spent the first two years of its life as a pop-up. Then, much to local taco aficionados' collective delight, it became a permanent fixture last fall. With its trademark red color and a choice of soft or crisp corn, flour, or even keto-friendly cheese tortillas, these birria tacos are crunchy, juicy, drippy, and messy. In short, they're delightful chaos for the palate, simultaneously satisfying all textural and taste requirements. Signature menu items include the ultra-rich huesitaco (birria taco with bone marrow) and the super-fun birriamen (birria, ramen noodles, and birria broth). If you're still hungry after indulging in the taco offerings, round out your meal with a birria smash burger (birria, beef patty, cheese, and consommé) and birria fries (birria, cheese, guacamole, onion, cilantro, and morita aioli). Some of these might sound like missteps, but trust us — you can't order wrong here.

Islas Canarias photo

Every year we try to ignore the 800-pound croqueta in the room. While others have tried to claim the title of best croqueta, only one has reigned supreme in this city since 1977. In the heart of Tamiami, Islas Canarias boasts a golden nugget of deep-fried heaven filled with a proprietary blend of ham and cheese. The Cuban Andrade family founded the restaurant in Little Havana, but it's been in its current spot since 1987. It's become so beloved by the community that the Miami-Dade Commission even proclaimed that corner of Southwest 137th Avenue and 26th Street "Islas Canarias Way."

Photo by Nicole Danna

Richard Ortega hails from a small Venezuelan town, and it was memories of his grandmother's cooking that inspired him to embark upon the Maíz Project. What began amid the COVID-19 lockdown as pop-ups in parking lots and weekend markets ultimately evolved into a stall inside Time Out Market Miami. Like his abuela, Ortega hand-grinds his maize with the traditional wooden mortar and pestle known as a pilón, then boils, steeps, and rests the concoction before using the resultant flour to form the arepas, which are grilled over the open flame of a parrilla. For the steak arepa (Ortega's best seller), the chef douses long, thick-cut ribbons of meat in a fragrant house-made chimichurri, tops them with a fat slab of queso blanco, and stuffs them into grill-marked arepas delivered hot from the flames. Blue, red, yellow — the type of corn is seldom the same from visit to visit, which all but guarantees that no two meals will ever be the same. Editor's note: As this year's Best of Miami issue was being assembled, Time Out abruptly announced it would close its Miami Beach food hall at the end of June. Initially, Ortega believed he'd be out on the street again. But when we followed up with him, he said the facility's landlords will keep the food hall open. Check the Maíz Project's Instagram for updates.

Photo courtesy of Fox's Lounge

If you like a cold drink at a dark bar, there's no place darker and no martini more chilled than Fox's Lounge. A Miami fixture for decades until it closed in 2015, Fox's was fortunately and lovingly recreated by Chris Hudnall and Randy Alonso of Lost Boy & Co. It reopened last year with everything you want in a bar — a jukebox in the corner, inviting bar stools, and some solid, unpretentious drinks and grub. If you're looking for cocktails made with dry ice or food covered in gold leaf, you won't find it here. There are no Instagrammable flaming rainbow sundaes — the place is so dark you wouldn't get a decent picture anyway. Instead, you're here for stick-to-your-ribs food like fried chicken and thumb bits (steak pieces on French bread rounds). Pair these with a perfectly made martini, complete with a sidecar on ice. There's nothing better than escaping Miami's unrelenting sun and heat than walking into a cool bar. And Fox's is the coolest in town.

Tropezón photo by Patrick Chin

Española Way might be in the middle of Miami Beach, but the vibe at Tropezón is more romantic, European village — nothing like the beach, booze, and clubs surrounding it. Tropezón, a small bar that pays tribute to the gin and tonics of Spain, fits into the block perfectly. There, gin and tonics are far more intricate than the American version that serves the spirit and a soda in a tall glass. At Tropezón, gins are infused with fruits, herbs, florals, and other eyebrow-raising flavors like buttered banana and sour cherry, which can be made into a countless number of bespoke gin and tonics served in large balloon goblets reminiscent of the Iberian peninsula. With a rich tapas menu, the entire experience can feel like a visit to Spain, minus the jetlag.

Photo by Nicole Danna

The Green Hat is a legit speakeasy hidden inside Xtreme Action Park, and it's not what you probably imagine. Make your way to the back corner of the indoor theme park. It might seem like you're entering the Evolution Escape Rooms, but a green door is a clue to the clandestine space. You'll need a code to open it (check the website). Once you're in, a short hallway leads to a dimly lighted den where you can belly up to a six-seat bar and choose from a menu of high-end cocktails expertly crafted by the Hat's talented mixologists. The name is a homage to rum smuggler James Cassidy, AKA the rum pirate of the Bahamas, and his lucky green fedora. You can't go wrong with the "Green Hat Grog," a tiki-inspired libation that marries Bacardi, Coconut Cartel, and Plantation Pineapple rums with guava syrup, orgeat, lime juice, and Angostura bitters. For a picture-perfect drink, try the "Birds of Paradise," a pousse-café made with Bar Hill gin, Lo-Fi sweet vermouth, cherry syrup, and lemon juice, crowned with a froth of blue curaçao and aquafaba. Note: The secret door won't open on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Courtesy of the Bend Liquor Lounge

Inconspicuously nestled inside a North Dade shopping plaza, the Bend Liquor Lounge has all the makings of a great neighborhood haunt: a great happy hour, Star Wars memorabilia, and, of course, weekly karaoke. Cozy up to the lounge's massive bar and indulge in one of the Bend's signature cocktails. That's right: signature cocktails at a neighborhood bar. A suburban neighborhood bar.

Freddy's photo

Freddy's isn't your average hotel bar — it's a bona fide speakeasy nestled away in the InterContinental Miami. Accessible by reservation only, this secret hideaway offers guests the rare opportunity to step back in time to the Prohibition Era and immerse themselves in the intimate atmosphere of a hidden cocktail club. It's named after the famed 19th-century Polish composer and virtuoso pianist Frédéric François Chopin, whose name graces both the street the hotel is located on and one of its ballrooms. True to speakeasy form, this tiny lounge accommodates just a dozen guests at a time who are escorted to the hidden location in a seemingly abandoned wing of the resort where a secret knock guarantees admission beyond a paneled door for a two-hour journey into 1920s cocktail culture. Amid the historic ambiance of vintage furnishings, plush seating, and a candlelit bar, a team of dedicated mixologists meticulously craft a short and sweet menu of house libations, offering plenty of theatrical entertainment by way of lore along the way. The "Four Ballads" welcome toast is a refreshing entry, made with a blend of Casa Noble tequila infused with cilantro, Cointreau, lime, and simple syrup. From there, guests are invited to choose from a concise list of signature cocktails, including the exclusive housemade Maker's Mark cask cocktail, a potent libation infused with Italian liquor and Heering cherry liqueur before being barrel-aged for six weeks.

Sipsip Calypso Rum Bar photo

Playing tourist in Miami is almost as fun as playing hooky. Sipsip, a rum bar on the rooftop of Coconut Grove's newly renovated Mayfair House Hotel & Garden, has created the kind of paradisiacal vibe that locals often remember to experience only when hosting out-of-town guests. With views of and breezes from Biscayne Bay, almost any drink would do, but Sipsip's cocktails are well-balanced and served up by friendly bar staff. The menu offers Caribbean-inspired concoctions like a "Goombay Smash" ($16) as well as tiki-style drinks like a "Zombie" ($16), with a handful of frozen options. It also thoughtfully includes appealing non-alcoholic beverages, like the Switcha lemonade ($6) or the "Goombay Punch" ($6).

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®