Best Restaurant (Coral Gables) 2023 | Lion & the Rambler | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
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Chef Michael Bolen moved to Miami from San Diego and opened Lion & the Rambler, a modern California restaurant highlighting offerings from some of the best farmers and purveyors in the country with an ever-evolving seasonal menu. What started as a tasting-menu-only concept was modified soon after opening by customers' demand: They wanted a neighborhood joint with plenty of a la carte and small plates that could keep them returning for more. As a rule of thumb, if it isn't seasonal, it's probably made from scratch, like the finishing salts extracted from Miami's waters, the housemade bread, and flavored butters.

Pla-Tu Sushi Thai Tapas photo

Pla-Tu Sushi Thai Tapas doesn't believe fast food necessarily means good food. That's why each dish at the 40-seat South Miami restaurant is made to order and uses the freshest ingredients possible. "We don't precook food," restaurant partner Oui Pholasamee previously told New Times. "You may have to wait a bit, but the food will come out tasting good." The Thai-Japanese fusion spot, voted number one on Yelp's Top 100 Places to Eat in Florida this year, prides itself on its top-notch ingredients. Aside from preparing a selection of top-grade, melt-in-your-mouth sushi and a surprisingly affordable omakase dinner at just $40, the restaurant also serves up an array of authentic Thai dishes like moo nam tok (grilled pork salad) and chicken khao soi (coconut curry noodle soup). The staff is kind and attentive, the food is Instagram-worthy, and the spicy tuna crispy rice is immaculately crisp.

Reunion Ktchn Bar photo

Reunion Kitchn Bar is next door to a pizza chain and a dentist, but don't let the location fool you — this restaurant has some serious chops. First off, the bartenders know how to make an exceptional martini, and there's an entire menu of "culinary cocktails" inspired by chef's dishes, including a black truffle old fashioned. The menu is a global experience blending Peruvian, Cuban, Mediterranean, and Japanese dishes. It's arguably one of the only places in the city where diners can find escargot, ceviche, tagliatelle, saganaki, and sushi, all under the same roof.

Best Restaurant (Fort Lauderdale)


Photo by Nicole Danna

Some may know Rino Cerbone as the frontman for the South Florida band Stellar Revival. But if you'd like to taste his Italian heritage, head down to Heritage, a hidden gem nestled in an unassuming building on the southern outskirts of Flagler Village. As chef/owner, Cerbone showcases his family's Italian heritage via a casual fine-dining experience. The Heritage menu is small but focused. Each dish comes from the Cerbone family recipes with Cerbone's spin. Start with fried squash blossoms, delicate flowers stuffed with creamy mascarpone and bound by a thin and crispy tempura-like shell and paired with a sherry-spiked marinara or the black mushroom arancini, dense globes of rice set atop smoked garlic and tomato aioli and flavored with oyster, portobello, cremini, and shiitake mushrooms and held together by a trio of cheeses. Pizza takes up a good portion of the menu, an homage to his father's pizzaiola background, a calling evident with just one bite of the classic tomato, a simple pie prepared with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. But it's the mafaldine bolognese, a recipe crafted to impart influences from both Cerbone's parents, that shines. The slow-cooked ragu is rich and hearty, with a blend of pork, veal, Wagyu beef, and smoked pancetta that goes perfectly with fat ribbons of handmade mafaldine pasta. Just one bite, and you'll have a newfound appreciation for the legacy behind this Fort Lauderdale favorite.

Carmela and Fulvio Jr. Sardelli, owners of Hollywood favorite Sardelli's, opened Carmela's Italian Ristorante in the heart of downtown Hollywood without any signage. But you'll know you've arrived when you encounter the crystal chandeliers and romantic lighting that give Carmela's a more elegant vibe than the usual pubs and mom-and-pop restaurants in the area. The menu is small, but everything is fresh and delicious. Want a steaming dish of rigatoni alla vodka? Carmela's version is toothsome, creamy, and with a hint of Calabrian chilies. The chicken parm has the proper crisp perimeter. Carmela's also makes some of the finest cocktails in Hollywood, including a truffle-washed "Bee's Knees" and an old fashioned with pistachio orgeat and bitters. Grab a seat at the bar with friends or ask the host for a seat at the secret back garden for a romantic date night.

