Celebrities

Andrew Zimmern's List of Favorite Miami Restaurants

Andrew Zimmern visiting with Caja Caliente's Mika Leon
Andrew Zimmern visiting with Caja Caliente's Mika Leon Photo courtesy of Caja Caliente
Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods creator and host Andrew Zimmern is drinking the Miami Kool-Aid.

The celebrity chef — who goes by @chefaz on Instagram — was recently in town for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF). The visit marked his third trip to the Magic City over the past year, during which he looked to locals for ways to explore the burgeoning local food scene.

Just two days after SOBEWFF packed its tents, in a March 1 post in his Substack newsletter, Spilled Milk, Zimmern share his thoughts on Miami’s foodie landscape.

"With warm weather, an exciting food scene, and such a creative spirit, it has become one of my favorite travel destinations," he wrote. "People are living out loud in Miami and everything from the music to the food, and the attitude about life reflects. And although the city has had a reputation for overpriced wanna-be A-list restaurants touting velvet ropes, bouncers, and mediocre food, these days the food scene is beyond impressive."

He proceeded to catalog his favorite Miami haunts.

New Times attempted to contact Zimmern, but he declined to elaborate beyond his newsletter observations.

Below, in alphabetical order, is Zimmern's rundown of Miami's top restaurants, sprinkled with his observations.
click to enlarge The Bazaar by José Andrés, one of the restaurants participating in Miami Spice. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BAZAAR BY JOSÉ ANDRÉS
The Bazaar by José Andrés, one of the restaurants participating in Miami Spice.
Photo courtesy of the Bazaar by José Andrés

The Bazaar by José Andrés

Zimmern praises chef José Andrés' Bazaar for its theatrical presentation, what he calls dinner and show thanks to a "carefully curated theater of shared plates." Miamians know this South Beach restaurant, located at the SLS Hotel, for its adventurous takes on the flavors of the world, covering Spain, Singapore, and Japan, as well as Miami’s unique Latin American connection. 1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-455-2999; thebazaar.com.

Café La Trova

Zimmern sings the praises of bartender and beverage director Julio Cabrera and Miami chef Michelle Bernstein, the dynamic duo behind Café La Trova. Together, they pay homage to Cuban heritage with a retro vibe, authentic eats, and live music. Zimmern's favorites: the daiquiri classico, Cuban sandwich empanadas, and ceviche. 971 SW Eighth St., Miami; 786-615-4379; cafelatrova.com.

Caja Caliente

Zimmern and Miami chef Monica Leon are good pals since she appeared on his show, Family Dinner. Today, he counts her Design District taco truck and new brick-and-mortar restaurant in Coral Gables among his favorite Magic City pit stops for tacos, croquetas, quesadillas, and empanadas. 95 NE 40th St., Miami; 786-717-4964; caja-caliente.com.

Cote

While this isn't a Miami-born eatery, it's one of the more exciting New York City imports to arrive in Miami since the start of the pandemic. Zimmern praises the Korean steakhouse for its Michelin-starred meat lineup but gives an insider's tip on the "Shicken" sandwich for lunch, calling the creation — a fried chicken cutlet bound around shrimp forcemeat with American cheese and pickle mayo on a toasted bun — "one of the best he's eaten in years." 3900 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-434-4668; cotemiami.com.
click to enlarge Juices at El Palacio de los Jugos - PHOTO BY ZACHARY FAGENSON
Juices at El Palacio de los Jugos
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

El Palacio de los Jugos

A longtime Zimmern favorite, El Palacio de los Jugos is a Miami mainstay. While the chef loves this no-frills spot for its cut-to-order chicharrones, it's also the perfect spot for jugos naturales — fresh fruit shakes sweetened with sugarcane. 1275 W 49th St., Hialeah; 305-825-7858; elpalaciodelosjugos.com.

El Mago de las Fritas

Zimmern says this is "hands down" the best Cuban-style burger the Magic City has to offer. The Calle Ocho favorite serves the classic frita: an all-beef patty topped with crisp-fried onions and potato strings, sandwiched between a Cuban bun. 5828 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-266-8486; elmagodelasfritas.com.

Hometown Barbecue

Zimmern approves of Brooklyn restauranteur Billy Durney's marvelous meats. He gave a nod to Hometown's Miami wood-fired menu that showcases a selection of dishes cooked over a live fire that are perfect when paired with a craft beer or seasonal cocktail. 1200 NW 22nd St., #100, Miami; 305-396-4551; hometownbbqmiami.com.
click to enlarge Itamae is one of the city's best restaurants for Nikkei cuisine. - PHOTO BY FUJI FILM GIRL
Itamae is one of the city's best restaurants for Nikkei cuisine.
Photo by Fuji Film Girl

Itamae

A more recent Zimmern discovery, Itamae, rates his list for chef/owners Nando, Valerie, and Fernando Chang's take on Nikkei cuisine. Zimmern calls the Design District spot "the hottest ticket" in town right now, thanks to that "trio of the most talented chefs in the Southeast"; he recommends the daily fresh-catch ceviche, which comes dressed with red onion, tosaka seaweed, and ají limón paired with sweet potato and chewy kernels of choclo, writing, "[i]t might have been the best plate of food I ate when I was in town a few months ago." 140 NE 39th St., Miami; itamaemiami.com.

