As Miamians, we're accustomed to being overlooked. Miami, after all, is a destination. People come here. No one actually lives here. Does anyone here actually work? At a job? (And don't even start with that wretched "Florida man.")
As for what we like to eat, we all know that drill: We're one big "melting pot." We're addicted to cafecitos. The only pie we acknowledge is key lime, the only sandwich the cubano, the only seafood spiny lobster (or stone crabs, in season).
And we'd all be tycoons if we had a nickel for every time we heard the biggest kiss-off of all: Miami has no food scene.
But like the climate, all that has been changing. In 2022, the Michelin Guide deigned to take note. Earlier this year, Bon Appétit dubbed us "Food City of the Year." And just this month, Food & Wine included Val and Nando Chang (see B-Side on this list) in its annual crop of the nation's "Best New Chefs."
That said, the task we've been setting for ourselves since 2019 — choosing Miami's 100 Essential Restaurants — isn't nearly as simple as picking the ones everyone's drooling over right now.
To the contrary, the list you have in front of you represents our highly subjective distillation of the 100 restaurants that, as a group, best convey the essence of dining out in Miami.
These are places that, regardless of the average tab, stand out to us for their high quality, their inventiveness and ingenuity, their staying power, and, perhaps most important, for their flavor. (There isn't a single entry on this list that's less than a year old. That's by design.)
Below, listed in no particular order, you'll find everything from humble mom-and-pop places to straight-up, once-in-a-blue-moon splurges. If you and your food-loving friends were to spend months assembling your own Top 100, you'd surely make different choices.
We'd love nothing more than to hear your picks. Let us know on social media or via email: [email protected].
— Nicole Danna, New Times food and beverage writer