Best Restaurant to Die in the Past Year

BarMeli 69

Courtesy of Barmeli69 Greek Bistro & Wine Bar

Everyone needs a home away from home — a place where the weight of the world falls from your shoulders simply by walking through the doors. For many Miamians, BarMeli 69 (or, simply, BarMeli) was that place. The tiny wine bar served natural wines and Mediterranean and Greek-inspired small plates, but it was BarMeli's proprietress, Liza Meli, infused the walls with magic. A former dancer, Meli is the kind of person that's simply meant to be a hostess, gliding from table to table to ensure her guests were fed, happy, and never holding an empty wine glass. Bar Meli was much more than a place to have a drink and a bite; it was a place to make new friends, engage in conversation, and feel welcomed always. Sadly, Bar Meli closed, but this story has a happy ending. Liza Meli has opened an even more intimate wine bar called No Reservations just a few miles away that promises good food, good drink, and, of course, the magic of Meli.

Best Restaurant to Come Back From the Dead

Runway 84

Anthony's Runway 84 photo

Since 1982, Anthony's Runway 84 (or "Runway" as it was called) garnered favor for its one-two punch of delicious Italian favorites like chicken parm and heaping platters of cold antipasto served in a kitschy, airport-themed restaurant. After four decades of service, the restaurant needed a good refresh, and it closed last year for a revamp. In January, partners Anthony Bruno, Pat Marzano, and Marc Falsetto unveiled their $5 million renovation, giving the restaurant new life and a shorter name: Runway 84. The restaurant has been updated with a stage, red-and-black wallpaper, and a supper club vibe that would make Goodfella's Henry Hill proud. And, of course, the food is a resplendent homage to the red-sauce gods: meatballs, lasagna, and chicken-vodka parm are all winners. Runway 84 has added a selection of steaks and chops to the menu for those hankering for some good meat with a side of Sinatra. And, as plush as the dining room now is, the real action remains at the bar, where the barkeep will pour you a perfect vodka martini and provide witty banter as you enjoy your clams oreganata and bask in the atmosphere.

Zachary Fagenson

Hidden among the Cuban morsels on Calle Ocho, Sanpocho Restaurant is a Colombian eatery with a no-frills, wooden table set-up. The shelves feature Colombian goods for sale, and the menu offers staples, including the delightfully gooey tequeños ($1.50) and crispy empanadas ($2) that pair with a jolt of the homemade picante/ají sauce. The massive bandeja paisa dishes are served with rice, beans, plantains, a fried egg, arepa, chicharron, and your choice of protein.

Cheen Huaye in Mayan means "only here" — and only here will South Florida diners get to experience authentic dishes from the Yucatán peninsula. The brainchild of executive chef and Yucatán native Marco Velasquez, this Mexican eatery offers all the staples: complimentary chips and salsa, fresh guacamole, cotija-loaded elote, and gooey quesadillas. But it's the heartier plates that stand out, such as the cochinita pibil (suckling piglet marinated in achiote and wrapped in banana leaves), chile relleño (chihuahua cheese-stuffed poblano pepper), and mole poblano (chicken drenched in mole sauce with a touch of bitter chocolate).

Photo by Phillip Pessar via Flickr Creative Commons

For as long as most Miamians can remember, Versailles has become synonymous with authentic Cuban flavors, solidifying its reputation as the go-to spot for locals and sunburned tourists alike. Since opening in 1971, Versailles has become an institution for anyone longing for a taste of Havana, offering authentic Cuban sandwiches and traditional Cuban staples like ropa vieja and picadillo that smacks of abuela's cooking. Most folks merely hit up the ventanita for cortaditos and café con leche, but dining among the hexagon-tiled floors and glass chandeliers inside is a kitschy experience that continues to top so many must-do Miami lists for a reason.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®