Best Restaurant to Die in the Past Year 2023 | BarMeli 69 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

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.

Photo by Christian Lozan

It's not hard to find classic Peruvian and Mexican versions of ceviche in the Magic City. That said, there's something wonderfully decadent about Juan Chipoco's glamorously chic Intimo, located in South Beach's South of Fifth neighborhood. The menu's "cold bar" features several creative renditions, offering everything from Nikkei-style tuna to an avocado-based leche de tigre. Non-pescatarians will welcome the vegetable ceviche, a medley of tender asparagus, hearts of palm, wild mushrooms, and baby corn, marinated in a vegetable-based leche de tigre&etilde;&etilde;. If you're feeling fancy, pick what grabs you from the day's fresh catch to create your own masterpiece. And you can't go wrong with Intimo's signature dish: a hearty dish of lobster, octopus, calamari, oysters, and the catch of the day, served with the chef's "ganadora" leche de tigre.

Fernanda Torcida
Fernanda Torcida

There are fancier Peruvian restaurants in Miami and certainly more humble ones. Farolito is right down the middle, a white-tablecloth neighborhood spot on Coral Way perfect for a nice dinner. The menu is classic Peruvian, with all the ceviches and tiraditos you could ask for, plus seafood appetizers like jalea (fried breaded seafood) and pulpo al olivo (octopus in black olive sauce), along with all sorts of grilled meats and fish. Try ordering something in salsa agridulce, a sweet and sour tamarind sauce.

Andrea Lorena

Nando and Valerie Chang's take on the Japanese-Peruvian cuisine known as nikkei has earned Itaemae plenty of rave reviews — and the hype is warranted. The menu is constantly changing to highlight local and seasonal products. A recent visit featured ceviche mixto with black grouper and conch and a barred knifejaw tiradito. Even with all the buzz, Itamae is still unpretentious, with outdoor seating and surprisingly reasonable prices considering its location among the extravagant and luxurious Design District shops.

Inari Fusion Sushi photo

Miami is said to be a melting pot of cultures, and no two seem more compatible in this metaphorical cast iron than the like-minded sensibilities of Japanese and Peruvian. Case in point: Inari Sushi Fusion, where the raw sushi and savory marinades of one Asian country's cuisine symbiotically pair with the spicy sauces and fresh seafood of a South American country's cuisine. But like a mad scientist, the Cuban-born chef/owner Pedro González never tires of his ongoing curiosity for exploring testing flavors and cooking techniques outside Japan and Peru, especially in the assortment of hot and cold small plates, including the ceviche empanadas (the traditional fried pastry stuffed with a marinated fresh catch of the day) and the "Salmon Bites" (lightly-breaded pockets of fried salmon with cream cheese and scallion paired with a creamy bacon dipping sauce). Earlier this year, he debuted a new CBD menu, which includes a one-millimeter syringe of the flavorless cannabidiol for customers to customize specialty sushi rolls and cocktails.

Yakko Bistro photo

Cooked Japanese fare has gotten lost in the omakase craze. Fortunately, Yakko Bistro offers more than raw fish (or fish seared with a blowtorch). This stellar eatery has been around for decades in a North Miami Beach strip mall but has reinvented itself more than once to keep up with the times. Today, it's just as delicious as ever, with dishes like the signature fried whole fish, omurice (chicken-rice omelet with brown sauce), skewers of grilled quail eggs, and lotus roots kinpira, all equally as tempting. Get a group together and order plenty of izakaya to share, which, we'll concede, includes the raw stuff, such as tiradito, carpaccio, tartare, maki, and nigiri.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®