Joe's Stone Crab

Joe's Stone Crab opened as a lunch counter in 1913 where owner Joe Weiss served up simple fish sandwiches with fries. Decades later, it's a Miami institution where seafood lovers gather to partake in Florida's favorite shellfish, the seasonal stone crab. Today, it's also one of Zimmern's favorite spots. Fried chicken, creamed spinach, and mix-it-yourself coleslaw are the celebrity chef's go-to favorites. 11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-0365; joesstonecrab.com.
click to enlarge Fresh seafood at La Camaronera - PHOTO BY MARISA MATLUCK
Fresh seafood at La Camaronera
Photo by Marisa Matluck

La Camaronera

Zimmern visits family-owned La Camaronera for the minuta sandwich, "a butterflied snapper fillet with lemon, garlic, and cumin served up on a Cuban-style bun." 1952 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-642-3322; lacamaronera.com.

La Mar by Gastón Acurio

At La Mar, executive chef Diego Oka takes diners on a trip to Lima, Peru with his take on upscale novo-Andean and Nikkei fusion fare. Diners are also treated to one of the most beautiful restaurants in Miami, with an outdoor terrace directly on Biscayne Bay. 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami; 305-913-8358; mandarinoriental.com.

Lido Restaurant and Champagne Bar at the Surf Club

Zimmern can't say enough good things about chef Michael White and his lobster ravioli. White is best known for his time in New York City beginning with the now-closed Fiamma Osteria, then as cofounder of Marea. Today, his Surfside restaurant at the Four Seasons delivers a taste of White's coastal Italian cuisine. 9011 Collins Ave., Surfside; 786-482-2280; fourseasons.com.
click to enlarge Bread service at Macchialina - PHOTO BY FUJIFILMGIRL
Bread service at Macchialina
Photo by FujiFilmGirl

Macchialina

This South Beach restaurant is a favorite for tourists and locals alike, and chef/owner Michael Pirolo’s pasta, beverage selection, and atmosphere do not disappoint. Zimmern counts himself as one of the lucky few to have discovered this neighborhood gem. 820 Alton Rd., Miami Beach; 305-534-2124; macchialina.com.

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Of all the Mediterranean restaurants in Miami, Zimmern enjoys Mandolin. The courtyard offers a quiet respite to enjoy a parade of small plates that, he writes, often includes "lamb, beef meatballs, and an exceptional grilled octopus." 4312 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-749-9140; mandolinmiami.com.

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

Michael's Genuine is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a major refresh of its Design District location. Look for a mix of old favorites like stracciatella, wood oven-roasted octopus, and pan-roasted poulet rouge, along with a new section of additional dishes. Since the reopening, Zimmern says "there is no reason not to go" and calls Michael's Genuine "a modern classic." 130 NE 40th St., Miami; 305-573-5550; michaelsgenuine.com.
click to enlarge Panther Coffee stands as Miami's first coffee roaster. - PHOTO BY BILLWISSERPHOTO.COM
Panther Coffee stands as Miami's first coffee roaster.
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

Panther Coffee

Wynwood-based Panther Coffee is Miami's first bean-to-cup coffee roaster, and there's no place like it. The café seems to sit in the center of the art district's hustle and bustle, making it the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee. Writes Zimmern: "Their brew is as excellent as the people-watching." 2390 NW Second Ave., Miami; panthercoffee.com.

Red Rooster Overtown

Zimmern lauds restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, writing, "Once again, Marcus has gone into a neighborhood and planted his flag to not only serve great food, but to the tell the story of the people who live and work there, offering a platform to celebrate local artists and musicians every day." When you go, don't miss Zimmern's favorite dishes: chicken-fried green tomatoes and a plate of pork and plantains. 920 NW Second Ave., Miami; 305-640-9880; redroosterovertown.com.

Zak the Baker

"[E]very restaurateur who knows what’s what sources their bread from Zak," writes Zimmern of Zak the Baker, which serves up soups, bagels, sandwiches, and pastries — not to mention falafel, chocolate babka, challah, and seasonal sourdough loaves — at its Wynwood bakery and café. 295 NW 26th St., Miami; 786-294-0876; zakthebaker.com.
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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna